Monday, 30 July 2012
A desperate roll of the dice has re-ignited Casey Stoner's MotoGP world championship campaign.
The Australian's risky tyre choice at Laguna Seca paid off with victory in the US Grand Prix - his fourth win of the year.
Stoner, who aims to retire from MotoGP this season with a trio of crowns, outfoxed Spaniards Jorge Lorenzo, the pole-sitter, and Dani Pedrosa, on Sunday.
It was the 26-year-old's 37th premier class win, equalling legendary Englishman Mike Hailwood.
He is now joint fourth in elite category wins behind Italians Valentino Rossi (79) and Giacomo Agostini (68) and Australian Mick Doohan (54).
But Stoner and his Repsol Honda team agonised over their strategy before the race, finally opting to gamble on running a soft rear tyre.
"It's been a difficult weekend for us in general especially trying to make the hard tyre work," Stoner said after clinching his third win at the California circuit.
"So for the race I decided to go with the soft option and be a little more careful with the tyre, keep a little more traction and not spin so much.
"At the beginning of the race I tried to move to the front but Dani and Jorge were riding very good lines and it was impossible to get past."
Stoner instead played a canny race, settling in behind the frontrunners before striking.
"I decided to slow the lap times a little and try to save the tyres until the end and then we could start to come back," he said.
"I was confident for the entire race that I had enough pace for the win, we just needed to make sure the tyre would last until the end.
"When we got to the front we put in some good laps and pulled some small advantage and just continued from there."
The win has hauled Stoner back into contention after forgettable performances in Germany and Italy.
He has now crept to within 32-points of Yamaha's Lorenzo, who leads the series from Pedrosa with eight races remaining.
Home favourite Nicky Hayden was a distant sixth on the factory Ducati but it was another disaster for team-mate Rossi.
A whopping 1.9s off the qualifying pace on Saturday, Rossi was in eighth place when he crashed at high speed.
He walked away unhurt from the first race he has failed to finish this season.
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