After disappointing US Grand Prix
Valentino Rossi took fourth place in the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca today, after a spirited ride in difficult conditions from fifth on the grid.
Team-mate Edwards was unable to fulfil his dream of a home-race success and crossed
the line in eleventh after a race led from flag-to-flag by series leader Casey Stoner.
Rossi lost some ground at the start and found himself behind Edwards for the first part of the lap. He quickly moved ahead of his team-mate however and the pair crossed the line for the first time in fourth and fifth respectively. On lap five Marco Melandri took Edwards and set off after Rossi, overtaking the Italian a few laps later and relegating him to fifth. After Melandri had in turn passed Dani Pedrosa, Rossi quickly began to close the gap on the Spaniard until he was able to strike at the end of lap twenty to claim fourth. For several laps he then looked to be closing the gap to Melandri but a lack of grip forced him to slacken off and he eventually crossed the line 30.664 seconds behind Stoner.
Edwards looked comfortable in sixth for much of the race but as his tyres too lost performance in the latter stages he was caught by a collection of riders and relegated to eleventh.
Rossi and Edwards hold on to second and seventh respectively in the championship but the gap from Rossi to Stoner is extended to 44 points, with seven rounds remaining. The MotoGP paddock now embarks on a well-deserved summer break before action recommences at Brno in the Czech Republic in late August.
"Today was incredibly disappointing because, with the tyre situation like this, it was like our rivals were in a different race.
My team and I worked very hard, especially after yesterday's crash, and we did the maximum we could to have our bike in the best possible condition. However without grip it was impossible to fight with the leaders. I rode the best race I could and I was very happy to pass Pedrosa, but I couldn't catch Melandri; we just didn't have the right rhythm or grip today. I'm very sad for last weekend in Sachsenring because there Michelin was strong and we missed a chance to make up some important points there. After today we can see just how important! It seems that tyres are the deciding factor for this season and this is a pity for the fans and for the show. We are not giving up; there are seven races left and we know that Michelin are going to work as hard as they possibly can in order to make the situation better for the second part of the season, but Stoner is very strong and we know it will be very hard. Anyway, we have some holidays now and we will be back in Brno to fight as hard as we can until the end."
"I think it was pretty obvious today to everyone that we were struggling and why. We had a problem all weekend and we changed the bike in every possible way to try to work around it but unfortunately it proved impossible. We went round in circles but we couldn't change the underlying problem and the basic fact is that we had no grip. Of course I'm pretty disappointed that this happened at my home race, with all my family and friends here and it's a great pity we couldn't give the American fans more to cheer about today. My guys worked really hard all weekend, they all deserve their holidays now and then we'll all be fresh for a new start in Brno."
"It was quite clear today that the tyres played an important role. Last week our tyre was better but this week the situation was reversed and our riders couldn't fulfil their potential. It's a great pity because this championship should be about seeing all the best riders fighting together but at the moment this is being limited by other factors. Everyone worked incredibly hard this weekend but unfortunately Valentino wasn't able to fight for the win as we hoped and Colin, too, wasn't able to exploit his potential in front of his home fans. Now we have to keep working but we know that the situation won't be easy or quick to change. Thank you to both riders, the team and the engineers because they have worked very hard in difficult circumstances all weekend. Everyone has some time off to recover from a very hard few months now before we start again; we will keep the same fighting spirit and we won't give up."