2018 Laguna Seca World Superbike Notes: What We Learned At Laguna

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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Total votes: 81
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Comments

I'm a fan of Johnny Rea and Kawasaki; however, let's hope that KRT will sign someone who can take the fight to Rea. Additionaly, let's hope that Ducati will have the new V4 developed, and that Chaz will meld with with the V4 Panigale in 2019. 

Total votes: 49

...is that I am 100% sure this time, that I will end my video subscription to the World SBK snooze fest.

If Dorna and WSBK official want to turn the tide they should have a look at BSB....

Total votes: 36

I'll be super disappointed if Leon Haslam winds up as Tom Sykes KRT replacement. He's a terrific rider but at 35 years old he is neither an immediate possible title challenger nor a potential future contender. He's had his WSB shot, it's best for him to finish his career as a benchmark for the young guys to beat in BSB.

I'd much rather see Kawasaki regenerate behind Rea. From outside the championship, they could take a flyer on the likes of Jake Dixon or Bradley Ray (though a Rea and Ray team could be confusing!) or give Cameron Beaubier an opportunity.

The ideal scenario would be the rumoured signing of Michael van der Mark (and as a big Sykes fan I'd like to see them swap seats). That would give team green Rea to contend for now with VDM to compete now and build around for the future whilst having Toprak Razgatlıoğlu waiting in the wings.

Total votes: 44

I was surprised to read in the article that his name was in such strong contention, considering he's not even racing in SBK this year. I know he's keeping sharp in BSB, but I too feel like they need some younger blood in there. They already have their "reliable" rider in Rea. VDM would be interesting, as he's shown that he is always up for a scrap even with his own teammate. Always fun to watch.

Total votes: 37

agree.. Leon haslam already have his time in wsbk, he's good rider but not championship material..there are lots of younger talents..it takes exceptional rider to challenge rea domination..laverty or mvdm is two better options, also lots of unemployed mgp cast like smith, redding, etc.. unless kawak aim for perfect harmony within garage or for development purpose, as not to disturb rea pecking order.

Total votes: 37

they need to take a leaf out of motogp book and level the playing feild.The combination of J R and the Kawasaki is killing WSB.Its absolutely baffling to me why the other guys cant challenge him.I have stopped watching it for the first time in years

Total votes: 37

I believe its the " Die has been cast"

Total votes: 40

... is a no-brainer for the series. He's developed into a world-class talent over the last few seasons. When Elias arrived in MotoA I, like many others, thought it would ultimately harm the series. But now I see Toni is a perfect stepping stone onto the world-stage for Cameron. Overcoming a veteran professional like Elias feels a lot like the Spies vs Mladdin era. Spies had to up his game considerably to defeat Mladdin, which sent him into WSBK more than prepared for the field.

Total votes: 37

strong on whatever he throws a leg over.

Total votes: 42