Laguna Seca

7/04/2009 11:50:00 am / The truth was spoken by Rich /

It's just a week, a week people, since Assen but all the way over on the west coast of Merca it's race weekend again. Wooo, high five.

Now then, if Laguna Seca were offered up to the FIM - the Governing body of MotoGP racing - today as a potential track for future seasons, the Italian powers that be in their swanky offices in Geneva would be "Mama Mia"-ing and fainting in horror. "Zut Alors!" the French executives would gasp. "Are you out of your freakin' minds?" the American technical directors would scream splashing their doughnuts all over the plans for the track laid out before them. Coffee would go everywhere. FIM President Vito Ippolito wouldn't say anything as he's from Venezuela and would be enjoying a siesta.

It's a dangerous track is what I'm saying. It disappeared from the MotoGP calendar as it was too dangerous, but remained a World Superbike track, which from a betting point of view is significant as a few old WSB riders are now riding for MotoGP teams - Vermeulan and Edwards have done well 'specially, it's also Colin Edwards' home race.

It's been back since 2005, but still not in the slightest bit suited to MotoGP bikes which can reach 170mph in the time it takes to say 170mph. It has a 300ft elevation from it's lowest point to it's highest. There are no straights to speak of so a lap is 2.2 miles of just twists and turns and this chicane come cliff-face called the "Corkscrew," which takes the riders on a 30ft decent in about 0.25 of a second. That's about the height of my house. Look this is it;

That picture doesn't do it justice. Imagine going down this on a MotoGP bike:

So anyway, last year was hide behind the sofa racing. Really quite awesomely terrifying. Hairs up on the back of the neck, balls the size of gob-stoppers and so on. Valentino Rossi eventually out bottling young Casey Stoner who ended up unceremoniously in the dirt on the last corner after finally succumbing to the sheer terror that must have been thrashing through his veins for 32 laps. Highlights here:

video

This track is to say the least unpredictable, if it were a woman it would be a constantly menstruating bipolar alcoholic heroin addict. From a racers point of view it's probably a nightmare, from a racing fans view it's fabulous as let's face it the prospect of some awesome crashes is one of the appeals of motor sports. From a punting point of view it can offer up some big priced gems and it is these my team of singing squirrel and I will be mining for this afternoon and this evening after qualifying somewhere around 10pm.

As we speak we can rule out Casey Stoner who has all but admitted already that he can't win. If you have some decent funds available he is a lay at 3/1. He'll almost certainly be vomiting in his helmet again with all the uncompromising undulations of this track. Jorge Lorenzo looks fast but is having to learn the track again after crashing out on the first lap of his debut last year. Little Dani Pedrosa is too little for such a demanding track. This leaves the door open for a dark horse podium finisher.

Chris Vermeulen, despite having an unsightly mole on his cheek has managed a podium finish the last two years clearly benefiting from his experience of the track from his World Super Bike days. If he hadn't crashed yesterday I'd be rather enthusiastic about an each-way wager for him currently available to win at 40/1 (top 3 1/5 odds).

The two Mercans haven't got a chance: Colin Edwards has just said so and Nicky Hayden who won here in 2005 and 2006 on a Honda cannot ride his Ducati - despite having impossible straight and white teeth - the bike was built for Stoner and no one else can get to grips with it, or at least that's young Nicky's excuse and he is sticking to it.

Other outsiders possibly maybe might be Andrea Dovizioso who appears to be over coming the burden of having a girl's name and maybe possibly if there are some crashes, Tony Elias.

My pre-qualifying prediction for the race then people is:

1. Valentino Rossi
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Chris Vermeulen

Of course the most the MOST unpredictable of results would be the predictable Rossi win (who was fastest in practice yesterday), Lorenzo second (he was second fastest in practice yesterday) and Stoner third (third fastest but really struggling), but let's just assume that won't happen as it'll spoil our fun.

Valentino Rossi corkscrews Casey Stoner last year

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