Steve Parrish's MotoGP column

Alvaro Bautista
Suzuki rider Alvaro Bautista tackles the infamous Corkscrew corner at Laguna Seca last year

Casey Stoner will be concerned that his points lead at the top of the rider standings is slowly being eradicated as he returns this week to the scene of one of his most famous battles.

The Australian lost out to Valentino Rossi in a classic race at Laguna Seca in 2008 and was far from happy with the Italian's aggressive overtakingexternal-link in that race.

It's a shame that we are unlikely to see a repeat this time, as Rossi is so uncompetitive on the Ducati at the moment, but we may see some similar moves from other riders if we are lucky, especially at the Corkscrewexternal-link - one of the most dramatic corners in the whole sport.

You rarely see anyone brave enough to make a move there but Rossi did in 2008 and Stoner is still smarting from it now, three years on.

Casey Stoner (left) and Valentino Rossi
Rossi made a rare overtake down the Corkscrew in 2008

The Corkscrew is a daunting thing to tackle the first time you race at Laguna so it will be interesting to see how Britain's Cal Crutchlow, who is in his debut MotoGP season, gets on when he heads down it on Friday.

The Corkscrew is an important part of the track because it marks the start of the ride down back to the start/finish line. The track drops about 200ft in a very short period - it is such a steep slope that is very tough to walk up.

We do our best to portray the angle on camera but it is impossible to really get a proper sense of it unless you go in person. It is like dropping off a cliff edge.

It's one of the most spectacular sights in motorsport and I always try to get up there for the Friday morning practice session.

The riders enter it in second gear at around 65mph and then accelerate all the way down to the end of the lap.

With the announcement this week that , four American riders will now be racing in front of their home crowd this weekend. On current form, you would have to back Ben Spies to be the front-runner on his Yamaha.

Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden have it in them to mount a challenge for the top five but I fancy Spies to get on the podium.

The race marks the start of the the second half of the season and it's great that only 15 points separate Stoner and defending champion Jorge Lorenzo at the top of the standings. It promises to be a superb end to the season.

We've also had four different winners in the last four races. It was a cracker of a race at the Sachsenring, with three riders battling until the last corner, so hopefully it will be similar at Laguna Seca.

There are no Moto2 or 125cc races this weekend, which is a shame after the remarkable dead heat in the 125 race last Sunday.

Laguna Seca prediction:

1) Jorge Lorenzo 2) Dani Pedrosa 3) Ben Spies

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