Press releases from the organizers and teams after Superpole and race 1 at Laguna Seca:
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Day Two|
Davies secures tense race one victory
Returning Welshman takes win with excellent ride at Laguna, ahead of fellow podium finishers Rea and Sykes
At the GEICO US Round on Saturday afternoon in sunny conditions at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) recorded a superb win as he returned from his Misano injuries in style, whilst Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) were also on the podium.
The leading three could not be caught by the rest of the field as they charged away at the head of the race over the opening laps, with Davies and Rea pulling away from pole man Sykes in the final third of the race. With Rea right on his tail Davies held his nerve over the last few laps to notch a superb Race 1 win as he put his back and thumb injuries from Round 7 firmly behind him.
Davies celebrated the win by holding up a number 69 flag in tribute to the late Nicky Hayden, following the tragic recent passing of the Kentucky Kid.
The Ducati rider’s final winning margin over Rea was 1.2s, with Sykes a further +4.596s behind his Northern Irish colleague in third place.
After 25 exciting laps of the Laguna Seca track Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) crossed the line in fourth, with Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) close behind him in fifth.
Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) completed the top ten.
A special mention must go to Jake Gagne who got a chance to ride for the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, the American scoring a point to give the home fans something to cheer as they also fondly paid their own tributes to former Honda man Hayden.
It was not a great day for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) or Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) as they both crashed out, but they will each get a chance to make amends on Sunday.
Indeed on Sunday at the #USWorldSBK round Race 2 will take place at 2pm local time (GMT -7) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
1st - Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati)
"This is one of my most important victories, its not eay turning up here after the recovery, To come and fight for the victory was a highlight, I wouldn't be here if i couldn't fight. It was a tough race, the surface was slippery and I could see it wasn't easy for the Kawasaki boys. It was also really important for me to dedicate this to Nicky Hayden."
2nd - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
"It was a good race, we tried our best today and there's not too much need to work on, our bike worked well. The grip was good, I need to change the weight of the bike to help with the engine traction, there's some work to do tonight, but congratulations to Chaz. Happy with our job and I'm sure we can make some small improvements tomorrow."
3rd - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)
"We had a good start and a good first half of the race but I suffered with rear traction on entry. I'm disappointed with that, but we managed to salvage a podium. Tomorrow we will need to make a small improvement to work on a couple of areas. Disappointed to give away on some points, but thats racing. From half race distance onwards we didnt have what was needed to take the fight to the other guys."
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team seizes a memorable win in Race 1 at Laguna Seca with Chaz Davies, Marco Melandri is 4th
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team enjoyed a day to remember at Laguna Seca (U.S.A.) thanks to Chaz Davies’ win in Race 1. The Welshman thus brought his season’s tally to four victories, for a total 24 in his WorldSBK career, 20 of which came with Ducati.
Coming back from an injury that forced him to skip Race 2 at Misano three weeks ago, Davies quickly pulled away at the start with the two factory Kawasaki starting from third position. He then took the lead during lap 11, and with three laps to go he gave the final, decisive push.
Marco Melandri, who showed a front-running pace during practice, struggled with grip instead and was forced to play defense to finish in fourth position, collecting important points nonetheless. The Italian will thus start from pole position in Race 2, while his teammate will be ninth on the grid. Both riders raced with a spe
cial livery that mirrors that of the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition – which was previewed to the public at Laguna Seca – with the typical colors of the Italian flag. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action at 10:30 (CET -9) tomorrow for warm-up ahead of Race 2 (scheduled to start at 14:00).
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1st
“It’s been a couple of tough weeks, sitting on the sofa or the physio bed, so to come back and win at Laguna Seca is special. This victory means a lot to me, because I’ve been talking to my crew before coming here and I said ‘if I can race, I’ll be ready to have a go at the victory’. But, it’s easier said than done. The race was tough. Track temperatures were really high and the grip level dropped. I couldn’t trust the front completely, but managed my own race. I was expecting Johnny to attack in the final laps but that moment never came and we sealed one of the most memorable wins of my career. Now we’ll think about a strategy to attack starting from third row tomorrow.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 4th
“Today’s race has been a bit disappointing because we had a really strong pace during practice but we unexpectedly struggled a lot with grip during the race itself, both with the front and rear. At the beginning, I couldn’t push and I was hoping to improve as the race went on but unfortunately it was the other way around. I simply tried to score the best possible result today, and we couldn’t do better than fourth this time. The heat made things more difficult for everyone, but we need to understand why we had a more significant drop. To start from pole tomorrow is relatively important, first of all we need to solve the issues we encountered today but I’m confident we’ll do it.”
Stefano Cecconi, Aruba S.p.A. CEO and Team Principal
“To win with Chaz, who was coming back from an injury and a couple of difficult weeks, is special. This track suits both him and the Panigale R, and today’s race shows it. We managed to preserve our competitiveness after Misano. It’s a pity that Marco struggled during the race after showing some very positive signals during practice, but we’re confident we can race at the top with both of them tomorrow.”
Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Motor Holding CEO
“Today’s win is particularly sweet, not only from a competitive standpoint, but also because it came with the colors of the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition. It’s a bike we designed to celebrate an engine that has made history in WorldSBK and, delivering 209 horsepower and weighing kilograms, it’s the most powerful Ducati ever produced aside from limited editions. We previewed it worldwide here at Laguna Seca, and it’s been emotional to see the colors of the Italian flag take center stage both on track and on the podium.”
Podium Places For KRT Duo At Laguna
Jonathan Rea (KRT) and his team-mate Tom Sykes battled inside the podium places for the entire 25-laps of the first WorldSBK Laguna Seca race of the weekend, with Rea finishing second and Sykes third.
From pole position Sykes led for the first 11 laps of the race, with eventual race winner Chaz Davies and front row qualifier Rea just behind. A double pass, from Davies into the Corkscrew chicane and Rea on the exit, saw Sykes suddenly third. He was to hold onto that position until the end of the race, for his 12th podium of the year.
With seven laps remaining Rea was confident he would be able to challenge for the win but he found he was not able to make up ground to Davies in one key area, and he finished a narrow 1.202 seconds from victory.
This was Jonathan’s 14th podium finish of the year and it gave him 20 points, which extended his championship advantage over his KRT team-mate Sykes to 54.
The race was held in hot and sunny conditions, which took the track temperature to 58°C at the start of the race and ensured it was a particularly intense day of work for all the riders.
Earlier on Saturday morning Sykes had topped the times in Superpole qualifying, giving him to a total of three poles wins this season and 41 pole wins over his entire career in WorldSBK. Tom is now only two Superpoles away from matching the outright record of 43, held by Troy Corser.
With another Laguna Seca WorldSBK race to come on Sunday 9th July, Rea has 316 points and Sykes 262.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I thought that was going to be my race but there was no substitute for Chaz here today. In the mid-part of the race I felt really good. Chaz would make a few tenths on one lap and then I could get right back on him, and I thought that this would be my race. But in the last seven laps I really struggled with corner entry and the only place I lost out was from the last corner to T1. Chaz was taking two to three tenths out of me in the last seven laps in that area and that was too much to make up again. I felt I was holding my own everywhere except that last section. We increased the championship lead again but I always vow that I never start to think about the championship situation until the summer break.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I felt my pace drop towards the end but it was just rear tyre grip reducing on corner entry. I am disappointed about that but there was nothing more I could do. I did my best during the race to adjust the way I entered the corner and the engine brake strategy but there is no real substitute for grip. You hear a lot of people talk about electronics but when there is no grip left there is no grip left. We made a good step compared to yesterday and again tomorrow we will try to be strong. Another Superpole win today, and that just comes when it comes, but for me what was nice was that we improved our race set-up so much today, and we need to do the same again for Sunday.”
Pata Yamaha Battle Extreme Heat & Grip Issues in Race 1 at Laguna Seca
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team had a mixed day under the scorching sun at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday during Race 1 for round eight of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Michael van der Mark fought his way from 13th on the grid to secure an eighth-place finish despite track temperatures of almost 60°C and suffering from a lack of grip. His teammate Alex Lowes qualified in eighth but unfortunately crashed out of the race on lap 7 at Turn 5, although he still retains fifth place in the championship standings.
Van der Mark had to contest SP1 for only the second time this season on Saturday morning, but despite his best efforts, he finished the session in third, missing out on making it through to SP2 for the first time since he joined the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team, by just two-hundredths of a second. Starting from 13th on the grid, he immediately made up a number of places when the lights went out at Laguna Seca. Unfortunately, at Turn 2 Leon Camier ran wide and van der Mark had nowhere to go and was forced wide, dropping back to 12th. The 24-year-old Dutch rider then got his head down, and despite not feeling fully confident with his R1 on corner entry and suffering from a lack of grip, he found a steady rhythm and started to make his way through the pack.
After 11 laps, he had made his way up to tenth place and started to close the gap the three riders ahead of him. By lap 14 he became involved in an excellent four-way battle for seventh and as the laps ticked down he first passed Lorenzo Savadori for ninth, then made an excellent move on Leandro Mercado for 8th with 5 laps remaining. He set his sights on trying to close down the gap to Jordi Torres in seventh but he ran out of laps and crossed the line in eighth to secure eight vital championship points. The new grid rules for 2017 mean that he will start Sunday's Race 2 from the middle of the second row in fifth place, with Van der Mark keen to build on his Race 1 performance. This result sees him remain sixth in the championship standings, now with 123 points, but means he has closed the gap to his teammate Lowes in fifth to just 18 points.
His teammate Lowes experienced a day of ups and downs at Laguna Seca on Saturday after ending Friday in eighth overall and making it directly through to SP2. In the 15-minute qualifying session, the 26-year-old British rider improved on his best time from free practice by almost a second to qualify on the middle of the third row in eighth for the race. When the lights went out Lowes, like many riders, struggled for grip in the extreme heat and found himself in 11th after the first few corners, just ahead of his teammate van der Mark. Determined to make up the lost ground he pushed hard on his R1 and was closing down the group in front when he lost the front at Turn 5 on lap 7 without any prior warning and crashed out of the race. Lowes was luckily unhurt after the fast crash and left bemused as to the cause, but is determined to bounce back in Sunday's Race 2. Due to the grid rules for 2017, Lowes will start Sunday's 25-lap Race 2 from the middle of the fourth row in 11th.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team are back in action on Sunday at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Warm up at 10:30am and Race 2 scheduled to start at 14:00pm local time.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 8th +32.933s
"I had a good start from 13th on the grid but then Camier went wide and I was on the outside so I lost a number of places in Turn 2. After that, I immediately struggled with the turning of the bike and I pushed really hard and found the limit, which was safe but so much slower than this morning. I was not happy with this pace but towards the end, I was closing on the group in front of me and I managed to overtake two of them. I think eighth was the maximum possible today and we need to find something to allow us to be closer to the front for tomorrow. At the moment, the gap to the winner at this track is too much. Tomorrow it will be good to start from the second row with the fast guys and hopefully, we can make a step for Race 2 and be a lot quicker."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - DNF
"Today was very tough. I qualified in eighth and felt like we made a step forward in terms of race pace in SP2 as I improved by almost a second from practice. In the race, I didn't have the feeling I expected with the bike. I pushed as hard as I could, but on lap 7, while trying to close down the guys ahead of me I lost the front at Turn 5. I am not sure what exactly happened, but I am okay. It was frustrating as I had no warning, so we will look at the data tonight to allow us to come out fighting for Race 2 tomorrow."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"Apart from the podium finishers who had something completely different in terms of performance to the rest of the field, it looked like a really tough race out there for everybody in extreme heat and on a very greasy track. Michael did well from his grid position to stay patient and keep working hard to push his way up to eighth position. From where we were yesterday and after qualifying we really couldn't expect more. We now have the data from today to work on, understand what we can to do improve the front grip of the bike, which was the biggest restriction over race distance, and see if we can improve tomorrow. The second-row start will help as it is a tough place to pass here, so we will see what Michael can achieve tomorrow. We are desperately disappointed for Alex who has worked hard this weekend in every session and given the best possible feedback, as he always does. The team made a reasonably big step in the settings for the race in the search for more performance and it's possible that Alex hadn't had time to really understand the chassis balance and the grip available. Unfortunately, he lost the front on the brakes into Turn 5. This makes the grid position for Alex really tough tomorrow but he always bounces back from adversity well and we will approach tomorrow with a positive mindset and see what we can achieve."
Challenging start for Milwaukee Aprilia in Race 1 at Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 08 / 07 / 2017
Milwaukee Aprilia managed to recover 6 points from a disappointing Race 1 at Laguna Seca, with a 10th place finish for Lorenzo Savadori and a retirement for Eugene Laverty.
The Superpole sessions showed promise for the team, Lorenzo producing a strong display to go quickest in Superpole 1 session and join Eugene in the pole position shootout. Eugene, having run strongly in the Free Practice sessions, ended Superpole 2 P5 on the grid, his best qualifying result of the year. Lorenzo eventually finished P10, after a mistake cost him time on his quickest lap.
Eugene made a strong start in the race, maintaining his 5th position behind the frontrunners. However an issue with his front tyre caused him to lose grip and feeling, and eventually resulted in him crashing at Turn 3 before the half-way mark.
Lorenzo made a steady getaway, holding his own in the midfield and scrapping with the likes of Torres and Camier. With his own front grip issues, he was able to consolidate his place in 10th and take home 6 points for the team.
The team are still confident of a good showing in Race 2 on Sunday after the pace they have shown so far, and will give their full efforts tonight to ensure a deserved strong result tomorrow.
The action continues at #USWorldSBK with Race 2 at 14:00 PDT on Sunday 9th July
Keep up to date with the Milwaukee Aprilia team on their website, and Facebook, Twitter & Instagram channels
Lorenzo Savadori #32
Grid - P10 Race - P10, 6 points
“The Superpole sessions were not so bad today, especially compared to Free Practice yesterday. I made a good lap time in SP1 to go quickest, but in SP2 I made a mistake at the last corner and lost a quick lap time.
It wasn't easy to start P10 for the race. I tried to push at the beginning to make positions, but I had to be careful not to push too hard and damage the rear tyre. I found a good rhythm, but the front grip was getting lower and lower and I was riding right at the limit. It was really difficult to overtake because of this, but I was able to maintain position and take P10.
We need to stay positive because we know there is good speed to find. We were much quicker today that yesterday, and I will work hard with the guys tonight to make improvements for Race 2. We know a good direction to go in and it is important that we move forward.”
Eugene Laverty #50
Grid - P5 Race - Retired
“All weekend we have been in the top 5 and it was really nice to consolidate that in Superpole today with our best result in P5. Our pace was what we hoped and expected, at the tail-end of the top four as they have been all year.
Unfortunately in the race, I got a good start but the front bikes were just running away. I had really bad feeling in the front and so little grip, and I was just trying to hold on before I dropped it just under half distance. It was very frustrating as the bike has felt great all weekend and then suddenly bad in the race. Pirelli are looking into it, because the tyre didn't look normal and may have been defective.
I don't want to tempt fate too much ahead of Race 2 because we should have run well today. Hopefully we can learn what caused the crash today; if it was a tyre issue then we know the bike is in a good position. The rear tyre was holding up well which it hasn't previously, so there are good points to take from today."
Mick Shanley, Team Manager
“The outcome from the race wasn't representative of what we've achieved this weekend. Eugene has been consistently strong in Free Practice and he was fast in Superpole. Lorenzo struggled at first in practice but found speed today.
Unfortunately it seems we had a front tyre issue which didn't allow Eugene to push like he has the rest of the weekend, and ultimately ended up with him crashing, and that is something we need to investigate with Pirelli.
Lorenzo made a definite step forward today from yesterday. Superpole was a good performance from him on the race tyre, and we just need to find a little more pace and stability for him to push with. Overall it was a frustrating day after the promise shown, but we know we have speed and we'll see what we can achieve tomorrow."
Torres seventh in race 1 at Laguna Seca
Monterey (USA), Saturday 8 July 2017
On track today at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Althea BMW Racing team closed the first Superbike race of the weekend in seventh place with Jordi Torres and thirteenth with Raffaele De Rosa.
Superpole 1: during the morning, De Rosa took to the track for the first phase of the Superpole. He concluded the brief session fourth, with a best time of 1’24.311 that translated into a fifth-row place on the race grid.
Superpole 2: Torres completed a couple of laps on the race tyre before putting in the qualifying solution. Thanks to a fastest lap completed in 1’23.789, Jordi qualified eleventh for today’s race.
SBK – Race 1: Jordi made up a position early on to place tenth. Battling with Savadori, he passed him on lap six to move into ninth position. Continuing to improve, the Spaniard was lying seventh by mid-race, a position he was able to maintain to the finish line.
Raffaele, 15th through the first turns, made progress in the early stages, positioning twelfth by lap six. Earning himself another position towards the mid-race point, the Italian unfortunately lost ground through the final lap, closing today’s race in thirteenth place.
“The race didn’t go too badly considering the practice and Superpole before it. We changed direction before the Superpole and improved things a little but not enough, so we made more changes to the bike before the race. The bike worked better than before and I was more confident but there were still issues, like a lot of sliding at the rear for example. For tomorrow we’d like to be quicker entering the turns and try to limit the rear sliding. We’ll focus on the front of the bike in the hope we can take a step forward in race 2."
Raffaele De Rosa
"We started quite far back and there was contact between me and another rider at the first turn which caused me to lose ground. I tried to make up some positions and my pace wasn’t bad up until the mid-race point. From there on in though, there was a drop in tyre performance and I was struggling to manage the sliding, particularly in braking. We need to work on this and will make changes tomorrow morning, probably changing the tyre too in order to do better in race two.”
Bradl takes 11th in race one as Gagne scores first WorldSBK point at Laguna
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, United States
The Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team has completed the opening race of the US Round of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship, with Stefan Bradl able to clinch 11th place in the final moments of the 25-lap encounter. His team mate for the round Jake Gagne scored his first World Championship point at his first attempt by crossing the finish line in fifteenth position.
After a steady start from row six, Bradl started getting up to speed and, as the laps went by, he was able to make up some places in the five-way battle for eleventh place. The 27-year-old could keep a consistent pace throughout the whole race, which helped him getting past Ramos on the final lap for 11th place.
Jake Gagne had a solid maiden WorldSBK race performance today, which allowed the young American to enter the World Superbike standings with one point under his belt. Gagne showed a solid and consistent pace as he joined the battle for 11th position after some encouraging overtaking manoeuvres, while also shadowing at times his much-more experienced team mate.
Both Stefan and Jake’s starting position for race two will not change, meaning that they will line up on the grid for race two alongside each other on the 17th and 18th spots, respectively.
Stefan Bradl 6
Overall it wasn’t a bad race. I had a bad start and from then towards mid-race I struggled in using the potential of the rear tyre so it was hard to stay with the guys in front of me. I managed to stay calm, though, and to save the tyre a little bit more, so I had a bit more rubber to play with in the second half of the race. I bridged the gap with the group ahead and was able to make some decent passes, even on the last lap when I overtook Ramos. This is definitely a positive, although when you make some important changes throughout the weekend it is sometimes hard to get the right feel for the bike. But in any case, the second part of the race was positive and I hope we can build on it and improve our result in race two.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It was a good race and I’m really happy. The biggest thing is that we made all 25 laps and learnt a lot about the bike’s behaviour over the race distance and from the riders I was riding with. It’s a dream come true to finish my first World Superbike race in the points, so I can say it’s been a good day. It’s something to build on for tomorrow: we will try to make some improvements, I have some really great guys to work with so I will try to be a little faster tomorrow.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Obviously our qualifying position has had quite an impact in race one. Stefan wasn’t able to make the most of fresh tyres in the first part so that’s why he lost a lot of ground early on. Once the tyres started to wear off a little, however, he picked up a good rhythm, managed to make some passes and put together quite a decent race overall. That was a positive note for us. There is clearly still a lot to improve, so first thing tomorrow morning will be to help him find the right feeling with the bike on new tyres. Jake was in the same group as Stefan and even managed to stay with him for a part of the race; he did a very good race, especially for being his first in the championship. He pushed the front tyre a bit too much – perfectly understandable – so he ended up missing some grip in the second half.
Mercado, ninth classified at Laguna Seca Race 1
Laguna Seca, July 8th 2017 - Leandro Mercado has accomplished an important 9th position in race 1 at the Usa Round held at Laguna Seca. The Argentinean rider, who took the start from the 6th position of the starting grid, did push up to the limit since the very beginning, has been able to fight whit the riders ahead of him until the very end. Mercado has managed to end race 1 in 9th position ahead of Savadori’s official Aprilia gaining important points for the standing. The ninth palace confirms the awesome work done together with the technical staff during Fp3 on Saturday morning.
LEANDRO MERCADO #36 – WSBK RIDER- 9° IN Race1. “ Today has Been a Good day because we have taken a significant step forward. We have run an incredible qualifying but the race has been really hard for me. The last ten laps were particularly stressing because we were missing a lot of grip at the rear and it was really hard to keep the pace. Now we have to concentrate on this problem to be able to be on track during the last part of the race. Finally I am happy because we have ended up a very difficult race, and this is important to get experience. We hope that tomorrow we can make further progress. I wish to thank all of the team for the hard work.”