Battered and bruised Jorge Lorenzo had to play second fiddle to Repsol Honda again in Laguna Seca yesterday after he was powerless to stop Casey Stoner from surging to a fifth win of 2011.
Riding with back and right leg injuries after his horrifying practice crash on Saturday morning, Lorenzo put up a gallant fight against Stoner and the factory Yamaha rider led for the opening 26 laps of a gripping encounter in front of over 52,000 fans.
But as tiredness crept in for the final stages of the 32-lap race, Lorenzo had no answer once Stoner executed a daring overtake at Turn One at the start of lap 27.
Having been beaten by Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in Germany seven days earlier, Lorenzo was unable to fend off another RC212V and Stoner’s win saw him extend his title advantage to 20-points heading into the summer break.
Lorenzo said: "At the beginning Casey struggled but the Honda worked so well with the tyres when the grip dropped. My bike started to slide and I was losing so many tenths but compared to the Honda he was getting faster. To be honest after qualifying I thought Dani was stronger than Casey but it is obvious in the Warm-up that he found something that brings him more confidence and some tenths and his bike was better with the rear tyre and he was riding super. And he didn’t get tired at the end of the race, so this was the trick."
Lorenzo said his physical condition didn’t help his victory challenge and he added: "It doesn't help so much for the race. I did my best from the beginning of the race. I pushed so hard to make a real gap. It was hard to make it with Dani, but finally I saw on the pit board that Dani was going slowly every lap. But the problem was that Casey was feeling better and better. With my physical condition and the rear tyre that was working so badly at the end, together it makes us a little bit slower and the maximum we could get was the second position."
Trailing 2007 world champion Stoner by 20-points with eight races remaining, Lorenzo said he was optimistic that he could claw back some of the deficit when the campaign resumes in Brno next month.
He added: "To win the world title I think the important thing is to finish in front of Casey but here we couldn't. There are more races and in Brno with better physical condition and maybe that being my favourite track, things can change."