Casey Stoner rode one of his best races ever to win the Red Bull US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca and extend his World Championship points lead to 20 over Jorge Lorenzo who finished 2nd ahead of Dani Pedrosa.
Stoner had been frustrated in practice trying to find the perfect bike setting and only jumped into 2nd with his final qualifying lap and honestly said that he thought he would struggle to repeat it in the race.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo had been consistently quick all through practice and stormed into the lead from pole position with Pedrosa passing Stoner, both off the front row, on the race to turn one. By the end of the 1st lap Dovizioso had worked some magic from row 2 to make it Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner and Dovizioso. Three Red Bull athletes on the factory Hondas chasing the lead Yamaha.
German Grand Prix winner Pedrosa was pressuring Lorenzo from lap 3 but was unable to get past. He gradually dropped back and with 15 laps of the 32 to go Stoner cut past Pedrosa at the top of the Corkscrew. Having obviously overcome his set-up problems with some last minute adjustments in the morning warm-up Stoner upped the pace and with 10 laps to go was climbing all over the back of Lorenzo. At 6 laps to go he had the crowd on their feet as he rode round the outside of Lorenzo in the flat out through turn one at over 260kph and down to the turn 2 hairpin.
It was an incredible move and he backed it up, completing the lap with a 7 tenths advantage over the Spaniard. He then maintained that incredible pace, almost a second a lap quicker than Lorenzo to give himself an advantage of 2.5 seconds with 3 laps to go. Stoner crossed the line with a huge wheelie and was obviously thrilled to gain his 5th GP of the season.
Pedrosa was 3rd and moves into 4th in the World Championship table. Dovizioso remains 3rd in the points though he finished 5th after being passed by Ben Spies in the closing stages.
Stoner played down the drama of his victory that came against most people's pre race expectations. “To be honest it was the most relaxed I've been before the race for a long time. We found something this morning that meant we felt we could run with these guys. At the start of the race I was patient and I struggled a bit to get the bike turned but as the fuel dropped the bike got more comfortable and I could up the pace. It has seemed that people forgot us a bit over the last few weeks and it was great to be able to win this one and remind them that we are here.”
Pedrosa was as always very honest about his effort. “I tried my best. At the beginning the pace was so hard the way Jorge was leading the race and by the middle of the race I was so tired I couldn't find the power to keep up the pace and I guess I am still not quite 100% fit when it comes to a race like this. Still 3rd place is OK and I have a little time before the next round in Brno to get my fitness back fully.”