Laguna Seca: MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo has long been inspired by Laguna Seca and its infamous Corkscrew turn, and he will be banking on that special spur when he defends his US Grand Prix title this week.
With nine races left this season, the 24-year-old Spaniard trails Australian Casey Stoner by 15 points in the overall standings and would dearly love to trim that deficit further with another triumphant display on Sunday.
Lorenzo made up some ground on Stoner when he snatched second place for Yamaha at last week`s German Grand Prix where the pacesetting Australian had to settle for third.
"We are very strong at the moment ... and we will try to continue to reduce our gap behind Casey," Lorenzo told reporters while preparing for Friday`s practice.
"I have had great moments at Laguna Seca -- above all last year when I won but also in 2009 when I got pole position even with a big crash and at the end got a podium."
Two years ago, Lorenzo took pole position despite crashing and partially dislocating his collar bone in qualifying. He finished the race third behind winner Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi after a gutsy performance.
Twelve months ago, the Spaniard again started on pole but this time he benefited from a spectacular crash by compatriot Pedrosa on lap 12 before powering across the finish line 3.517 seconds ahead of Ducati`s Stoner.
"That win was very special," Lorenzo said of his 11th MotoGP triumph. "Winning at Laguna Seca was something I`d always dreamed of."
"Laguna Seca is amazing for the American style and the atmosphere but, above all, because of the Corkscrew. I think maybe it is the best corner in the championship."
Lorenzo is certain, though, to face heated competition on Sunday from 2007 U.S Grand Prix champion Stoner and Pedrosa, winner here in 2009.
"It`s a circuit I`ve always enjoyed quite good results at and we`ve always been naturally quite fast on it," said Stoner, who has finished on the podium in his last seven races.
"There are lots of sweeping gradients and unusual corners with a lot of camber, so you need to be delicate on the track and not `attack` it too much.”
"We`ll be looking to improve our results from the past three weekends. Three podiums are great but I`m here to win races."
Pedrosa, who sealed his return from injury by winning the German Grand Prix on Sunday, is another long-time fan of Laguna Seca which is scenically laid out in rolling hills overlooking the Monterey Peninsula.
"With the exception of last year, when I crashed, and in 2008, when I couldn`t race due to injury, I`ve always had fun racing at Laguna Seca," the 25-year-old Spaniard said. "The victory in 2009 was very exciting.”
"I know that I will suffer more at Laguna Seca because there are many hard braking areas and very fast direction changes. But the atmosphere there is special ... and I`d like to close the first part of the season with a good feeling."
Pedrosa broke his collarbone in a collision with Italian Marco Simoncelli at the French Grand Prix in May and only came back at this month`s Italian round.