The latest news from around the world courtesy of Press Snoop Lynne Huntting...

NICKY HAYDEN/Repsol Honda Team was fastest Saturday morning in MotoGP practice at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The local favourite, clocked a 1m 23.718s, fastest so far this weekend. The record-breaking lap was on the twenty-first of the thirty laps he turned Saturday morning. By then the fog had lifted, the sun was out, skies were clear and it was another beautiful day for Round Eight of the MotoGP series.

Second fastest rider, TROY BAYLISS/Honda Pons, lay over into Turn Three and just kept laying. He took a tumble into the gravel but got up unharmed. This was at the two minute gun of the hour-long practice session, so he called it a morning.

Third fastest was another American, JOHN HOPKINS/Red Bull Suzuki.

Points leader, VALENTINO ROSSI/Yamaha Factory Racing, was fifth fastest, behind ALEX BARROS/Honda Pons. Sixth was Rossi's American team-mate, COLIN EDWARDS.

MARCO MELANDRI/Movistar Honda MotoGP is better after his fall Friday morning, but he's still not 100 percent. He was tenth fastest.

Three of the four American riders had spent time at the top of the charts one time or another during the weekend so far. The only US rider not to sit on top was KENNY ROBERTS/Red Bull Suzuki. He was twelfth Saturday morning.

The extent of enthusiasm for the fans to see the return of MotoGP to America was shown Friday when the riders first took to the track. All around the circuit the fans cheered and clapped as the riders came through the various sections of the circuit. The American riders especially were pleased and showed off to the crowd, pumping and waving their arms in the air, popping wheelies and the like.

VALENTINO ROSSI/Yamaha Factory Racing continues to have problems at Laguna. Saturday it was just trying to get into the track. The whole scenario was seen and digitally recorded by one of the Laguna Media Staff members, who was stuck in traffic getting into the circuit.

A Yamaha crew member, in full uniform, drove a motor scooter out of the track and then came back with Rossi on the back, sans helmet. Hot on their heels were two County Mounties, in full Code Three pursuit.

Speaking with his hands as well as his voice, Rossi was seen to be explaining, or trying to explain, why he needed to get into the track. The officers were equally as adamant that without the required helmet, Rossi wasn't going anywhere.

Help came in the form of the crew member who had gone out to rescue Rossi from the traffic jam. The driver gave Rossi his helmet. Rossi couldn't take off, however, until he autographed the uniform shirt of one of the policemen. Rossi then left for morning practice, while his rescuer walked back.

There were four MotoGP rider falls Friday - three of little consequence by FRANCO BATTAINI/Blata WCM and TROY BAYLISS/Honda Pons in the afternoon and RUBEN XAUS/Fortuna Yamaha Team in the morning. MARCO MELANDRI/Movistar Honda MotoGP fell in the morning also, and suffered contusions on his right leg and wrist, and was still feeling the effects on Saturday.

Saturday's weather was more typically Northern California coastal summer fare - morning fog which lifted midday. Skies were sunny and clear but there wasn't much chance of heat exhaustion.

MotoGP Qualifying is Saturday afternoon.

 

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