In the latest of his exclusive columns for Crash.net, Eurosport MotoGP commentator Toby Moody reveals more news from round eight of the 2005 world championship; the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca...

So what a race win that was. Last time I said that was after Jerez, and this time it is without the drama, but with all of the emotion of this time a home town winner.

Hayden rocks up and takes the trophy home after the first of 32 laps. The others were not in the same race. Hayden took off like a scalded raccoon and was never seen again. Rossi kept in touch, but never closed on him before Edwards passed Rossi where he least expected it at the top of the corkscrew.

Edwards went on the rampage, making inroads to Hayden before the Honda rider responded putting enough of a buffer in between himself and the yellow Yamaha to the flag.

It all proved that local knowledge did make a difference, and that Rossi is that good by getting in amongst them without ever having been here.

For Hayden to do two cooling down laps with his Dad on the back of the bike was brilliant. Unfortunately the cameramen had stood down for a quick drink and a cigarette and missed it, but is was an emotional day for the AMA SBK champion of 2002 who last won a race back then.

He needs to get back in that winning groove as a 23 year old to keep his confidence up as he steps into the next level of his career as a Grand Prix victor.

There were times last season when he was not looking like it could happen, but falling off an Enduro bike in September didn't help, putting him on the back foot for races during contract time, but Honda stayed sure of themselves as they tried to beat Rossi.

"We at Honda have always had faith in Nicky," said Makoto Tanaka the Repsol Honda Team Manager. It was the right place to win too as Mr Takeo Fukui, the President and CEO of the Honda Motor Company, witnessed Honda's first premier class victory at Laguna Seca.

Ironically the race was bankrolled (can I say that?) by Yamaha who paid for the safety modifications to be made so that the track could get a licence from the FIM. The irony of having Yamaha's Eddie Lawson hand the trophy to Honda's rider would not have been lost on the hoards of Japanese big wigs all around the paddock all weekend.

Anyway... the good thing about Hayden is that he does not bite to the Rossi mind games. In answer to Rossi's comment of following Hayden during practice, he quipped, "Well if he just stays there for all of Sunday that's fine by me."

Hayden didn't even pay to get in here in 1994, the last time the race came to town. He hitchhiked his way from the airport, jumped the fence with his brothers, and dodged security staff all day.

What a fairytale for a hometown kid to then go and win. Brilliant. If ever there was a song to go with Hayden's weekend it must be Learning to Fly from the Foo Fighters.

Even Rossi asks that Brad Pitt comes for an audience with him in his motorhome after Pitt toured pit lane on Sunday morning. A total scrum took place in front of the garages with Pitt entering into the works Yamaha garage for meet up with the riders.

After a quick chat with mechanics and Jerry Burgess, Colin Edwards appeared who had seen that Pitt was in the garage on the TV feed. Rossi sent his runners over the garage and then Pitt made his way to the Rossi motorhome.

The American Yamaha yellow colour scheme was here for two reasons. The first is obvious, the second is that it was the closest date after Yamaha's birth on July 1st 1955. They were racing two weeks after their formation.

We know that the Yamaha North American livery will never be seen again this season, but the deal between Gauloises (Altadis) and Yamaha is only for 15 of the 17 races in the 2005 season. Keep an eye out for the corporate Red and white of Yamaha elsewhere.

Japan... where and why anywhere else?


Rossi was again late for the Thursday afternoon press conference. Indeed so late he did not arrive. Caught in traffic after a trip to San Francisco was the reason. Surely World Champions take Helicopters nowadays?


Marco Melandri had a rough time of it at the end of the first lap. After Gibernau took a wide line through the penultimate corner, it meant that there was a bit of bedlam taking place at the last corner. Melandri was up on the inside of Barros and was braking late. Unfortunately too late, taking the pair of them out.

Melandri's right wrist was swollen up like a balloon after the race, soon to board a plane to see a specialist in Spain before going to England for 'training and sleep' as he puts it. Melandri has now slipped to within seven points of Max Biaggi in the championship, and of course a gargantuan 79 points behind Rossi.

Barros rode brilliantly in qualifying. Catching 3 riders on his hot lap was still good enough to bag third on the grid. He knew it was going to be a tough race, with medical treatment to harden his hands before the race.

Gibernau actually rode one hell of a race from 13th on the grid - his worst qualifying since the disastrous Motegi last year. Discovering that an extra 0.5 bar in the tyres worked so much better on Sunday morning, he knew that he could fly. The resulting 5th was "one of my best races of the season, if not the best..."

The Spaniard was lucky he was not riding in the AMA SBK series after his pre event outburst on Thursday. One c**p and three F**ks would have seen $4,000 wing its way over to the organisers if he were riding Stateside.

Edwards was down to earth as always about safety at a track. "There are some corners where you know the first time you go through them that you cannot crash on, and some of those corners are here."

That is exactly the reason that many accidents happen on wide open race tracks with miles of run off.

Nicky Hayden caught Sete Gibernau following him in practice, but soon pulled in to stop him following. "He doesn't let me follow him in the parking lot never mind on the track."

The speed of the bikes was mighty. Biaggi and Hopkins were cresting the hill towards Turn 2 with both wheels off the ground in practice...


American driver Dan Gurney was at the track, an F1 winner in a Gurney Eagle Weslake V12 at the Belgian GP at proper Spa... many say still the best looking F1 car of all time.

With no 125s and 250s present, it gave the chance for an extra hour of practice for the MotoGP bikes on Friday. Word has it that there will be an extra 30 minutes for the big class on Friday and Saturday morning in Istanbul in October.

Big hitting Japanese were also at Suzuki. Group Leader of Motorcycle Planning Mr Tak Hayashi was in town. He is, as some put it, the man with the wallet. See result. Need to spend... may be the result of a day at the races...

It was his first ever visit to a MotoGP.

There is to be another Faster movie. Producer Mark Neale was in town with his crew making a movie outlined as the 'American Race'. Based around the American weekend at Laguna, the focus was upon the Americans and Rossi. Englishman Neale couldn't have written a better script.

With 100,000 copies of Faster having been distributed the world over, it is an extremely well known film in the USA with many fans...including Brad Pitt who came to the Laguna off the back of seeing the movie only a few weeks ago. "I got a copy to him and it all went from there," said Mark Neale.

A release will not be for some while, but please go out and buy copies to support the next film!

Getting into the USA was easier said than done for some paddock people. One management representative of the reigning World Champion did not get past check-in after passport/visa difficulties. Not even Rossi can swing that one!

Kenny Senior was as always on form for the weekend at home. "Hey, we may even win the 600 race with this bike..!"

At least Kenny would have approved of one journalist with Media Credentials for the race. Penthouse - and it seemed half of their content - was in the house.

Donington is next with the British Grand Prix. Day of Champions on Thursday July 21st will raise over ?110,000 ($200,000) for Riders for Health. Auctions on line are at www.riders.org/en/auctions/

Chaz Davies phone line for the opportunity to win 2 paddock passes for the weekend are available on 0906 40 30 713.

Toby Moody

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