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The Americans are in for a treat on Sunday

I did think about losing three stone, implanting false boobs, adopting a comedy trout pout and filming my terribly important arrival in Los Angeles, but darn, Mrs B beat me to it. And, just as our American friends seem generally unaware of the Beckhams' existence (and, more to the point, Mr Beckham's chosen sport), so too is there a similar air of mystery about MotoGP in the States. But the sport's low profile is slowly changing, albeit without the media frenzy that envelops the Beckhams.

The main reason for this growing awareness rests firmly on the shoulders of reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden, who was born in Kentucky. It was pretty good timing that Hayden's return to form, after a dire first half to the season, coincides with his home grand prix at Laguna Seca, California. Over the past few years this meeting has grown in stature and the attendance has risen with it.

It helps that the pit lane is peppered with celebs - the presence of Brad Pitt, Ewan McGregor and Matt LeBlanc and their like helps the publicity - but it's Hayden who talks the talk. He has appeared on chat shows, in magazines and was once listed as one of America's most eligible bachelors.

As a circuit, Laguna Seca features an eclectic mix of twists, turns, crests and dips, so a little inside knowledge helps. This time last year the Kentucky Kid was on the top of his game and his home victory put him 34 points clear of his closest rival - and a whopping 51 ahead of Valentino Rossi. The majority of the MotoGP community embarked upon its the summer recess believing the silverware was Hayden's to lose. And Rossi almost made sure he did… This year Honda has an appallingly slow start, so Hayden can but salvage what he can from the campaign with as many podiums - wins, preferably - as possible. He has nothing to lose, though, because his title already has someone else's name lightly etched upon it. Hayden's last two rides have yielded a couple of podiums and we've seen a return of the chirpy chappie who won last year's title. Progress has come in the wake of a successful, bug-ironing test session in Barcelona, just before the British GP at Donington Park, but it was just a little too late.

Rossi, meanwhile, has been able to look at the positives of last weekend's German GP, where he crashed out: "I'm really glad we have only seven days to wait to get the chance to make up for that mistake," he says. "We're fast now and our package is working well, so I'm confident. We only lost 11 points and it's not the end of the world." The Italian also felt glad the Sachsenring unearthed a ***** in Bridgestone's armour - Rossi is on Michelins, of course. But to catch championship leader Casey Stoner he'll need to rely on his own ferocious work rate.

Others to watch this weekend include Rossi's Texan team-mate Colin Edwards, Australian Chris Vermeulen and Spaniard Dani Pedrosa.

Rossi is the one everyone will be watching, though: he is now 32 points adrift of Stoner and there's all to play for in the second half of the season.

Trust me, he'll play.

DSuzi Perry presents live coverage of the US MotoGP at 10.05pm tomorrow evening on BBC2.

Source: Telegraph UK
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