“We've got a double target”
The Fiat Yamaha Team head to California this weekend for the eleventh round of the MotoGP World Championship in determined mood as they look to bury the memory of a nightmare race at Laguna Seca last year and avenge Valentino Rossi's misfortune
in the last round at Sachsenring just a few days ago.
A bittersweet weekend in Germany saw Rossi lose ground on series leader Casey Stoner, who now holds an advantage of 32 points with eight rounds remaining, and the Italian is relieved to have the chance to redress the balance so soon and narrow the gap ahead of the summer break. The high point of last weekend was a fourth place finish for Colin Edwards from thirteenth on the grid and that strong result has provided the Texan with a much-needed confidence boost ahead of his home race.
The situation going into the eagerly-anticipated California date could not be in starker contrast to last season, when Rossi made the Transatlantic trip in great spirits on the back of a scintillating victory at Sachsenring. However, the Laguna race ended in disaster as the searing 56ºC track temperatures took a heavy toll and Rossi was forced to retire just four laps from the end with tyre and engine problems. Similar tyre issues for Edwards compounded the effects of flu symptoms and an upset stomach that he had suffered throughout the weekend, limiting him to a ninth place finish despite qualifying on the front row.
Famed, feared and revered for the world-famous ‘Corkscrew' corner, the Laguna Seca circuit near has lived up to its billing as one of the most exciting circuits in the world since MotoGP returned in 2005. With only a few short straights, a series of fast and sweeping corners and elevation changes that leave front wheels frequently spinning through thin air, the 3.602km ci rcuit provides the ideal viewing spectacle for fans but is surprisingly straightforward when it comes to machine set-up. Throttle connection is much more important than top-end power and the riders require a well balanced chassis set-up to deal with the frequent and dramatic elevation changes and corner variation.
Fiat Yamaha Team Director Davide Brivio has pinpointed twin objectives for his riders this weekend, with short and long term goals in mind. In both cases the target is to challenge for victory at Laguna Seca and put Yamaha back on the podium at a circuit they enjoyed so much success at during its first period on the Grand Prix calendar, when the factory won five of the six races premier-class races held between 1988 and 1994.
"We've got a double target for Laguna; a great home race for Colin and making up for Germany with Valentino", stated Brivio.
"2006 wasn't a great year for us at Laguna and we were very unlucky but it's a nice place to go and race with a fantastic atmosphere so hopefully this time we can make the most of it! We know our package is very good now and our tyres are working very well, so we have the potential to do a great job with both riders in America.”
"This is another demanding weekend for the team because it is a long way to travel in such a short space of time, especially with the time difference. Logistically it is quite tough but the situation is the same for all the teams and we will be working hard to make sure everything is in place for our riders to come out fighting on Friday morning."