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Page last updated at 20:22 GMT, Friday, 18 July 2008 21:22 UK

Steve Parrish's MotoGP column

Steve Parrish
By Steve Parrish
BBC motorbikes commentator

Dani Pedrosa
Pedrosa waved goodbye to the points when he fell off in Germany

This weekend's race at Laguna Seca is like the last day of school before the summer break.

If you do well, your holiday is off to a great start.

But if you have a bad weekend, you've got a month of being stuck with that until the next race, and a lot of people will be left cursing what they've done.

And that's precisely how Dani Pedrosa must have felt after what happened last time out in Germany.

It looked like he would walk away with it, but he pushed the boundaries and paid the price for it when he came off.

He's been the steadiest and most consistent person who doesn't take risks and builds up points, and he was leading everyone by 1.5 seconds a lap.

Coming off like that was totally uncharacteristic, but Valentino Rossi must have been relieved - he made a mistake the previous race in Assen and then one of his main rivals did the same, to cancel it out.

Casey Stoner and Pedrosa have now failed to score any points in one race - the only difference is that Stoner's wasn't down to a mistake, he just suffered engine failure at Le Mans.

Harley riders
American biking culture is very different to Europe

One thing we'll be hoping for in California this weekend is dry weather - so far this season, only Qatar and Barcelona have been entirely dry race weekends.

Laguna Seca is a great venue, and one of the most interesting circuits we go to.

It's very short, but has real character - it's set in a national park and has the most amazing corner, "The Corkscrew," where the track plummets down at a hugely steep angle, something like 40 degrees.

California's quite a decent place to go to but the biking culture out here is mainly Harley Davidsons.

It's a massive market for the Japanese manufacturers and Ducati, but considering the number of people living here, MotoGP is still a very small sport - if you asked people in the middle of San Francisco who Nicky Hayden was, they probably wouldn't have a clue.

Nicky's had all his true success here and he could well do with getting on the podium as he's having a nightmare season.

He's got the new engine he wanted, he says he's happier and he looks it in practice, but something always goes wrong.

Another American, Colin Edwards, will also want to do well.

He's bang on form and looking as strong as he's ever done in MotoGP.

He didn't have a great deal of luck here last year but seems happy with the bike and himself at the moment.

James Toseland, Herve Poncharal and Colin Edwards
Same again for the Tech 3 team next season

There was a lot of talk he could move on but he's just signed a new contract to stay with Tech 3 Yamaha next year, which means the whole of James Toseland's team has got its future sorted out.

Stability-wise, that's got to be good for James too.

They get on well as team-mates and they're all locked in. Like Nicky, James is another one who could do with pulling himself out of doldrums this weekend.

He likes the track here, so there's no reason why he shouldn't have a good result.

The rumour mill is creaking into life now. Colin had been rumoured to be one of the big movers, but his future is done and dusted now.

It looks like there will be a change in the Ducati camp, this could be Marco Melandri's last race before he goes off to somewhere new, maybe Kawasaki, but we're not sure.

At Honda, Andrea Dovizioso could be taking over from Nicky Hayden who could go to Ducati, but everyone's keeping their cards close to their chest at the moment and by the time we get back to the next race in Brno after the summer break, it's more likely we'll see what's happening.

Going into the break, getting a good result this weekend will be a real bonus.

But a bad one will be really nasty, as you've got to stew in your own juice until the season restarts.

Laguna Seca prediction 1. Stoner 2. Rossi 3. Vermeulen

Steve Parrish was talking to Julian Shea

Live coverage of the Laguna Seca MotoGP on this website and BBC2, 2140-2300 BST Sunday 20 July

see also
Edwards signs new Yamaha contract
18 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes
Matt Roberts' MotoGP round-up
13 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes
Stoner win blows title race open
13 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes
German MotoGP as it happened
13 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes
MotoGP on the BBC
02 Jun 08 |  Motorbikes
MotoGP world championship
01 Jun 08 |  Motorbikes
BBC pundits on MotoGP 2008
06 Mar 08 |  Motorbikes
Contact the motorbikes TV team
06 Mar 07 |  Motorbikes

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