The MotoGP World Championship returned to America, and the Laguna Seca circuit, after a ten year absence last season - where home star Nicky Hayden
went on to take his first ever grand prix victory.
Hayden returns for the 2006 event this weekend holding the world championship lead - and here the Repsol Honda rider reveals the secrets to a quick lap around the technical Californian circuit...
"They call it the front straightaway but it's not really very straight, you know it's actually got quite a little bend in it and it leads to what I think is probably the most hairy place in MotoGP. It's definitely the loosest…."
"You take this in fifth gear up over the hill. The bike wants to wheelie and both wheels come off the ground a bit, so you just wait for it to settle back down on the back side of the hill before opening the throttle."
"For turn two you backshift down into second gear. You try to get in a little too hot - overcook it a little bit - and then bring the bike back in, square it up and try and get the power down as much as possible."
"Here you've sometimes got to be careful on the first lap and make sure there's some heat in the front tyre. It's a really flat corner and you can't really make up a lot of time there - you've really just got to be smooth and get your drive down to turn four."
"This is a really fast corner - faster than it looks - and it's pretty important because it leads onto a straightaway."
"Braking for turn five is a good place to pass - it's an uphill corner which means you can carry a lot of speed. It's really important to get a good drive up here because it sets you up for next bend which is uphill and blind."
"When you hit the brakes for Turn Six the bike gets unweighted and quite loose. There's a dip right in the middle and you've got to wait for the bike to settle down, hit the dip and then open up the throttle and carry your speed up the hill. It's a big blind hill that leads you up to what I think's the best corner in the world - The Corkscrew."
The Corkscrew (seven)
"There's nowhere else in the world quite like this and it just all happens really quick from here to the finish line. They've made some changes this year and I'm looking forward to seeing what they've done - whether they've made it better or worse. You've got to get the bike stopped, turn left and then flip it right. The ground really drops away so you've got to wait for it to load up and you've got to build the speed carefully. It takes a lot of effort because the bike wants to pull to the left and you've really got to muscle it back to the right for…"
Rainey corner (eight)