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.
Laguna Seca, USA
Superpole One was contested by ten riders, including wildcard Josh Herrin. Michael van der Mark and Loris Baz were the favourites for promotion going into the session, having qualified eleventh and twelfth quickest respectively.
Press releases from the first day of practice at Laguna Seca:
Jonathan Rea ended the session and the day quickest, in spite of an early crash in this last session. Marco Melandri improved on his earlier time to go second quickest, qualifying for Superpole two ahead of Tom Sykes.
Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes topped the sheets, ahead of four different machines, with Ducati, Yamaha, MV Agusta and Aprilia all featuring in the top six.
Jonathan Rea set the morning's quickest time ahead of Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty. Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies joined the top three under 1'24 and the top eight riders were all within a second of Rea's time.
Press releases from the organizers and teams ahead of this weekend's World Superbike races at Laguna Seca:
Land of the free and home of the brave: will you be there?
The US Round of WorldSBK sees the paddock decamp to the West Coast and for the Superbike riders this is certainly a favorite round of the campaign. The challenging Laguna Seca circuit is unique and rightfully regarded as one of the most action packed and thrilling on the calendar. The lap might be short but there's no rest for the wicked in the Northern California hills.
The lap begins with one of the most difficult corners of the entire season. While the Corkscrew gets the attention, it's Turn 1 over a blind crest that grabs the attention of riders. There's a variety of lines on offer depending on bike setup with gearing a key concern. In WorldSBK gear ratios are fixed for the season and with the deduction in revs for 2018 this will be even more crucial. We see a lot of variety at Laguna Seca with regards to gear patterns, and this will be even more exaggerated this season.
Laguna Seca is one of the world's most famous race tracks and it could play host to a memorable race this weekend. Yamaha are on a roll, Kawasaki are in the midst of what could become a difficult break-up, and Ducati are looking to recapture lost form at a venue of past glories.
Can Yamaha keep it up?
Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes have combined to win three of the last four WorldSBK races but few circuits have uncovered the R1's shortcomings in recent years like Laguna Seca. A best result of fifth since 2016 has seen the US become a round to forget in the past. However" the progress made this year could change their fortunes and see the PATA squad head to California like the prospectors of 200 years ago. There's glory in the hills of Northern California and their confidence could see Yamaha spring a surprise again.
The FIM today released the provisional 2018 WorldSBK version. Just as last year, the schedule contains thirteen rounds, spread out from February to late October. Two circuits visited in 2017 are out, Jerez and the Lausitzring, while Brno makes a return to the WorldSBK schedule, and a brand new circuit in the west of Argentina, near the border with Chile.
The schedule starts as ever at Phillip Island in Australia on 25th February, with the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes competing. As is traditional, the race is preceded a couple of days earlier by a two-day official test. The start of the series is once again rather fragmented, however, as WorldSBK fans will have to wait four weeks for the second round of the series at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand.