Another warm day in California and the last race before the summer break opened again with the American national anthem, this time performed on a trumpet.
A few notes on the first World Superbike race at Laguna Seca:
Press releases from the organizers and teams after Superpole and race 1 at Laguna Seca:
WorldSBK standings after the first race at Laguna Seca:
The weather in California was hot and sunny as the riders listened to the American national anthem before the twenty-five lap race. The Ducatis of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri were coloured in the new “Final Edition” Panigale colours.
Laguna Seca is a shorter track than most on the calendar, giving riders the opportunity to get an extra lap or two per Superpole session.
In the morning's untimed session, Jonathan Rea was quickest ahead of Chaz Davies. Tom Sykes finally beat Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty, ending a session in the top three for the first time this weekend.
Press releases from the teams after the first day of practice at Laguna Seca:
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Day One
Davies shows speed on return to action
Ducati rider dominates to end day one on top
Chaz Davies ends the day quickest in spite of being unable to improve on his morning's time. He's joined at the top by Jonathan Rea who, after the second red flag was lifted with just over three minutes left, put in the session's quickest time, just over a hundredth of a second off Davies's best lap. Marco Melandri was third quickest ahead of Eugene Laverty. American wildcard Jake Gagne, on the Red Bull Honda Fireblade, finished seventeenth quickest.
Leandro Mercado and Raffaele De Rosa are the two quickest men going into Superpole one.
Chaz Davies was ruled fit enough to compete this weekend and he celebrated by setting the fastest time of the session, over two-thirds of a second quicker than Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri.
Of the nine MotoGP races held so far, the teams and riders were clear about the two with the worst levels of grip. At both Jerez and Barcelona, the riders and teams complained bitterly about the lack of grip at the circuit. At Barcelona, those complaints also encompassed excessive tire wear caused by the old asphalt, which extensive use by cars had rendered extremely abrasive to motorcycle tires.
The MotoGP Safety Commission, the informal body in which riders talk to Dorna and the FIM about safety issues, made it very clear: unless the two Spanish tracks were resurfaced, it would not be possible to return there for 2018. In the case of Barcelona, there was also the question of the new chicane which replaced Turn 12, the corner where Luis Salom tragically lost his life in 2016.
It now looks like both circuits will make a reappearance on the MotoGP calendar in 2018 and beyond. Both Jerez and Barcelona are to be resurfaced ahead of next year, which should mean they will be ready to host MotoGP in the coming season.
Press release previews from the teams and a fan guide from the organizers ahead of this week's WorldSBK round at Laguna Seca:
Laguna Seca Preview - California Dreaming
WorldSBK returns to Laguna Seca but who will take the advantage into the summer?
Today marks the second anniversary of Kenny Noyes' crash at the Motorland Aragon circuit for the Spanish CEV Superbike championship. The crash left him in a coma, but through extraordinary perseverance and the support of his family, he has made a remarkable recovery.
I knew Kenny fairly well, both directly from his time racing in the Moto2 championship, and indirectly through his father, Dennis, who has been immeasurably kind and helpful to me throughout my own career as a journalist. I was shocked and saddened when I heard of his accident, but I have been left with unbounded admiration for Kenny for the energy and determination he has put into his recovery.
To mark two years since Kenny's crash, his press office issued the following interview with the former CEV Superbike champion. It is an insightful and honest discussion of the crash, the recovery, the importance of motorcycle racing in his life, but above all, the importance of his family and friends. Kenny has set up a GoFundMe account to help continue his rehabilitation process. I hope you will consider making a contribution.
Interview with the 2014 FIM CEV Spanish-International Superbike Champion on the second anniversary of his life-threatening accident.
On the wall of his office Kenny keeps the poster that his team, PL Racing, sent to him, signed by all team members, after his accident. Across it can be read phrases like “This will be a great comeback,” and “good guys always win.” They are more like predictions than encouraging messages because they had seen Kenny come from far behind to win the title on the last day of the season the year before. Those predictions are slowly coming to pass. Now, two years after the fall that saw him battling for his life for seventy-two critical hours and produced traumatic brain injury, Kenny is making the comeback that his team foresaw. He’s his old self again, complaining as he always did, whenever the temperature drops below 80 degrees, telling stories and working hard so that he can go back to work.
Question: It’s been two years now since you went out for the morning Warm Up on your Kawasaki in Motorland Aragon. What do you remember from that day?
The much-hyped Márquez/Viñales title fight is turning out to be the weirdest in GP history. Here’s why…
Remember all that preseason hype? This was going to be the year of a new duel, a new rivalry to follow Marc Márquez versus Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi versus Casey Stoner.
Márquez and Maverick Viñales were the new duellists, battling for the 2017 MotoGP title from start to finish.
There are not many circuits in the world like the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The Californian circuit offers a unique challenge in WorldSBK.
Led Zeppelin sang about Going to California and said, “I'll meet you up there where the path runs high. Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.” Unfortunately for the riders in WorldSBK when you stand at the top of the mountain at Laguna Seca the challenge facing riders who dream of a win truly is as hard as it seems. This highly technical race track demands precision, consistency, imagination and above all else experience.
Coming across the line riders will take a variety of lines and gears that are defined by their bike setup. In WorldSBK gear ratios are fixed for the season and as a result we see a lot of variety at Laguna Seca. Some riders will be forced to use six gears, whereas others will use only five around the 3.6km track. With the track snaking it's way throughout the Monterey hills around a lake, it offers a little bit of everything.