US MotoGP: Valentino Rossi expects tough Laguna battle

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Valentino Rossi doesn’t believe Jorge Lorenzo’s Laguna Seca inexperience or Casey Stoner’s on-going health problems will make his task of winning a 101st Grand Prix any easier in California this weekend.

Rossi has won the last two races to surge five-points clear of Fiat Yamaha team-mate Lorenzo in the overall points.

And after breaking his Laguna Seca jinx in 2008 with an epic win over Aussie Stoner, the 30-year-old is still anticipating a tough fight at the spectacular Laguna Seca circuit.

Lorenzo has not completed a race in Laguna Seca having crashed out spectacularly on the opening lap nearly 12 months ago.

And Stoner’s title tilt is currently being seriously undermined by a recurring stomach cramp problem that has prevented him from fighting for the victory in Catalunya and Assen.

Rossi, who became only the second rider in history to win 100 races in Assen last weekend, said: “The wonderful memory of the 100th win is still fresh, but now we have just a few days to recover before the next race, which is hard for everyone.

"We have to try to relax as much as possible and recharge the batteries a little, because Laguna is always a tough weekend and often very hot.

"Last year I had a great battle with Stoner and for me it was for sure one of the turning points of the championship and a very important win; I have some good memories.

"I think this year it will be hard again because Lorenzo is in brilliant form and I am sure Stoner will also be back to his best.

"The championship is very open at this point so we need to keep focus, get back to normal after Assen and try to get another good result this weekend.”

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt