Press releases after the first day of practice at Laguna Seca:
Davies ends opening day at Laguna Seca in charge
Times improve as temperatures rise in the Californian afternoon.
Chaz Davies (GBR) exiting Turn 3
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team) will head into Saturday’s decisive FP3 as the fastest WorldSBK rider on combined times after the opening two 45-minute sessions at Laguna Seca on Friday.
With the sun blazing, the factory Ducati rider improved, as did most of the field, to head the standings by 0.156s with a lap time of 1’23.633. The Welshman then ran off-track at high speed into Turn 1, thankfully keeping his Panigale R on two wheels before continuing for the final five minutes.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) finished second, stringing together an impressive run of consistent times, with Davide Giugliano elevating himself to third before falling off his Ducati machine at Turn 3 . The Italian, like his team-mate, was able to rejoin the track.
Fastest this morning, Jonathan Rea dropped to fourth place but remained close to the top time, with the leading nine riders covered by one second.
Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Ducati) was again solid in fifth, ahead of Leon Haslam who made a significant step forward with his Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils RSV4 RF, likewise team-mate Jordi Torres, who was seventh and followed by Voltcom Crescent Suzuki duo Randy de Puniet and Alex Lowes.
Reigning World Champion Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) rounded out the top ten with his final lap of the session.
Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Ducati) suffered a highside at Turn 3 in the opening minutes of FP2; the Argentinean rider was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks and was diagnosed with a second toe proximal phalanx fracture in his left foot, a right hip contusion and sprained ankle.
The action resumes on Saturday at 9:45am local time (GMT -7) with Free Practice 3, which will determine which riders will take part in the afternoon’s two Tissot-Superpole sessions.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team pleased with progress on day 1 at Laguna Seca
Monterey (USA), Friday 17 July 2015 – Round 9 of the Superbike World Championship got underway today at the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway in California, with positive results for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team in the opening timed practice sessions.
Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano were out on their Ducati Panigale R bikes this morning for the first timed practice, with both riders making a very strong start in dry, sunny conditions (air temperature 19°C, track 30°C). Constantly inside the top five positions, the Aruba Ducati pair continued to lower their times lap after lap. Welshman Davies set the third fastest time of the session, a 1’24.449, while Italian rider Giugliano finished just behind him, fifth, thanks to a time of 1’24.592.
The second session, which took place in warmer conditions later in the afternoon, saw the Italian squad take another step forward, with both Davies and Giugliano able to improve on their previous best laps by almost a second to conclude this first day in first and third position respectively. Despite a small crash for Davide and a small diversion for Chaz when he ran off track in the final stages, the two factory riders are pleased with the progress made and the team will return to the track tomorrow ready to take part in the final timed practice and Superpole.
Quotes after the day’s sessions:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 1st (1’23.633)
“All in all I’m pleased with the work we’ve completed today. The grip level was a little better this afternoon and we have been able to improve the bike. Here you need to take a step by step kind of approach and that’s what we’re aiming for. We’re concentrating on race distance because the races are long, but we don’t want to make any drastic set-up changes that might confuse us. We’re on the right track, and I think that we can find what we need by only making a few small modifications...”
Davide Giugliano - (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #34) – 3rd (1’23.858)
“We’ve been working hard on the set-up of the bike. Perhaps we still haven’t totally understood the direction to take but we’re doing well anyway and today’s result was not bad. I’m still not able to be as constant as I'd like lap after lap and this is a little worrying because this is a track where consistency is key. But we’ve made constant improvement today and so we’ll continue to focus on this aspect again tomorrow. I’m sure we’ll be able to improve further.”
Pata Honda work hard on day one at Laguna
Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark worked hard with their Pata Honda crews on the opening day of the ninth-round World Superbike championship at Laguna Seca in the USA today, with Guintoli setting the tenth fastest time.
Provisional pole position was taken by Chaz Davies, as French ace Guintoli, who ended this morning’s opening Free Practice in seventh place, put his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP a second behind the British rider’s time.
Van der Mark is visiting the USA and Laguna Seca for the first time and was deeply impressed by his initial laps of the 3.61km circuit, which included his first encounter with the infamous Corkscrew.
The Dutchman made steady progress learning the demanding circuit and ended day one in 14th place, but is confident of further improvement in tomorrow’s third Free Practice session ahead of Superpole, which will determine grid positions for Sunday’s two 25-lap races.
Sylvain Guintoli - P10, 1m24.742s
We’re still working hard in all areas to improve the CBR package and the lap times were consistent this afternoon, which is positive. I was also held up on each of my fast laps, so my ideal time is quite a bit faster than what we currently have. But we’re still missing some speed so we need to spend some time on the data tonight to understand where we can gain some time. There is not any particular part of the track or aspect of the bike that’s causing issues, it’s an overall thing that’s costing us a tenth or a tenth-and-a-half in each sector, but we’ll keep working hard to improve it.
Michael van der Mark - P14, 1m25.636s
It’s just amazing to ride this track. I’ve looked forward to it for a long time and the first couple of laps certainly impressed me. Riding down the Corkscrew for the first time, was… well, I can’t really use the words I want to, but it was incredible! I really enjoyed riding the track today but we still need to keep working on the bike, step-by-step, to improve the time. I hope tomorrow we can make a big step, because we need it, but I’m learning my way round here and I’m loving it.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Michael’s coming from Supersport so he’s new to this track and learning it is not easy. To do that while trying to find a setting is even more difficult and we’re working particularly on the front end of the bike and trying to improve grip levels. Sylvain started quite well this morning but from that point we could only improve the lap time by a few tenths. We tried a few things, including different gearing options, but we’ll take the good from this morning and the good from this afternoon and aim to move forward tomorrow.
Althea Racing Laguna Seca: friday practices
Laguna Seca (California), 17 July 2015
The first two timed practice sessions concluded positively today with Niccolò Canepa concluding in fifth position very close to the front. Matteo Baiocco is further back but making excellent progress (this is his first visit to the track).
Niccolò Canepa’s solid performance today projects Team Althea forward and gives the team a significant boost and added confidence after a period in which it has suffered some unlucky episodes.
The prudent approach of Matteo Baiocco is logical seeing as this is his first visit to the Californian track. The intense work carried out by his technicians and his desire to do well may well allow him to move into the top ten where he normally places, now at ease and in the company of many riders who are more experienced than him.
Niccolò Canepa: “After Misano where I ran my first race, and where I had a little trouble at first due to the approach of the new Superbike Ducati Panigale R, this is a track where I can really express myself, having always had great feeling here. Already today, scoring the fourth and fifth time, I think we’ve made a great start and this gives us confidence for tomorrow when I will try to obtain a front row position that I think is within reach. I’ve reconfirmed the great feeling that I had with this same Team in 2014 and this spurs me on and motivates me further.”
Matteo Baiocco: “This track is definitely difficult to learn and I’m understanding its secrets more and more with each lap. You can’t afford any mistakes and so I have to work well, personally speaking and also on the set up of my Ducati in order to ride it as well as possible. I believe that session after session I will be able to improve and hope to return to fighting in the front. Our aim is two bring home two strong results of course.”
Surgery proves successful for de Puniet with season best performance at Laguna Seca
A positive start to the eni FIM Superbike World Championship weekend at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca saw both Randy de Puniet and Alex Lowes in the top ten for Friday’s practices with eighth and ninth respectively, as de Puniet’s early ideal pace hinted at seventh on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R.
His season’s best performance for Friday practice continued into the afternoon as the Frenchman’s confidence, renewed from his recent ‘arm pump’ surgery, settled into his familiar rhythm with the Monterey track. Setting a 1’24.598 on his fifth lap of the second session, de Puniet concluded the day eighth in the combined times and eager to continue his development tomorrow.
Opening his second visit to the Californian circuit by completing 45 laps during the day’s two 45-minute sessions, Lowes worked consistently with his Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 to improve corner-entry confidence. With work still to be done, the British racer heads into Saturday’s final qualifying practice firmly in the top 10 and less than a second from the front times.
While air temperatures rose gently to an agreeable 23°C, the blue skies and Californian sun warmed the track by a further 20 degrees for the mid-afternoon action Chaz Davies claimed the provisional pole for Ducati, his 1:23.633 lap just two-tenths from the current lap record.
Lowes and de Puniet return to the Mazda Raceway at 09:45hrs local time (17:45BST) tomorrow for the final timed-for-qualifying practice, with Superpole commencing at 15:00hrs (23:00BST).
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m very happy! Today was a really good day, the feeling of the GSX-R has been good since first thing this morning and I’m feeling good myself on the bike. We’ve made some adjustments, some good some not, but in the end everything looks ok so far with the original settings and the lap time also looks good. I’m really hoping we can continue in this direction for the rest of the weekend and improve a little further to be close to the top five. It’s great to have two strong sessions and be close to the top, and I’m feeling much, much better after my surgery so I’m happy. I think the break was good for everybody, thanks to the team for continuing to work so hard throughout the year, now if we can have a good race and finish the season in this way it will be great.”
“Today we’ve been trying to find a bit more confidence from the bike. We’ve made a bit of progress throughout the day, it’s only Friday and there is still more to do but the lads are working hard as always. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, the track is great and I really enjoy riding it. Hopefully we can find that bit of confidence which I think will translate into big improvements in the lap times, so fingers crossed for tomorrow.”
Paul Denning - Team Manager:
“It’s great to be at Laguna Seca enjoying the Californian weather at such an amazing race track. As always two 45-minute session fly by very quickly and we didn’t get everything done that we would have liked to but none the less it was a pretty positive day overall. It’s Randy’s best Friday performance all year by some margin and it is great to see him riding with more confidence and enjoying the GSX-R.
“For Alex it has been a bit more frustrating, the pace is very consistent but it’s not fast enough to challenge the top competitors and we need to make some reasonably big changes, which always has the potential of going the wrong way, but we need to make that step forward! Randy’s performance – being a lot closer to the top guys – will also help in terms of data so hopefully the riders can work together to help each other to improve.”
Friday's Words & Pictures
Round 9 of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship began today with the two opening free practice sessions that, combined with the third one scheduled for tomorrow at 9:45am local time (GMT-7) will decide the twenty riders qualifying for the Tissot-Superpole of the GEICO Motorcycle US Round. Here is what some of the protagonists of today's action had to say during this afternoon's official press conference.
Chaz Davies - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team - 1st
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"Today has given us a solid platform. I thought it was going to go a bit wrong at Turn 1 as I arrived with too much speed, but we kept it upright. Looking forward to chucking the qualifying tyre in tomorrow, a good grid position here is so important."
When asked by a young fan what it is like to win, he said with a clear American accent "Awesome!" to the cheers of the crowd.
Tom Sykes - Kawasaki Racing Team - 2nd
Facebook: Tom-Sykes-66 Twitter: TheRealTomSykes
"It’s always great to start the weekend the right way. I’m carrying a few extra kilos following a few nights down in Fisherman’s Wharf but surely in 24 hours we won’t be carrying quite as much weight! It’s a fantastic circuit, with amazing fans and we have had some success here in the past. We made a couple of changes and although it was difficult today to make too many consistent laps because of traffic I am happy. I’ll continue to discuss things with my crew chief Marcel after the press conference."
Davide Giugliano - Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team - 3rd
Facebook: Davide-Giugliano Twitter: @DavideGiugliano Instagram: DavideGiugliano34
"I went faster then crashed, but that’s what happens when you’re Davide Giugliano (laughs). We are working to improve things and to be provisionally third at this stage is satisfying. My helmet is a tribute to my hero Kevin Schwantz, it’s for him, for my fans and for all the Americans who support both me and him."
Niccolò Canepa - Althea Racing Ducati - 5th
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"Sector three is the craziest part of the track but I’m crazy too, which I think is the reason why I can be so fast in that section. I love this track, I have always had good times here and I hope to continue this form tomorrow."
Randy de Puniet - Voltcom Crescent Suzuki - 8th
Facebook: randy.depuniet.39 Twitter: RandydePuniet14 Instagram: randydepuniet14
"It’s nice to finally be able to come to the Friday press conference. I don’t really know what has happened since Misano but so far it’s positive. I am 100% fit, my operation to fix my arm pump went well and I am enjoying riding the Suzuki. We need to keep working but I think that we can have a strong end to the season."