Rizla Suzuki MotoGP's Anglo-American racer John Hopkins will be back on 'home' asphalt next weekend as round 11 of the MotoGP World Championship takes place at Laguna Seca in California.
Hopkins will be returning to the State that he was born in and will be looking to turn his hometown knowledge to his advantage over the 32-lap race. He will -- as in previous years -- have a huge stateside following of friends and family cheering him on as he goes in search of his first MotoGP victory.
Chris Vermeulen is heading to Laguna determined to make amends for the way he was cruelly robbed of what looked like a certain podium there last year. Suzuki's Australian star had looked completely at home over the 3.6km circuit last season in scorching temperatures. He secured pole position for the race and then led for over half distance, until a fuel starvation problem caused him to drop back to fifth place. Vermeulen is a big fan of the Californian track and took a World Superbike double-header victory there in 2005.
Laguna Seca is situated near Monterey in California, approximately 165km south of San Francisco. The track celebrates its half century this year, it was constructed in 1957 on a dried-up lagoon in part of the US Army's field artillery target range, and has staged the US GP since the event's return to America in 2005. The circuit is one of the narrowest on the MotoGP calendar and features one of the scariest corners found on any racetrack anywhere in the world -- The Corkscrew -- where riders almost drop off the side of the track in a virtually sheer drop left-hand bend before turning immediately right half-way down.
Rizla Suzuki MotoGP begins preparations for Sunday's race with two free practice sessions on Friday, before a final hour of practice on the Saturday morning. Qualifying will take place on Saturday afternoon as all the riders battle it out to secure the best starting positions for race day. The main event gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (21.00hrs GMT).
"I can't wait to get to Laguna; it is great to be coming home to race. I love racing there and it always feels special to me. All my family and friends are there and the American fans get to see a MotoGP for the only time this year in their country. It is a great track to race on and hopefully we can give a good showing on the Rizla Suzuki and try and stand on top of the box!"
"I thought I could have had my first MotoGP podium at Laguna last year, the bike and the tyres worked really well there, but we had a small problem that stopped that happening. I really enjoy this track and I had a lot of success in World Superbike and I'm really looking forward to racing there and I'm sure we can be fighting at the front!"