USA Grand Prix 27-29 july 2012

“’re going to win that bet.”

(Dani Pedrosa to us when we mention we had bet on him to win the 2012 MotoGP world championship)

The trouble with Laguna Seca weekends is they last about 10 nanoseconds.  Flying to California for a weekend helps the sense of compression, but it always feels that no sooner than we have arrived - attending at the track for the Thursday Riders for Health Day of Stars - then we are saying good bye at the airport Monday!

But as these photos & videos show, a LOT happens in between (that is, everything apart from sleep! :-)

Thursday we did go to the auction at the Riders for Health Day of Stars. This is always a great event - few people bidding on some really cool stuff. A personally signed Nicky Hayden photo by Scott Jones, paddock passes for the weekend, boots of Colin Edwards and much more are just some examples. We ourselves donated a pair of Pole Position Club hospitality tickets - the winners paid just under $900 (below retail) and at the end of the weekend reported this was one of the happiest purchases they had ever made!  Every year I regret we don’t get a chance to join Riders for the guided Monterey peninsula tour (usually by  and track lap. One day....!

Thursday evening we all met over our traditional Happy Hour (which always seems to last 2...!) and together with Derek Crutchlow, adjourned to a dynamite Italian seafood dinner on Fishermens’ Wharf.

Friday dawned with the traditional chilly morning fog, which burned away for the first of 3 brilliant afternoons at the track.  There is so much to do at Laguna, we always recommend people come up on Friday.  The hospitality units are open - albeit on reduced catering. A great day to get around...

Friday night we had a brilliant dinner presentation by movie director Mark Neale; maker of the seminal movies Faster!; The Doctor The Tornado and the Kentucky Kid, and his latest Fastest.  He showed clips from mainly Fastest and told us a bit about capturing the scenes and the candid rider interviews. We were especi
ally impressed that he got frank comments from both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo about the incredible last lap duel of the 2009 Catalunya MotoGP (and his opening scene).   (Read our review of his movie here)

Daytona Sportbike rider Tommy Acquino also joined us to share some of his experiences.

Saturday we started our regular tours of the Gresini garage and trackside at the Corkscrew.  These were truly amazing experiences - the first time we ourselves had ever stood at the edge of the most iconic corner in MotoGP and watched bikes whizz by!

Pole Position Club customers virtually shake hands with Toni Elias as he drops into the corkscrew...

This was a benefit to all our Pole Position Club members - originally as a compensation for the move of the unit but so well received that we will consider making it a permanent feature!

Saturday night some of us stayed around for the Yamaha presentation with all the Yamaha MotoGP riders, and past riders Wayne Rainey and Kenny Roberts Sr. We supported the charity auction of Cal Crutchlow’s Silverstone leathers; donated for Children in Need, and raising some £5000! That final beer at the Yamaha pavilion beer tent was well earned!

Sunday of course was the Big Day. Starting as usual foggy and cold, it wasn’t until about 11am that things finally got underway - delaying the whole programme (as usual - this happens every year so why don’t they just plan a later start?!)

The first race of the day was the Daytona Sportbike.  Sadly our man Tommy Acquino was running a solid 4th when his engine gave out.  He pitted and eventually took 17th. His teammate (and former Pole Position Travel sponsoree) Benny Solis took a credible 7th; Red Bull Rookies Alum Cameron Beaubier took the win by a nose.

We saw the ePower race at the Isle of Man TT this year (see report) so the FIM entry at Laguna Seca was quite interesting. Americans made a 1-2-3 sweep led by Michael Barnes, but I was previously unaware that the woman rider Katja Poensgen from Germany was (and remains) the series leader! Travelling like ghosts, this may not be the most exciting racing, but the fact that they are averaging 100+ mph laps over 9 laps is pretty astounding!

The highlight of the weekend was of course the MotoGP race. We caught the start from the corkscrew.  It is simply mesmerising to see the pack charge down the hill in close order. You are sure mayhem is imminent, but like well rehearsed dancers they all make it! A brilliant duel between Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner resulted in Casey winning with about the only pass of the race! Our Aussie clients (many!) were delighted! Brilliant riding by all!

The AMA Superbike race was the most exciting race in 2011; this year not quite up to the same level as  Josh Hayes pretty well dominated; but with a beer in hand with stunning views from the VIP, this was a brilliant close to a perfect racing day!

Sunday night we closed with our traditional winding-down drinks, then the madcap Hawaiian meal with the infamous Scorpion Bowls. We ended up at the Red Bull rider’s party, but we won’t say too much about this one!  A good time was had by all!

There are some rumours in the wind that Laguna may be canceled. Please let it not be so! But just in case, assuming it comes back in 2013 - BE THERE!!


Laguna Seca, California, USA

We were delighted to support an auction for Save the Children in which the leathers worn by Cal Crutchlow on his stunning Silverstone 2012 ride were won by Julie and Chris Jenkins from England. The auction raised over £5000 and we provided the weekend hospitality and played host. Here Chris accepts the letters from Cal on the Yamaha stage Saturday night. From left: Ben Spies (Jorge was late...), Andrea Dovisioso, Cal, Gavin Emmet (with Nick Harris just visible in background), Chris & Julie, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts Sr. and Bob Starr of Yamaha USA.


Photos marked:

GH: Gordon Howell, PPT guide (and photos not marked)

MGP: Courtesy

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This was the weekend of the Corkscrew... Never before have we spent so much time on what is probably the most famous set of corners in MotoGP.  Nothing on camera or video really gives you the sensation - or as we say, “nothing beats being there”!

These are some AMA Superbikes coming down the corkscrew during qualifiers. Just to give a taste of the drop....

American wildcard Steve Rapp comes down the corkscrew during Saturday qualifying. Sadly enough, he will not qualify; and Ben Spies shortly behind him will come a-cropper soon, injuring his ankle at the end of the session