Press releases ahead of this weekend's World Superbike round at Laguna Seca:
WorldSBK is California-bound for the Geico US Round
Legendary Laguna Seca hosts ninth event of 2015 season.
Round 9 of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship season takes the field to the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the 13th time. Set on the outstanding Pacific coast of Central California, the venue first hosted ten consecutive WorldSBK events between 1995 and 2004 before returning to the calendar in 2013. Prior to this, American events for World Superbike were staged at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota (1989-1991) and Miller Motorsports Park in Utah (2008-2012). At 2.2 miles (3.6 kilometres) in length, Laguna Seca is the fourth and final anti-clockwise circuit this year after Phillip Island, MotorLand Aragon and Imola.
Having dominated the season so far, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) has won 11 of the 16 races and finished second in the other five. Almost unbelievably, he is yet to claim a race victory on any of the five circuits that remain on the 2015 calendar (Laguna Seca, Sepang, Jerez, Magny-Cours and Losail); one can imagine that will have changed by the time the curtain falls in Qatar on the night of Sunday 18 October. Rea is currently on a run of 17 podium finishes. Only Colin Edwards has ever racked up more successive rostrum results, with 25 in 2002; Rea will beat this should he finish inside the top three up to and including Race 1 in Qatar. Should he win seven more races this year (with ten still to go), he would also beat Doug Polen’s long-standing record from 1991 of 17 race wins in a single season.
In terms of Laguna Seca and the current field, one looks to Tom Sykes for success. The 2013 title winner is the only rider on the grid to have previously won at the undulating track, taking one win from each of the previous two years. In 2014, he ended the shortened second race (a seven-lap sprint following two red flag stoppages) with a 44-point championship lead over Sylvain Guintoli. The rest is history…
Staying on the topic of history, it is Australian and American riders who have won more times than any other nationality at Laguna Seca. Competitors from the southern hemisphere country have taken the chequered flag at Laguna on no less than nine occasions, while Americans have won in California seven times. This is not set to change in 2015, with neither Australia nor the United States represented in the category at present. However, this round will be closest to home for Argentina’s Leandro Mercado; while he is yet to compete in WorldSBK at the circuit, he does know it well following his time in AMA road racing. He is looking to return his Barni Racing Team bike to the top 15, having failed to score points in Misano Race 2 for the first time this season.
Elsewhere, 2011 World Champion Carlos Checa – who never finished on the podium at Laguna Seca – completed three days of testing with Ducati Test Team at Mugello two weeks ago, as the Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team strives for another victory. Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano have both finished in second place at Laguna Seca, in the pair of 2013 races; in the Italian’s case, he missed out on victory to Eugene Laverty by just one tenth of a second. Nevertheless, Ducati remains the most successful constructor at Laguna Seca, with ten race wins in total.
Another manufacturer in a position to celebrate a significant number this weekend is Kawasaki, which will equal Yamaha’s 74 World Superbike wins should it claim the top spot one more time. With two victories, Kawasaki would become only the third constructor in WorldSBK history to claim 75 race wins, after Ducati and Honda.
As for Leon Haslam, just taking part in Race 1 will be enough for the Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils man to move into a select club of nine riders to have started 200 races in the World Superbike class. By the time the second race comes, he will equal compatriot James Toseland on 201 starts; only Carl Fogarty would then have more starts to his name as a British rider, as the four-time World Champion competed in 219 races.
With a cushion of 133 points over team-mate Tom Sykes, many argue that Jonathan Rea already has one hand on the title. The same could be said for Kawasaki, whose advantage over nearest rivals Ducati in the Manufacturers’ standings is 122. This confirms that no title can be sewn up in America this weekend, with a maximum of 250 still up for grabs between now and the end of the season.
American WorldSBK Round Next Up For Kawasaki Racing Team
With the second half of the 2015 FIM Superbike World Championship season well underway Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes will now face two ‘long-haul’ rounds in succession, beginning with the Laguna Seca weekend between 17th and 19th July.
So far KRT riders have won the great majority of the races, having secured 14 of the 16 possible victories since the start of the year. Championship leader Jonathan Rea has taken 11 of those wins, with his team-mate Tom Sykes having secured three.
Since Laguna Seca returned to the WorldSBK calendar in 2013 Sykes has taken two race victories for Kawasaki at the 3.610km circuit near the town of Monterey in California. Rea was forced to miss the first return to Laguna in 2013 through injury but last year he learned the circuit well enough in his first visit to record a third place in race two.
In the current championship Rea has a total of 375 points and Sykes is in second place on 242 points. Kawasaki has 390 points in the Manufacturers’ Championship and a healthy 122-point lead overall.
Each KRT rider will arrive in America with strong recent form to rely on, having shared a win apiece at the previous championship round in Misano, on 21st June.
After the completion of the Laguna Seca weekend the championship relocates to Asia and the impressive Sepang International Circuit for the tenth round of the series, between 30 July and 2 August.
Jonathan Rea: “I am ready to get back into it because three weeks off is quite a lot. I want to keep going, not just to carry the momentum but also because I enjoy my time at the track. I miss hanging out with my team and riding my bike because I am really enjoying being at the track this year. I wish we had a lot more race weekends than just 13. We have had an amazing start and have a good thing going. We want to continue that and achieve better things. I want to win as many races as possible in the year. From pre-season testing onwards our goal has been to win the championship and now, just after the halfway stage, we are in a good position. I have only ever raced at Laguna once because I was injured when the championship went there two years ago. With one year more experience there I hope we can do a good job. I was on the podium in race two last year and, in the paddock show after the race, it was nuts!”
Tom Sykes: “I am really looking forward to Laguna. I love the country, the people and the circuit, so I am really fired up and motivated. I have gone well at Laguna even though we have only been going for two years. I won the first race the first time I competed there and that is a nice memory. We have a decent track record there, which gives me something extra to aim for. It is a great circuit, tight and technical. I have been speaking with my crew chief Marcel and we have some ideas in the pipeline. We need to try a couple more things on the bike and hopefully we can make some more progress. We have had a little bit of bad luck dealt to us in the last couple of races so it would be nice to try and get over that and really start to get the results we deserve.”
David Salom (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) and Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki will continue their battle in the midfield when they get to Laguna, with Ramos currently in 14th place overall on 51 points, while Salom is just one place and eight points behind.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team travels Stateside for Round 9 of the Superbike World Championship
Arezzo/Borgo Panigale (Italy), Tuesday 14 July 2015 - The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team now travels to the United States for Round 9 of the 2015 Superbike World Championship, taking place this coming weekend at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.
It has been three weeks since the Italian team was last on track, scoring positive results at its home round of Misano. Both Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies reached the podium, obtaining a second and third place finish respectively and confirming this season’s positive trend. Strong from the results achieved thus far, the Aruba Ducati pair are confident as they travel on to the American event.
Last season’s US round did not go according to plan for either rider. After suffering a bad highside in Race 1, Davies was deemed unfit to participate in Race 2, a frustrating outcome for the Welsh rider, having completed positive practice sessions and qualifying on the front row. Giugliano was able to close the first of the day’s races fourth but then a crash in what became a complicated Race 2, run in three parts, put paid to his chances of reaching the podium.
As the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team enters into this ninth championship round, Davies is in fourth position in the general standings, with 213 points, while Giugliano is seventh with 106 points. Ducati lies second in the manufacturer’s classification with 268 points.
Comments ahead of the event:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7)
“Laguna is one of my favourite tracks and I’m looking forward to being in America again. I’m heading over there a week early for some training and relaxation before travelling to the circuit. Last year was a huge disappointment because everything was going well and we were in a position to score some good results but then a crash in race 1 ruled me out of race 2. I’ll be doing my best to make up for that this year...”
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #34)
“The Laguna Seca track is really spectacular and one I really enjoy racing at. I’ve completed some solid races there in the past and I think our chances are good this time around too. Last year we had very strong pace but unfortunately I was unable to achieve the kind of results I’d hoped for. This year I’m feeling well prepared and am confident that I’ll be able to complete two good races.”
ALTHEA RACING PREVIEW: LAGUNA SECA
With the cancellation of the Russian round, Team Althea Racing prepares for the third of the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship’s five long-haul rounds, taking place in the United States of America.
The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will host the ninth round over the weekend of 19 July. The particular characteristics of the Californian track, and its legendary “corkscrew”, guarantee a real show and highlight riding ability. An old-school track for tough riders where, as well as a good bike set-up, the skill and courage of the rider counts for a lot. Only the Superbike category will attend the American round while the Team Althea Racing riders participating in the Superstock 1000 series, Luca Salvadori and Raffaele De Rosa, will enjoy watching the SBK races from home. Of the two, Raffaele is surely the most relaxed, fresh from his second place finish scored at the Misano round.
It is therefore up to Matteo Baiocco and Niccolò Canepa to fight on behalf of the team on board their Ducati Panigale R bikes.
Niccolò, who only returned to Team Althea Racing as of the last round, taking the place of Nico Terol, knows the Californian track well and is convinced he can do well. The twelfth place scored in race 2 at Misano, and his first points, were an important injection of trust for both him and the team. Laguna Seca is definitely not the track at which to increase feeling with a bike that you don’t know well but Canepa’s undisputed talent will be the added value that can make the different at this type of track.
Niccolò Canepa: “I’m pleased after my first weekend with the new bike. I was able to be consistent in both races even though, in race 1, I unfortunately had to stop. I am adapting the bike to suit me and can’t wait to get to Laguna Seca because the bike is working really well and the feeling I have with the team is the same as last year. I’m feeling really confident.”
Matteo Baiocco flies to the States hoping to make up for the unlucky races at Misano. Tyre wear problems limited his performance and the potential that we all know he has. For Matteo this is his first visit to Laguna Seca but we are convinced that he will soon find the right feeling. His experience in the BSB championship, where many of the tracks are tight and undulating, will surely be to his advantage, helping him to improve on the overall tenth place he holds in the championship.
Matteo Baiocco: “The Misano races did not meet with my expectations and despite the efforts made by the whole team we were unable to obtain what we’d hoped for. Now we head to the tough but spectacular Laguna Seca round. A brand new experience for me and I cannot wait to get to grips with the track.”
WORLD SUPERBIKE AT LAGUNA SECA
THE LEGENDARY AMERICAN TRACK HOSTS THE FACTORY DERIVATIVE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
LEON HASLAM: “WE'VE BEEN ON A FOUR WEEK BREAK. I CAN'T WAIT TO GET BACK TO WORK"
JORDI TORRES: “LEGENDARY TRACK, COULD BE WELL SUITED TO MY RIDING STYLE"
Noale, 14 July 2015 – Four weeks after the Misano round the World Superbike Championship is travelling to the United States to take on the historic Laguna Seca circuit. This track is famous for its “Corkscrew” turn, a steep downhill direction change, but it also has some spectacular characteristics that always make for memorable races.
For Team Aprilia Racing - Red Devils the Laguna Seca round marks the beginning of the final stretch, with the Italian team still in the running for the top spots of both the rider and the manufacturer standings. It is an exciting and demanding battle, given the skill of the adversaries and the balanced competition that has come out during the 2015 season.
Both Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres are anxious to get back onto the track after the break. The English rider can count on physical fitness which is back to optimum after the rib injury that heavily impacted the central part of his season. For Leon the characteristics of the track and the high temperatures may be an advantage for his RSV4 RF, the reigning World Champion bike, in the hunt for victory.
Leon Haslam: “The American round is always a special race and it marks the beginning of the final stretch of the season. I'm confident both because of the characteristics of the track and the high temperatures that we'll find at Laguna Seca. On top of that we've been on a four week break, so I can't wait to get back to work with my guys and I'm happy to do it in front of the American fans.”
Jordi Torres is quite motivated and he spent much of the summer break preparing for the last part of the season both physically and mentally. For his first time on the Californian track the Spanish rider knows that he'll need to memorise the characteristics in a hurry in order to be able to focus on the usual job of fine tuning his bike's settings. Jordi also thinks that the busy nature of the track should adapt well to a fluid riding style and he is straining at the bit to taste the American tarmac for the first time.
Jordi Torres: “We are going to Laguna Seca, a legendary circuit where I am really happy to have the chance to race. We'll need to learn it quickly and take maximum advantage of the RSV4 RF. The track is very busy, with turns one right after the other, and that could be good for my riding style. I used this break period to work a lot on my physical fitness in the gym and to mentally prepare for my first time on the “Corkscrew.” I can't wait to get back in the saddle on my Aprilia!”
California dreaming for Lowes and de Puniet
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet are excited about tackling the iconic Corkscrew next week as the eni FIM Superbike World Championship heads stateside for round nine at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California.
Lowes showed impressive pace on his debut at the American circuit last year, concluding Friday’s three practices in fourth and finishing his first race in eighth on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R before a dramatic clash at the Corkscrew ended his day early. With experience of the layout now under his belt the British racer is looking forward to confronting the California track on his 2015-spec machine.
Having raced at Laguna Seca on six occasions throughout his career, with two top-six finishes, de Puniet is keen to return for his World Superbike debut on American soil. Looking to regain the momentum found at the Portimao test last month, the Frenchman is hopeful he can re-set and recharge the second half of his season aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
Originally built on U.S. Army land in 1957, following the path of a dry lake bed just 12kms from the central Californian coast, the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca began modifications in 1988 to become an FIM homologated circuit. The lengthened 3,602m layout features huge elevation and speed changes throughout due to its hillside location, with the production class machines reaching 258km/h during last year’s event despite its short straights (the longest of which is just 453 metres). Now a central part of the Monterey County Parks Department, the circuit’s seven left and four right-hand curves are somewhat overshadowed by the infamous Corkscrew at turns 8 and 8a which sees a blind crest give way to an 18m drop in just 137m of track, and denotes much of the racers’ enthusiasm for the US visit.
A change from the 2014 schedule sees Voltcom Crescent Suzuki undertake just two free practice sessions on Friday 17th July at 11:15hrs local time and 15:00hrs (19:15 and 23:00BST). With Sunday’s two 25-lap races on track at 11:30hrs and 14:30hrs (19:30 and 22:30BST) respectively.
“I have only raced at Laguna once, last year, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a technical track with a lot of elevation throughout but the most exciting part is definitely the world famous Corkscrew, it’s even steeper than it looks on TV! There aren't any parts of the circuit that I don't like but it is going to be really important for us to get the Suzuki working well there early on, so I can relax and concentrate on good lap times. I am really hoping to get my season 'back on track' in America, with a very solid weekend.”
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m looking forward to Laguna Seca as I really like the track and have good memories from my MotoGP™ races there. It is one of the most difficult and technical tracks on the calendar and is very physical with no easy places to overtake so the race can be a challenge but the famous Corkscrew corner is incredible! We are looking to continue the progress made so far with the GSX-R and for two good races on Sunday.”
Pata Honda riders target Californian boost
The Pata Honda team is preparing for round nine of the 2015 World Superbike championship which takes place this weekend (17-19 July) at Laguna Seca in California, USA.
French rider Sylvain Guintoli, 33, knows the 3.61km Laguna circuit well and collected two second place finishes at the iconic Californian track last season on his way to the 2015 World Superbike title.
After two ninth place finishes last time out at Misano in Italy, Guintoli is looking to make further development steps with his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine which has benefited from the recent addition of revised chassis components, such as a new swingarm.
For Pata Honda team-mate, Michael van der Mark, this weekend marks his first-ever visit to the United States and is the first stage of a demanding three-week racing schedule. Following the Laguna Sec a SBK event, the 22-year-old Dutch ace will fly directly to Japan to contest the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race, which he has won for the last two seasons.
From Suzuka, van der Mark, will make the relatively short hop to Malaysia for round 10 of the World Superbike championship at Sepang, near Kuala Lumpur on 2 August.
Set in a scenic national park a little under 200km south of San Francisco and just 16km off California’s stunning coastal Highway 1, Laguna Seca is a 3.61km roller-coaster of seven lefts and four rights and the nearby town of Monterey is a delight for visiting race fans.
Featuring perhaps the most infamous corner in racing – the legendary Corkscrew – Laguna has secured its own place in motorsport heritage. But the Californian circuit is much more than just one corner, even if it is one of the most daunting corners in world motorsport.
I really like going to America where everything is just big and different. It starts at the hire car desk where they usually give you the biggest car available! Everything about San Francisco and California lets you know that you’re in a very different place and Laguna Seca is like nowhere else that we race. I really like the track, every aspect of it is fun and exciting, and I had a couple of good results there last year. Of course, we still have work to do to be up where I think we should be and where we deserve to be considering the hard work that everyone in the team is putting into the CBR package. We will keeping concentrating on getting the best setting with the recent chassis changes and do our best to be closer to the front on Sunday.
Michael van der Mark
I’m really excited about this weekend because I’ve never even been to America before! Of course, I’ve seen some of the amazing races that have taken place at Laguna Seca and I'm really looking forward to riding the circuit for the first time myself. The Corkscrew is one of those corners that everyone wants to ride so I can’t wait to see it for the first time. It’s going to be a tough three weeks with the 8 Hour race on the weekend following Laguna and then Sepang the week after. I had a test on the Suzuka CBR last week with my new team-mate for the 8 Hour, which was good, but I’m really looking forward to getting back on my SBK Fireblade this weekend. I’ll start by learning the Laguna track on Friday and then doing my best over this first weekend.
Laguna Seca in WorldSBK history
Memorable moments and significant dates ahead of Round 9.
Colin Edwards (USA) leading the way on Bayliss (AUS) aboard his 'Stars and Stripes' Honda VTR (2002)
Laguna Seca first appeared on the WorldSBK calendar in 1995: a year of dominance for Carl Fogarty, whose path to the title that year been very similar to that so far of Jonathan Rea 20 years later.
The first race victory at Laguna was taken by Anthony Gobert, while championship leader Fogarty had to settle for fifth place, some 25 seconds behind and reporting engine-related problems. Troy Corser won Race 2, with Gobert behind him, while Fogarty’s difficult weekend ended in seventh position and over half a minute behind the winner.
Anthony Gobert (AUS) on the cool-down lap after his race one victory (1995)
Over the next two years, 1996 and 1997, few could match John Kocinski as the American clinched three of the four wins; the only exception was Race 2 in 1996, when he had everything under control until he fell on the final lap.
John Kocinski (USA) on his way to the double in 1996
With Kocinski having left World Superbike in 1998, it was again the turn of Corser at Laguna Seca, but a double was denied thanks to the Race 2 success of Noriyuki Haga.
Noriyuki Haga (JPN) celebrating his Race 2 victory (1998)
Corser was again the man to beat in 1999, with a third pole at the venue: a record which still stands. In the race, the Australian found himself unable to fend off the challenge of the Vance & Hines Ducati team: Gobert won Race 1 while Ben Bostrom pleased the local crowd by sealing his first WorldSBK victory in Race 2.
Troy Corser (USA) was on pole position...
but after Gobert it was Bostrom (USA) to win Race 2
The 2000 edition proved to be a repeat of 1998, with victories for Corser and Haga, while in 2001 Bostrom achieved a popular double; in fact, three of the American’s seven career victories came at Laguna Seca.
2002 is always remembered as the season in which Troy Bayliss and Colin Edwards (picture at the top) fought in classic style for the title. Laguna reflected this, as the duo shared the two wins.
It took until 2003 for a European rider to claim the top step. The honour went to Frankie Chili, who clinched Race 1 following a crash for Ruben Xaus. Xaus, trying his upmost to keep team-mate Neil Hodgson in touch for the title, would fight back to win the second race from Hodgson.
2003 - Frankie Chili (ITA) won race 1...
... while Ruben Xaus (SPA) claimed race 2 victory
In 2004, Chris Vermeulen found the sweet spot with Laguna Seca. Riding a Honda, the Australian took Race 1 in front of no less than six Ducati bikes, while in Race 2 the amount of Ducatis behind Vermeulen went up to seven; James Toseland – who went on to claim his maiden title that year – was less than one second behind the winner at the finish, with Regis Laconi completing the rostrum in third position.
Chris Vermeulen (AUS) attacking the Corkscrew, followed by James Toseland (GBR) and Regis Laconi (FRA)
After the 2004 meeting, World Superbike would not return to Laguna Seca until 2013; Tom Sykes clinched the first British victory at the Californian track, while Eugene Laverty would not give in to Davide Giugliano and won Race 2 by just 0.112 seconds.
Last year, Marco Melandri led an Aprilia one-two from team-mate Sylvain Guintoli in Race 1, while Race 2 was stopped twice before Sykes claimed the win. Guintoli ended the day with another second place in what would prove to be his title year.
Notable Laguna Seca facts
- 3 riders have won at Laguna Seca in years they become World Champion: John Kocinski did the double in 1997, Colin Edwards won Race 2 in 2002 and Tom Sykes won Race 1 in 2013
- Australian riders have been more successful than any other nationality at Laguna Seca, with 9 wins followed by the USA’s 7. No other nation has more than two wins to its name, although two have been achieved by three countries: Japan, Italy and Great Britain. The Republic of Ireland and Spain have one win apiece
- The riders with most Laguna Seca victories to their names have each won at the track three times: John Kocinski, Ben Bostrom, Anthony Gobert and Troy Corser
- Italian Frankie Chili was the only rider who competed in all 20 races that took place at Laguna Seca during its first stint on the calendar, from 1995 to 2004
- The only rider to have started from pole position at Laguna Seca on more than one occasion is Troy Corser (3 poles); each of the other nine pole-sitters have clinched the top grid spot only once