Press releases from the World Superbike teams and organizer ahead of this weekend's round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca:
USA bound for WSBK as ninth round draws near
Laguna Seca (USA), Thursday 10 July 2014 – The stunning Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will this weekend host the ninth round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Championship. This is the second year in a row that the Californian venue welcomes the series after an eight year absence from the calendar. Its fast and flowing layout, the lack of long straights and the elevation changes represent a real challenge for the riders, who have little time to catch a breath during the 3.610km lap. Furthermore, one of the most iconic corners in the world, the “Corkscrew”, with its blind crest followed by a quick left-right and a steep downhill section, will put to the test the riding abilities of the World Superbike stars.
Like last year reigning champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) enters the US Round as the points leader but this time with a much wider margin on his closest rivals. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) are chasing with a 42, 43 and 48 point gap respectively and they all hope to make some ground to the top before the summer break.
Sykes came out victorious in last year’s first encounter after edging Chaz Davies in the 12 lapper that took place after a second restart. The KRT rider was then fourth in in the second race after leading for the most part.
2013 pole sitter Sylvain Guintoli and his teammate Marco Melandri are looking forward to putting things straight after coming together in the wet second at Portimao whilst closing the gap to the leader. Both riders were major players in the battle for top honours in California a year ago, with the Frenchman missing the opportunity for a win due to the two red flag situations that characterised the first race. Melandri has stepped three times onto the Laguna Seca podium: once in WSBK last year and twice in MotoGP (2006 and 2007).
Second race winner at Portimao Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) will make his debut at Laguna Seca this weekend, as the Ulsterman had to miss the US Round due to the femur injury suffered at the Nurburgring two rounds before, which put a premature end to his 2013 campaign.
Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) had one of the best moments so far in his career last year at Laguna Seca, as he was second at the finish line in race 2 after battling for first place with early leader Sykes, before Eugene Laverty stole the show by getting the better of both rivals in the latter stages.
The Voltcom Crescent Suzuki rider is hoping to finally return to his early season form, although he is currently dealing with the foot injury sustained in Sepang a month ago. Alex Lowes, on the other hand, will take on the Corkscrew for the first time ever after another encouraging performance in Portugal.
Team MV Agusta Reparto Corse has selected Leon Camier to replace the injured Claudio Corti. Unlike the Italian, Camier has never raced at Laguna Seca before as he was unable to race due to the foot injury he had during free practice in Istanbul in 2013, whilst racing for the Crescent Suzuki squad.
Team Hero EBR arrive at their home race after equalling their season best race finish in Portugal after Aaron Yates finished 16th in race one. Both Yates and his teammate Geoff May are confident of a stronger race weekend on home turf after further development to the EBR 1190RX machine.
The all new EVO category has provided some excellent racing already this season and with the US Round approaching any of the current entries could be in with a shout of securing the best classified award and at the same time could well mix it at the front of the overall race. Current EVO leader David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) heads Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati), who started both races from the second row in 2013. The Spaniard has also lately being challenged hard by the returning Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team), who has shown impressive speed despite missing more than half of the season while recovering from injury.
An already full grid of 27 riders will increase to 29 with the addition of two American wildcard riders, Larry Pegram (Foremost Insurance EBR) and Chris Ulrich (GEICO Motorcycle Road Racing Honda). For Pegram it will be his third WSBK appearance after wildcarding here at Laguna in 1996 and 2000 on Ducati machinery.
Pata Honda aims high in USA
After racing last weekend at Portimao in Portugal, the Pata Honda World Superbike pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam heads directly to Laguna Seca in the US for next weekend’s (11-13 July) ninth-round races before going into an eight-week summer recess.
The World Superbike championship returned to the 3.610km Californian circuit last season for the first time since 2004, with this year’s visit marking the tenth anniversary of Chris Vermeulen’s double victory on his Ten Kate Racing Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.
However, Jonathan Rea missed the return visit in 2013 as he recuperated from a broken femur sustained at the Nurburgring in Germany. Coming directly from his race two win in Portimao last Sunday, this will be the first time the 27-year-old from Northern Ireland has taken the current World Superbike specification Fireblade on to the undulating Laguna track.
Haslam showed the potential of the Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP during Superpole at Laguna Seca in 2013, but the British rider, 31, was unable to translate that into two good results in the races that straddled last year’s race weekend – race one on Saturday with the second outing on Sunday.
This year’s schedule reverts to a slightly revised but still more traditional raceday format, as follows:
Laguna Seca World Superbike schedule (local times – GMT -7hrs):
Friday 11 July
10.30-11.15 Free Practice 1
14.00-14.45 Free Practice 2
16.45-17.30 Free Practice 3
Saturday 12 July
10.00-10.30 Free Practice 4
13.00-13.15 Superpole 1
13.25-13.40 Superpole 2
Sunday 13 July
11.00 Race 1 (25 laps, 90.250km)
14.45 Race 2 (25 laps, 90.250km)
I’m really looking forward to heading to circuit where I’ve not raced before. I think Laguna is going to be really exhilarating on the Pata Honda CBR and it’s no surprise that, with the infamous Corkscrew, it’s one of the most iconic circuits on the SBK calendar. I hope quickly to get over the disadvantage of having missed the race there last year through injury. Of course, we’re going there on the back of a win at Portimao which was really good for the morale of the team and it’s important that we try to carry that momentum into the summer break which comes after this weekend.
I enjoyed riding at Laguna last year and, although the race results weren’t so great, we did have one session when everything worked and came together OK in which we were quite competitive. I was happy with the progress that we made with different engine specification and chassis settings over the weekend in Portimao and I think that, when it’s dialled in, the CBR will really suit the special characteristics of Laguna Seca. So I’m looking forward to the weekend and to continuing the progress we’ve made.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-cordinator
It will be Leon’s second visit to Laguna with us and, although the races didn’t go to plan last year, he was able to show good potential over the weekend. I really hope we can continue with the good progress that we made with him last weekend in Portimao. Jonathan, of course, has not raced at Laguna because he had to miss last year’s race through injury. However, the circuit certainly has some elements that I think will suit him and his CBR. He’s a fast learner and we found a good new setting for him last weekend so I’m sure he’ll be looking to carry on where he left off in Portugal.
The Ducati Superbike Team travels from Portugal straight to the USA
Borgo Panigale (Italy), Tuesday 8 July 2014 - The Ducati Superbike Team travels on to the American circuit of Laguna Seca for round 9 of the 2014 Superbike World Championship, just two days after round 8 concluded at Portimao in Portugal.
The Ducati factory team, and riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano, are now traveling to the USA, and the Californian track of Laguna Seca, where they hope to be able to continue the trend of positive results obtained at last weekend’s Portuguese event. In Sunday’s second race, held at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve just a couple of days ago and in wet conditions, both Ducati factory riders celebrated reaching the podium, in second (Davide) and third (Chaz) position, the first time since June 2012 that two Ducati riders were on the rostrum together.
Both of the Ducati Superbike riders stepped up to the podium during last year’s Laguna event, in the track’s first appearance on the SBK calendar for nine years. Davies achieved a third place finish in the day’s first race, which was shortened after two crashes caused two red flags, while Giugliano missed the race win for just one tenth of a second in race 2, closing second and setting a new fastest lap (1’23.707) on lap 7 of said race. With both riders citing Laguna Seca, located in Monterey County in California, as one of their preferred tracks, they will be determined to power their 1199 Panigale bikes to positive results this coming weekend.
After the eighth round at Portimao, Davies holds sixth position in the general standings, followed by Giugliano, seventh. Ducati is still lying fourth in the manufacturer’s championship.
Comments ahead of the event:
Chaz Davies – Ducati Superbike Team #7
“I’m excited ahead of Laguna. I took a podium finish last time around and it’s always been one of my favourite tracks. California itself is a beautiful part of the world, whether you’re there to race or simply to relax. Canepa was going strong in the race last year with the Ducati, and both Davide and I scored some good results there too. I feel that we took another good step forward in Portimao and I’m hopeful that the bike will work well this coming weekend too; I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do at Laguna.”
Davide Giugliano – Ducati Superbike Team #34
“I admit that Laguna is one of my favourite tracks, it seems to suit my riding style and last year I came extremely close to taking the win in race 2. I can’t wait to get back to racing there and, after the podium at Portimao, I think we’ll arrive in America more determined than ever. I hope that we are able to adapt my Panigale to the track as quickly as possible, and that I am able to make two great races – I can’t wait.”
American Round Eagerly Anticipated By KRT Riders
The ninth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, at Laguna Seca in the USA, will take place just a few short days after the previous round in Portugal and all three official KRT riders are keen to get back into action again.
KRT SBK riders Tom Sykes and Loris Baz were each on the podium in race one at Portimao a couple of days ago before rain arrived for race two. Each official full SBK rider for KRT is focused to complete the American race in the best way possible and enter the subsequent summer break on a high note.
The same positive attitude is true of KRT SBK Evo rider David Salom, who will be out to add to his championship lead in the class-within-a-class Evo category at the naturally undulating circuit in California.
For Sykes the 2014 season took another step forward at Portimao, with his seventh win of the year in race one, and he will be out to try and replicate his 2013 season opening race winning performance at Laguna this weekend. Sykes is 43 points ahead on the eve of the ninth round of the year and intends to leave America with an even greater advantage by aiming for more race wins.
Sykes, the 2013 World Champion with Kawasaki, reached the milestone of 21 career race victories last time out and at Laguna he should reach another landmark in his career. After he begins race one in America he will have made 150 race starts in his SBK career. His statistics are already truly world class, with 44 career podiums including his 21 wins, 33 front row starts including 22 pole positions, and 21 fastest laps in races. His race victories have been recorded at 11 different circuits, with his first ever SBK win taking place at the German round in 2011.
Talented French rider Baz, still only 21-years old, has already won two SBK races with Kawasaki in his relatively short SBK career. He is still waiting for his first win of this season, however, despite some strong rides and taking eight podium finishes so far - the most recent a third place in race one at Portimao.
Baz is locked in a thrilling battle for overall second position right now, and is only five points from the rider above him, with another rider just one point behind him. Loris has never ridden at Laguna Seca after missing the race in 2013 through injury, but he is fully aware of the track’s legendary status and anticipates his first visit there as eagerly as any venue he has ever raced at.
In a strange quirk of fate Baz’s bad luck at not being able to race at Laguna Seca last year provided the opportunity for current KRT SBK Evo riders David Salom to take the weekend off from his regular WSS duties and compete for the full KRT Superbike squad. He finished 11th and ninth last year in America, which were more than respectable results on his first visit there.
In 2014 David is racing in SBK full time but on the official KRT Evo machine and he is currently the top Evo rider. He aims to be the Evo race winner – as he has been on many occasions this year – when it gets to raceday in America.
Laguna Seca was once a fixture on the SBK calendar, right up until 2004, which made its return to the class last year a highly popular reunion. At 3.610km long the Laguna circuit features many rises and dips, with the most famous sector being The Corkscrew. After a blind approach and entry the riders have to make a sharp left, which quickly becomes a drop down a steep gradient and then they have to make an almost immediate flick to the right to get around the final part of this unique chicane.
After Laguna the next race on the calendar is not until September 7th, and this will take place at Jerez in Spain.
Tom Sykes: “We had some success last year at Laguna. It was my first time there and we won race one but we had some issues in race two. These have been addressed since then, so I am very excited to be going back. I enjoy America, the way of life over there, the great circuit at Laguna, and I cannot wait to get going again. There will be no change of strategy and I hope we will be blessed with some sunshine. I am already looking forward to getting going there.”
Loris Baz: “We have America next, just a few days after Portimao. It is going to be cool because it is the first time I have been to Laguna Seca and I cannot wait to see the track. I know it is amazing already. I have to learn the layout but I sure it will not be a big problem. I am sure we are going to make something good there because it seems more or less like Portimao, up and down, and we have found some positive things for this kind of track. I am sure I am going to like Laguna Seca.
David Salom: “Laguna next and for me it is a very good track. I rode there last year with the KRT team in Superbike, as a substitute rider for Loris, and I finished very well. I like the track layout, the whole circuit itself, and I think it will be possible to fight for the Evo wins again.”
NO REST FOR WORLD SUPERBIKE 2014.
MARCO MELANDRI, SYLVAIN GUINTOLI AND THE APRILIA RACING TEAM WILL BE ON THE TRACK AGAIN THIS WEEKEND AT LAGUNA SECA.
Laguna Seca, 10 July 2014 - With just enough time to catch their breath after the Portimão races, it's already time for the Aprilia Racing Team to take to the track again. In fact, before the summer break begins the World Superbike calendar has scheduled rounds two weekends in a row: leaving Portugal behind the teams go immediately to Laguna Seca, the factory derivative American round.
The Californian circuit certainly needs no introduction. Historic and decidedly particular, it's most representative section is the "Corkscrew". But there are many exciting spots on this old school track that always provide for adrenaline filled races.
Marco Melandri loves the Californian track and the special feeling in the air at Laguna Seca. On the American track he will have the opportunity to continue his trend of consistent improvement which has him more and more of a protagonist in recent rounds: "Laguna is one of my favourite tracks, plus I love the atmosphere that you can feel in the air there. It will be nice to have three days of good weather and to be able to demonstrate what I am really capable of. I have nothing left to lose, so I'll be on the attack from start to finish.”
Last year it was red flags that decided the day's results. It was Sylvain Guintoli who paid the price after starting from pole position on his RSV4 and, twice in a row, was on his way to a win, riding alone at the front of the pack. After the second red flag the Frenchman was unable to find the right pace and he is eager to redeem himself this weekend: "Laguna is our last race before the summer break. Just like in Portugal, we need to attack and take risks so the championship fight stays open. At this moment, only this kind of attitude can help us. I am looking forward to it because last year I did the lap record in Superpole but then in the races I lost my focus feeling frustrated by the multiple red flags. I really think we can do a good job in California on Sunday”.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki prepares to confront The Corkscrew
With two eni FIM Superbike World Championship race weekend’s back-to-back Voltcom Crescent Suzuki travelled directly across the Atlantic from Portugal this week in preparation for the GEICO Motorcycle US round at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.
The second appearance on the WSBK calendar for the Monterey circuit in recent years, 2013 saw the race action spilt across two days with Eugene Laverty taking a last-lap podium place in Saturday’s race one and a hard-fought race win for the Sunday outing. With this year’s action following the standard schedule of two races on Sunday 13th July, Laverty is keen to get back to a track he believes his Suzuki GSX-R1000 can perform well at and is hoping to retrace his podium steps ahead of the eight-week summer break.
While Laguna Seca may be another new circuit for Alex Lowes, it is one the Championship rookie has wanted to get to grips with for a long time. After coming close to a podium result last time out at Portimao, Lowes is looking forward to putting his Yoshimura-powered steed through its paces around such an iconic track and has high hopes come race day.
Constructed in 1957 at a cost of 1.5 million dollars of locally-sourced money, the 3,610m, 11-corner circuit has a long history with motor racing but the track’s major talking point is The Corkscrew. Falling just over 33 meters between turns 8 and 9, with an 18% drop at the sharp right-hander of 8a, the left-right formation provides breath-taking racing and remains a feature that all racers want to experience.
Friday 11th July sees Voltcom Crescent Suzuki take to the track for all three timed-for-qualifying free practice sessions at the American circuit, with the opening action commencing at 10:30hrs local time (18:30BST). Saturday’s Superpole qualifying takes place at 13:00hrs local time (21:00BST) with Sunday’s races at 11:00hrs (19:00BST) and 14:45hrs (22:45BST) respectively.
“Much like Portimao I’ve been looking forward to Laguna Seca because I know that the GSX-R should work well round there. The Suzuki showed very good potential last year so we will try our best and it would be nice to get some podiums before the long summer break. It’s been a difficult run lately but I will give it my all to try and get back up there!”
“I can’t wait to get on track at Laguna this weekend. It has always been a dream of mine to ride there and to experience the Corkscrew. It’s another new track for me but the circuit should suit our bike well so I am really looking forward to getting down to work on Friday morning and pushing to run with the front guys on Sunday.”