2018 Laguna Seca World Superbike Race One Results: Attrition At The Back

World Superbike race one at Laguna Seca took place on a sunny day in California, with a bunch of tin whistlers leading an anthem singer in typical American style. The anti-clockwise track is one of the shorter ones on the calendar and it lacks long straights, limiting the top speed to under 260km/h. 

As the lights went out, Chaz Davies led from pole position, with Jonathan Rea passing Tom Sykes for second place before the first turn with Lorenzo Savadori making the most of his good qualifying holding off Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes to take fourth place. Throughout the first lap, Rea was looking for a way past Davies the whole lap and at the end, he made a move at turn eleven, the tricky last turn that catches so many riders out. Davies kept a faster line out of the last turn and crested the slight kink that makes up turn one ahead of the Kawasaki. 

Throughout the second lap, Rea carried on looking for a way past Davies but the Ducati man held him off, setting the fastest lap in the process. Alex Lowes got past Lorenzo Savadori who then went on to demonstrate how tricky turn eleven is by dumping his bike there. Savadori rejoined in last place. A lap later, Loris Baz copied him, crashing out at turn eleven and rejoining in last place. 

Five laps in, Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea had a second and a half gap from Tom Sykes and the same again back to Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty, but as the gap from Rea to Sykes increased, the gap from Sykes to Lowes decreased and on lap seven, Lowes was just eight tenths off Sykes. 

At the turn eight chicane, Chaz Davies carried a touch too much speed into the corkscrew and went wide at the left-handed top corner, giving Jonathan Rea, bouncing his rear under braking, a chance to nip underneath him and ride next to him at the right-handed bottom half of the corkscrew and hold the inside line for the lead into turn nine. 

Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies maintained their charge at the front nearly three seconds ahead of the three-way battle for third, with Alex Lowes and Eugene Laverty having caught Tom Sykes, and heading into the corkscrew, Lowes took third place off Sykes cleanly. A few laps later, Leandro Mercado passed PJ Jacobsen at turn five, but not so cleanly, nudging the American out of his home race only to crash at the corkscrew a few turns later and make any recriminations moot.

At the halfway mark, Jonathan Rea finally broke free of Chaz Davies while Eugene Laverty took fourth place off Tom Sykes and a few laps later had himself a gap while Sykes was joined by Xavi Fores who was looking for someone to make his lonely race interesting. Fores's race then got more interesting as catching the hard-to-pass Sykes gave Marco Melandri a chance to latch onto the back of the Barni Ducati with his proper Aruba.it Ducati. Fores made a pass stick at the favourite passing point that astern five and Melandri did the same a lap later as Sykes struggled to remain within a second a lap of the riders around him. 

Five laps from the end, with Jonathan Rea only a second clear of Chaz Davies, Marco Melandri, having followed Xavi Fores for a few laps, took fifth place at turn five from where he could see a two second gap from fourth-placed Eugene Laverty.

On lap twenty one, Toprak Razgatlioglu, running within the points at his first visit to Laguna Seca, bottomed out his suspension at the flick from left to right in the corkscrew and applied the throttle a hair too soon. The rear wheel lost adhesion and started to slide as the bike turned left, but as the suspension got itself back under control, the rear gripped and flipped the Turkish rider off in a classic highside, with the Puccetti Kawasaki flipping over and over, clipping its rear wheel on landing and completely removing the rear tyre from the wheel. Razgatlioglu landed cleanly on his back but was taken to the medical centre for a checkup. 

As the last laps ticked off, the top six riders realised the gaps weren't worth trying to close and all maintained their places and Jonathan Rea crossed the line nearly three seconds clear of Chaz Davies with Alex Lowes almost ten seconds further behind in third. 

With his third victory at Laguna Seca, Jonathan Rea increases his championship lead over Chaz Davies by five more points to a lead of seventy points. Alex Lowes in third place took fifth place in the championship from Marco Melandri whose fifth place meant he conceded five points to Lowes. Eugene Laverty, who felt that for the first time this year he was capable of a podium, finished in fourth place. Xavi Fores in sixth place was once again the leading independent rider while Tom Sykes in seventh place was caught but to passed by Michael van der Mark which meant the Yamaha rider lost only one point from fourth-placed Sykes, with sixteen points separating the pair. 


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