Press Release
(2005 FIM Road Racing World Championship)
Hayden on top as MotoGP returns to Laguna Seca

The MotoGP World Championship returned to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the
first time in over a decade today as the first free practice sessions signalled
the start of the Red Bull US Grand Prix in front of a bumper crowd. With tickets
for tomorrow's qualifying practice and Sunday's race already sold out, today
provided a unique chance for thousands of fans to see the world's premier
motorcycles and riders perform at the legendary venue.

Local enthusiasts were certainly not disappointed as home favourite Nicky Hayden
set the fastest time of the day in the hour-long afternoon session after
conceding superiority to compatriot John Hopkins in a split morning practice
totalling one hour and 50 minutes. Hayden's time of 1'24.228 was enough to drop
Troy Bayliss to second place by 0.223 seconds after the Australian had dominated
for much of the session, with Max Biaggi and Alex Barros completing an all-Honda
top four.

"It's nice to be fastest here at home - a real good feeling," said Hayden. "The
weekend has started out great. The bike is working well and we have made a
pretty good guess with the settings. Laguna is about how I remember it although
I haven't been here for three years. It does seem a little smaller on a MotoGP
bike though; I seem to remember the straight being really long but it feels
pretty short now! I'm really enjoying myself here with my brothers and my
friends, so hopefully the weekend can continue like this."

Hopkins built on his scorching early pace with an improved lap time in the
afternoon but eventually dropped to fifth on the combined time sheets, with
fellow American Colin Edwards also on the pace with the sixth quickest time.
Sete Gibernau was the fastest of the ten riders in the current MotoGP field to
have no previous race experience of Laguna Seca, lapping just 0.574 seconds
slower than Hayden in seventh place overall.

However, it was a tough first day for the Spaniard's team-mate Marco Melandri,
who suffered a spectacular crash in the notorious 'Corkscrew' section and was
lucky to escape with only bruising to his ankle and wrist. The Italian's fall
came at the end of the morning's first outing and, even though he missed the
next 50 minutes of available track time as he underwent checks in the Clinica
Mobile, he bounced back in the afternoon to set the eighth fastest time.

Melandri's brave efforts eclipsed a disappointing first day for his compatriot
Valentino Rossi, whom he trails in the championship by 63 points. Rossi, who has
won six out of seven races so far this season, clocked the ninth fastest time on
his first visit to the track riding in the black and yellow colours of Yamaha
USA, also sported by his factory team-mate Edwards.

Whilst Ducati rider Carlos Checa completed the top ten, his team-mate Loris
Capirossi ended the day 16th fastest after suffering a bout of nausea, headache
and fever after just a few laps of this afternoon's practice. The Italian was
treated in the Clinica Mobile for gastroenteritis, although doctors are not sure
whether the sickness was caused by cold or bad food. MotoGP's medical clinic
also gave brief checks to Ruben Xaus and Franco Battaini, who both escaped
unhurt after crashing.

INFO 2005/93. 8-07-2005