MotoGP next week at Laguna Seca. WooHoo! Let’s Go!!!

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Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is 2961 miles from where I sit, in Boyertown, PA. Thus sayeth Mapquest. (Side note: Google Maps says 2950 miles. Huh?)  Each suggests that I’d need about 45 to 48 hours of driving (ahem…riding) to get there. That would leave the need to depart by Wednesday morning in order to arrive in time for the first MotoGP practice session of the 2013 Red Bull Grand Prix on Friday, July 19.Capture

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Maybe such a trip is neither realistic nor practical but that’s no reason not to be interested in what’s going on in the 2013 MotoGP World Championship. In case you haven’t been following closely, here’s the dope. First, 2012 Laguna Seca winner Casey Stoner has retired from the MotoGP grind. Heading into this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring Honda mounted Spaniard Dani Pedrosa sits atop the championship standings with 2 wins from seven events thus far. He’s followed closely by countryman Jorge Lorenzo who has notched wins in Qatar, Italy and Spain aboard his factory Yamaha. Lorenzo is certainly one of the “stories of the year” but not specifically because of those wins. A couple of weeks ago he crashed in the rain during practice at the Dutch Grand Prix at Assen. Watch that crash HERE.  Bashed and bruised and suffering with a broken collarbone he was airlifted back home for surgery in Barcelona the following day. Freshly fitted out with 8 surgical screws and a stainless steel plate he returned to Assen, competed in Saturday’s GP and notched a stunning 5th place finish. Talk about a tough guy! On that Thursday afternoon at Assen many thought the reigning champion’s title hopes were done. No so folks! He’s alive, well (more or less), and carrying on with the fight this weekend in Germany and a week later here at Laguna Seca.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) - One tough customer.

Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) – One tough customer.

Third in the championship is Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda teammate, youngster Mark Marquez, who scored  in the US round at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas back in April. That win made the popular twenty year old Spaniard the youngest MotoGP winner ever early in his first season aboard the factory Honda. Marquez is closely followed by British rising star Cal Crutchlow who rides the Tech 3 Yamaha and sits in fourth in the championship standings.  In fifth is arguably the other “story of the year.” Valentino Rossi is a nine times World Champion. He has spent the past several years in the wilderness aboard a less than competitive Ducati. This year he returned to the Yamaha factory team paired with Lorenzo. His results over the first seven races have generally been on an upward trend but marred by a couple of crashes. Nonetheless he recently capped his return to Yamaha with an immensely popular win at Assen. He was joined on the podium by a couple of the “usual suspects” – Marquez and Crutchlow but make no mistake, the “Doctor” is back. And MotoGP fans around the world love it!

Podium at Assen 2013. Marquez, Rossi, Crutchlow.

Podium at Assen 2013. Marquez, Winner Rossi, Crutchlow.

You might rightfully ask about the Americans in the championship battle. 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden continues his good, if overmatched, fight on the Ducati. He lies in 8th place in the championship, two spots behind teammate Andrea Dovisioso. Fifth place is the high water mark for Hayden’s individual race results so far. That came in France at LeMans where his teammate Dovisioso finished a credible fourth.
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Then there are the “Texas Tornado” Colin Edwards and former World Superbike Champion Ben Spies. Each continues with thus far difficult seasons, mired back in 17th and 18th respectively in the points championship. Edwards competes for the Forward Racing Team as one of the Claiming Rules Teams (CRT) and FRT has, frankly, struggled. The two time World Superbike Champ has had to settle for a best finish of 9th at Catalunya. Spies season had been even more difficult with ongoing fallout from injuries originally sustained at Sepang last season. He has missed a number of races and expects to sit out until at least the USGP event at Indianapolis. Most likely no Ben Spies at Laguna this year. Sad.

Ben Spies. Pramac Ducati.

Ben Spies. Pramac Ducati.

So that’s your update and a whole load of good reasons to head out to Laguna Seca next week. Can’t do it (like me)? Then think about the visit of MotoGP to Indianapolis Motor Speedway just a few weeks later on August 18. And if that doesn’t work then there’s TV/online. Whatever you do, catch MotoGP whenever you can. It’s an amazing display of the finest riders in the world!!!

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