Rossi Knocks Elbows with Stoner for Stunning Laguna Seca Victory

The ending no one expected to the first US stop of the MotoGP came with Valentino Rossi snatching his first victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Odds favorite, Ducati Corse's Casey Stoner had already amazed the crowd with multiple track record smashing laps in qualifying, but had no where to go except off the track when Rossi out rode the Australian World Champion.

In a nail biting first few laps, both Rossi and Stoner traded places for the lead numerous times, with Rossi being run off the course and into the dirt in the world famous Corkscrew. Rossi managed to hang on to the lead and left a frazzled Stoner with no where to go - no where to pass. As Stoner looked for holes in Rossi's perfect ride, by lap 23 it appeared as though the Ducati rider had an opening for the lead, however running wide into turn 11 at the entrance to the front straight, Stoner ended up in the gravel and tipped over at slow speed.

Cheers erupted from the crowd as Rossi's win was now all but guaranteed. Valentino's lead expanded to 16.4 seconds as he finished the race unchallenged.

With the checkered flag in hand, Rossi stopped in the corkscrew, dismounted, knelt down and kissed the pavement surface.

Stoner finished second and Rizla Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen placed third.

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Photo: Rick Menapace

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