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American NICKY HAYDEN/Repsol Honda Team dominated all weekend at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and led from start to finish the inaugural Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix to take his first ever Moto GP victory in 38 starts, and his first win of any kind since 2002 (except for that TV dating show last year).

Hayden's win was the first for Honda at Laguna, no doubt a sweet victory for TAKEO FUKUI, President/CEO of Honda Motor Company, who was at the race.

It was the first career pole position for Hayden in 38 starts. He said it was cool - he got to talk with BRAD PITT. By race time, Hayden was ready to race and said "Let's just start this party." He made very few changes to his motorcycle all weekend.

The obviously excited and delighted 'Kentucky Kid' burned tyres, waved at the crowd, carried the American Flag given to him by a track marshal, gave a ride to his father, EARL HAYDEN on the back of his Honda, and danced a jig on the Victory Stand.

In the post-race Media Conference, he sprayed champagne on the media. It was a popular finish for the overflow, record-breaking crowd of 57,932 fans. Hayden later said "he hoped it took his career to the next level. He had momentum going now. It runs in the family"

Runner-up was another American, COLIN EDWARDS of Texas, with Yamaha Factory Racing. He set the unofficial track record for fastest MotoGP race time on Lap Five at 1:23.915/96.020 mph/154.871 kph. He is now fifth overall in the standings and is the highest placed American, one position ahead of Hayden.

Edwards started seventh and worked up to third place by Lap Four. Edwards' teammate, VALENTINO ROSSI of Italy, started second and held that position for 16 of the 32-lap race, before a killer pass by Edwards reversed their positions.

After that, Rossi dogged Edwards, but to no avail. The little curly headed impish scamp finished third, hot on the heels of the unknowing Edwards who didn't believe the pit boards when his crew signalled the narrow margin he held over Rossi.

Rossi stretched his points lead to 186, 79 points ahead of second rider, MARCO MELANDRI/Movistar Honda MotoGP, who crashed out of the race at the end of the first lap.

Hayden's teammate, MAX BIAGGI of Italy finished fourth, and SETE GIBERNAU of Spain finished fifth for Movistar Honda MotoGP.

Gibernau's teammate, Melandri of Italy, and ALEX BARROS/Honda Pons hit each other on Lap One, taking out both riders. They are both all right but unhappy over their missed opportunities.

All but one rider finished on the lead lap.

The other two American riders, both riding for Red Bull Suzuki, JOHN HOPKINS of Ramona CA and KENNY ROBERTS of Modesto CA, finished eighth and fourteenth, respectively.

All the Hayden brothers raced Sunday and father got his first ride on the back of a MotoGP bike. It was something that Nicky started back in his dirt track days.

Older brother, TOMMY HAYDEN/Kawasaki Motors Corp, had the pole for the AMA Supersport race, which ran after the MotoGP. He raced with a suspected broken hand from a tumble in the AMA Superstock race in the morning.

The track x-rays showed a fracture, but it wasn't clear, so he taped it up, gritted his teeth and raced, no doubt inspired by Nicky's victory. Tommy never led a lap however, ran third for a while and then faded back to sixth, no doubt in pain. BEN ATTARD/Attack Performance Kawasaki led the first two laps, but retired on Lap Three.

Younger brother ROGER HAYDEN/Kawasaki Motors Corp, led the most laps of the Supersports race, 14 of the 17 lap race, but lost out to JASON DISALVO/Yamaha Motor Corp on the last lap in another thrilling race move.

Several of the MotoGP teams have tobacco sponsorship, but most were unable to use it due to US Tobacco Agreement restrictions, which are too complicated to explain here.

Celebrity watching was fine for the preteen set Sunday midday. BRAD PIT, with bleached hair almost the same color as the bright yellow Yamaha Fiftieth Anniversary shirts, hung out in the garage of VALENTINO ROSSI and COLIN EDWARDS. He tried to walk in the paddock but was mobbed, even with the help of the SCRAMP officials herding him around.

Grid girls of all types and description dotted the landscape Sunday, all sporting the obligatory form fitting and/or skimpy attire. Many of them vied to post with Pitt, who was finally whisked away.

MATT LE BLANC, sporting a not quite scruffy look, was another visitor to the Yamaha Factory Racing enclave.

Also seen in the paddock was another actor, ADRIAN BRODY. Who knows how many other celebs were lurking out and about?

MICHAEL JORDAN kept a low profile all weekend, if that's possible. He mostly hung out in the Red Bull hospitality area, although he ventured out briefly Saturday to present the MotoGP riders individual jersey's with their numbers. Jordan now runs an AMA motorcycle team.

Two of his riders, JASON PRIDMORE of Ventura CA and STEVE RAPP of Valencia CA run both Superbikes and Superstocks, while MONTEZ STEWART of Matteson IL runs just Superstocks.

Keeping low profiles and having fun were folks from other racetracks and organizations, such as JIM MICHAELIAN, President of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association, and JOHN CARDINALE, Communications Director for Infineon Raceway.

Mother Nature cooperated providing sunny breezy weather with blue cloudless skies. The ambient temperature was 74 degrees F/23C and track temperature was 104 degrees F/40C.

The steady sound of helicopters taking off filled the air after the race. No doubt the local chopper pilots had a full and lucrative weekend ferrying riders and high rollers to and fro.

Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula holds the commercial rights for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The contract with the County of Monterey runs to 2012.

SCRAMP General Manager, GILL CAMPBELL, was tired but elated at the end of the weekend. "I am so impressed with the US fans. They made all of this hard work worth while. It was truly overwhelming. And to have two US riders finish 1-2...I couldn't have scripted it better.

"Going into this project, I had projected a certain amount of ticket sales in 90 days. It was when that number was reached in 27 days that I began to realize the enormity of what we were undertaking. I didn't really realise what 153,000 people looked like."

It was a win-win weekend for MotoGP, Laguna and the US race fans. Campbell held a meeting with DORNA Sunday afternoon and said that "Everybody was very congratulatory. DORNA wants to be here for five-years and beyond. It was a fabulous event."

NICK HARRIS, DORNA Communications Director, said "It was a great success. This race is very important for the United States and MotoGP. I think everyone really enjoyed it and we are looking forward to coming back next year."

KATHRYN HAYWORTH, Past President of SCRAMP, said the DORNA officials were "astounded" that the well-run paddock marshals were all unpaid SCRAMP volunteers. They had their hands full with more than 13,500 fans who paid extra for paddock privileges.

Next year's MotoGP will be 23 July 2006 and tickets go on sale 1 September 2005. The date change is due to World Cup Soccer, and the resulting change of date for the Canadian Grand Prix.

 

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