The US Round of the 2018 WorldSBK season highlighted once again the importance of hard work in motorcycle racing. Last year it was hard to imagine Milwaukee Aprilia standing on the podium on merit; on Sunday Eugene Laverty made his long awaited return to the rostrum. We have seen in recent rounds Yamaha win three races with the R1, but last weekend's races arguably did more to prove the potential of the bike.
Aprilia back in the hunt
After a four-year wait Eugene Laverty finally managed to scratch an itch, and spray some prosecco. The Irishman has been a title contender in the past, though he has suffered from poor machinery in recent years, but the hard work of the Shaun Muir Racing outfit paid off with a superb weekend. Laverty was on the pace throughout and looked very comfortable from FP1 as he finally converted potential into points. His 2018 season will always be punctuated by his crash in Thailand, but it now appears to be a pause rather than a full stop on his aspirations.
Yamaha making strides
Winning races hasn't become the norm for Yamaha yet but their pace in America should be enough to prove their potential for the rest of the year. Alex Lowes' podium in Race 1 and both riders finishing inside the top five in Race 2 proved that on their bogey track - only one top five in recent years - the R1 is now a contender. The scrap between Lowes and his teammate, Michael van der Mark, arguably lasted too long for Lowes to challenge Laverty but Yamaha can walk away satisfied with their weekend.
The grim Rea-per
It's hard to find a more dominant package in racing than Jonathan Rea and Kawasaki. The triple world champion has open an almost unassailable lead in the standings and seems to get stronger by the round. His double victory in California as dominant as anything we've seen of late with the foundations laid firmly in Friday practice. His race pace in FP2 was impressive and he brought that forward to both races. Rea is riding with total confidence and until someone can upset that equilibrium his success will continue.
Sykes signs off from Kawasaki
There is now little doubt within the paddock that Tom Sykes will be replaced for 2019, with Leon Haslam looking very likely to be confirmed in the near future. For Sykes, the weekend started with a surprisingly explosive interview on British television, and from that point onward it was clear that the dye was cast and Sykes has been told his future lies away from Kawasaki. Where that future will be is uncertain, but it also appears that his crew chief, Marcel Duinker, could be on the move from KRT. The Dutchman has been crucial in developing a bike and setting around Sykes' riding style and is being linked with a move to work with Michael van der Mark, although remaining with Sykes shouldn't be discounted.
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