Press releases from the first day of practice at Laguna Seca:
#USWorldSBK Day 1: Consistent Rea ends day one on top
Reigning world champion fastest in all three of Friday's sessions despite crash
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was unstoppable today
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) topped the timesheets in each session at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as his consistent pace put him in control, despite a crash in the middle of free practice three halting his performance in the afternoon. With three action packed sessions out on track, fans are prepared for a stunning day two in California.
There was a sense of familiarity in FP3, as Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) accompanied Rea in the top three, as they did in FP2. The Italian was the only one of the trio to improve his best lap time, however it was not enough to trouble Rea’s mark.
A trend in recent final Friday practice sessions has seen Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) creep up the timesheets as the day goes by. Today was no different as the Italian, who was fourteenth in FP1, smashed his earlier times with the fourth fastest lap of the day. This also placed him above his teammate Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) for the first time on Friday, with the Irish rider in fifth position.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) secured the sixth fastest time of the combined results, jumping ahead of Brno race two winner Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), in seventh.
Eighth went to Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), who found his way into tomorrow’s Superpole 2 in the final session, as did the Spanish duo of Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team), with both men back up to pace in ninth and tenth respectively, after struggling in the past two rounds.
The shock absence from the top 10 at the end of Friday was Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who couldn’t improve his best FP1 lap throughout the rest of the day, and will have to start from Saturday’s Superpole 1. The Dutchman ended up with the eleventh fastest time of Friday.
As for the home riders, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) took 14th on Friday, with wildcard Josh Herrin (Attack Performance Two Wheel Legal Yamaha) in 15th, and PJ Jacobsen (TripleM Honda World Superbike Team) in 18th.
The GEICO US Round has gotten off to a wild start! And things will heat up even further tomorrow with Superpole 1, live from Laguna Seca starting at 11:00 local time (18:00 GMT).
#USWorldSBK at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca: Friday
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1:23:104
2. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) +0.354
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.398
KRT Riders Open Well At Laguna
The first day of WorldSBK qualifying at Laguna Seca ended in rewarding fashion for KRT Riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes, as they finished the three Friday practice sessions first and third in the timesheets, easing their way directly into Superpole 2 on Saturday.
At the popular and fan-friendly Laguna Seca circuit in the USA KRT’s championship challengers Rea and Sykes took part in the now established three 40-minute Friday practice sessions, with Rea fastest despite a late fall and Sykes third quickest in a field of 20 riders.
Both KRT riders set their best Friday times in FP2, with Rea sliding off while pushing the boundaries of his set-up after completing 11-laps in FP3.
Sykes used FP3 to try out some alternative settings in readiness for Superpole and race one on Saturday, while still setting fast lap times to the very end.
With windy conditions at times blowing sand onto the 3.610km long track surface this afternoon, Laguna proved as much of a satisfying challenge as ever, but a challenge that both KRT Riders rose to meet with a 1-3 finish to free practice.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 13th after the three sessions on the opening day but only 1.073 seconds from Rea on his first visit to Laguna Seca.
Argentinean Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 16th today, Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) placed 17th and Yonny Hernandez (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) 20th.
A short FP4 session and then Superpole 1 and 2 will take place on Saturday morning, before race one starts at 14.00, local time in California.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “From the first session we have been fast but we have been changing the bike to make it better and better. Now our consistency and speed are good. This is a track that has struggled with grip but it seems our base set-up is finding grip. It is just a shame to go to sleep tonight on a crash but my rhythm has been stronger than everyone today so I feel like we have some margin to just come back now and find the limit. I had a lot of feedback from the bike and I was finding the limit really – and I found it. I arrived a little bit faster than my fastest lap. I was in a run where I was very consistent and fast even at the end, so I was just pushing the boundaries.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “We had a fairly good set-up in FP2, and in FP3 we just experimented in a couple of directions, with a few different little variables. I am happy enough, really. We did not improve our lap time in FP3 but to be honest the track was not in great condition. In the windy conditions this afternoon I followed a couple of guys exiting the pits and you could see, slightly off line, there was a lot of sand. I am happy with what we have done and tomorrow we will try to put it all together. In the morning session tomorrow we have a couple things to try and hopefully we can give them a little whirl.”
Solid start for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team at Laguna Seca: Melandri 2nd and Davies 6th in Friday's free-practice
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team enjoyed a positive start to the eighth round of the WorldSBK Championship at Laguna Seca (United States), finishing Friday's free-practice sessions with Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies in second and sixth position respectively.
Melandri started strong off the blocks and consistently stayed within the top positions, finishing with a personal best of 1:23.458, only 0.354 seconds off the top, and finding also good feedback in terms of pace. Davies made constant progress, taking circa four tenths of a second off his lap times in between sessions to finish with a personal best of 1:23.635 and a very similar pace compared with his teammate's.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will be back on track Saturday, June 23rd, at 09:00 local time (CET -9) for the last free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, which is scheduled to start at 14:00 (23:00 CET).
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 1:23.458 (2nd)
"All in all it was a good day for me and the team. We just struggled a bit while trying different tire options, and I had a little slide going into the Corkscrew that caused me to crash without consequences, but in FP3 we found the feeling once again. At the moment, Rea is still a bit faster than us but our pace is quite good to at least fight for the podium. Anyway, we will try to further improve in FP4 and we'll need to be fast in Superpole because it's not easy to pass, but the race is always a different story altogether."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:23.635 (6th)
"In the end, we had a positive first day. I was struggling a bit in the beginning, but then we made some changes and we progressively got closer to the mark. I feel like we've made good progress. Unfortunately we had to sit out the last ten minutes of FP3 due to a technical issue. We could have probably made another step forward, but overall I'm pretty happy with the direction we're going in. The first priority is to be fast in Superpole then we'll see how it goes, hopefully we can just keep making strides."
Pata Yamaha Push Hard on Friday at Laguna Seca
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team kicked off Round 8 of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship on Friday at Laguna Seca. Full of confidence following on from his victory in Race 2 at Brno, Alex Lowes set a 1:23.687 to end the day in seventh on the combined timesheets, 0.583s off the fastest rider, to automatically make it through to SP2 on Saturday. His teammate Michael van der Mark made a solid start, ending Friday in 11th overall with a 1:24.106 and he will battle it out in SP1.
Near perfect conditions greeted the Pata Yamaha team on Friday at Laguna Seca with the California sun sending track temperatures rising to 43°C as they looked to continue the form that has seen them win three of the last four WorldSBK races, despite the Laguna track traditionally not having been the happiest hunting ground for the R1 in the past.
Lowes got off to a strong start in the morning's FP1, showing the confidence that comes with having secured his maiden WorldSBK victory at the last round in the Czech Republic, the 27-year-old British rider ending the session in fifth after setting a 1:23.979. As the temperature rose, so did Lowes' pace, and he improved to a 1:23.837 in FP2 to move up to fourth overall. In the afternoon's FP3 session, he once again made another step, setting a 1:23.687 as he focused on finding a good rhythm for the race. This saw Lowes end Friday in seventh overall and make it through automatically to SP2, happy with the work completed and confident there is more to come on Saturday.
Van der Mark arrived in the USA on the back of an incredible run of results that has seen him record two victories, a second-place, and a fourth-place finish in the last four races. Building his rhythm in the usual methodical manner in the morning session, the 25-year-old Dutch rider ended FP1 in seventh with a 1:24.106. Focusing on race pace in FP2, he showed good consistency although he did not improve his time from the morning, ending the session in tenth overall. In FP3, he tried a variety of different setups but couldn't quite find the perfect feeling with his Pata Yamaha R1, ending the day in 11th on the combined timesheets with his time set during FP1. Disappointed at missing out on automatic qualification to Saturday's SP2, Van der Mark is determined to make use of the extra track time he will get during SP1 to allow him to make a step before Race 1.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action on Saturday at 9:00 am local time (GMT-7) for FP4, with qualifying starting at 11:00 and the 25-lap Race 1 at 2:00 pm.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th - 1:23.687
"It was a good Friday. We got through a lot of work. Obviously, you always want to be a bit quicker, you want the feeling to be a bit better but we managed to highlight a couple of the key areas we want to improve so we will take a look tonight and try and make some steps for FP4 in the morning. I feel really good, I am really enjoying riding the bike, I am just a little bit off where I want to be percentage wise to allow me to be comfortable, especially tipping the bike into the faster corners. If we can work on that, I think we can have a really strong race. It was a good day and I am looking forward to tomorrow!"
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 11th - 1:24.106
"We struggled a bit today. This morning did not feel too bad, we had a small problem with the stability of the bike and also tried out some different gearing solutions. For FP2, we made some changes and although I didn't improve my pace, I still managed to do quite a good long run. The feeling wasn't really what I need, so for FP3 we changed a lot again, but we didn't find a solution. We have lots of data to study overnight so hopefully, we can find something that will allow us to make a step tomorrow."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"We anticipated that Laguna Seca was going to bring us some challenges after the recent successes at Donington Park and Brno and sure enough, this very technical and difficult circuit created some issues for both riders and the crew today. Alex has looked very neat and tidy all day, riding very accurately and producing fast, consistent times. We are still missing a few tenths but for him, the R1 is working better than it ever has at Laguna and we are confident that further steps can be taken tomorrow. Michael has had a tough day and has not been able to improve on his FP1 performance which is quite unusual. There are always a number of factors involved to consider. The crew and Michael himself will be studying the data hard to find the best forward in terms of bike setting and how also he can improve. It is always great to be in California racing at Laguna Seca and as a team, we are looking forward to the first race tomorrow!"
Camier eighth, Gagne fourteenth in Friday practice at Laguna Seca
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, United States
Under clear Californian skies, Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team riders Leon Camier and Jake Gagne emerged with the eighth and fourteenth quickest overall times in an extremely competitive opening day at the US round of the WorldSBK championship.
As the chequered flag was waved for the day’s final session, Free Practice 3, just one second separated the top eleven riders around the eleven turns of the tight Laguna Seca circuit.
After a steady start to the day, both Camier and Gagne found gains in the last session with their CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines, however their final practice positions means the riders will take different paths in qualifying tomorrow.
A setting change before Camier’s final stint in FP3 helped him achieve a personal best lap time of 1’23.769 which saw him clinch P8 on combined times and qualify directly for Superpole 2 tomorrow.
Meanwhile hometown hero Gagne also found some extra pace at the end of the day and his best time of 1’24.221 placed him P14 – barely two-tenths of a second off the top ten – meaning he will have to qualify through Superpole 1.
The next session is Free Practice 4 tomorrow at 0900 local time (GMT -7) tomorrow, with Race 1 scheduled to commence at 1400 local time.
Leon Camier 2
At the start of the day we struggled in the first couple of sessions as we wanted to try some different settings but none of them worked that well, however things improved to end the day where we unlocked some performance. In FP3 we found a direction which works better and we need to stay on that path for tomorrow and try find more rear grip and consistency with the rear tyre, so that our pace doesn't drop off after a few laps. Me and my crew will go over things tonight and and hopefully in FP4 we can find another improvement ahead of the race.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It was nice to be back home at Laguna Seca, riding a track where I've done a lot of laps which makes Friday practice a lot easier. I started off strong in my first stint in FP1 and got up to a good pace straight away, we then tried a couple of settings which didn't quite work and I also rode a bit too aggressively which made things harder for myself. In FP3 we went back to our base setting for this track which was the most comfortable for me and managed to improve my times which was a good way to end the day. My goal tomorrow is to stay smooth and relaxed, hit all my markers and have a strong Superpole 1 and do my best to try and get into Superpole 2. It's important here at Laguna Seca to get a good grid position, so i'll focus on doing well in qualifying.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Things started steady for us but in the end we ended strongly so hopefully we can carry that momentum in to tomorrow. In FP3 we could see Leon was quite close to top-five pace on a single lap, however we need to do some work to find him better performance when the tyre performance starts to drop, so that is something we'll work on ahead of the race. Jake started strongly right at the start of FP1, but then perhaps the pressure of riding at home made him push a bit too hard, but he got it back together for FP3 and finished strongly. There's definitely room to improve tomorrow.
Gulf Althea BMW gets down to work at Laguna Seca
Monterey (USA), Friday 22 June 2018
The Gulf Althea BMW Racing team and rider Loris Baz are in the United States for round eight of the Superbike World Championship. On track at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the Frenchman took part in the day’s three timed practice sessions.
Out on track this morning in dry conditions for the first timed practice, Baz positioned fifteenth at the session’s end, having recorded a fastest lap of 1’25.040. The rider was starting to make progress during the second session but a crash 20 minutes from the end caused him to lose precious time. Despite this, he was able to get back out for the final minutes and a best lap of 1’24.175 saw him climb to eleventh place in the standings. In the afternoon, in the third and final practice, the Gulf Althea BMW riderv continued the set-up work on board his BMW but was unable to improve on his previous time.
Loris therefore closed the day in twelfth position overall and will take part in tomorrow’s Superpole 1 based on today’s results.
“Not an easy day. First I had to get used to the track but that didn’t take long. The problem is the same thing we’ve had at other tracks, a lack of grip at the rear. We’ve been working on the front of the bike and then in FP3 we found a few solutions that can help us to improve the tyre life. I wasn’t able to reach Superpole2 unfortunately but we have a few ideas to try tomorrow; we are trying to remain positive and hope for improvement tomorrow.”