2014 Laguna Seca World Superbike Post-Qualifying Press Releases

Press releases from the series organizer and World Superbike teams after Saturday's qualfying at Laguna Seca:

Sykes raises the bar with pole position and new best lap

Laguna Seca (California, USA), Saturday 12 July 2014 - The Tissot-Superpole ahead of tomorrow’s two WSBK races has been won by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) after a blistering lap in hot and sunny weather at the Laguna Seca circuit in California. The current reigning champion and points leader of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship clocked in 1’21.811s, new outright best lap of the circuit, to claim the 23rd WSBK pole position of his career, his third in a row after the ones scored at Misano and Portimao.

Tom Sykes: “It was a really exciting Superpole. I knew that we would be struggling all weekend because many of our competitors are very strong here but you know, slowly but surely, we got the Ninja working much better and I’m a lot more confident for tomorrow. We put the Pirelli qualifying tyre in and I had a little stab at it, I also had a small moment down the Corkscrew but we put a great lap time together and I’m happy. The boys worked hard and it’s going be close tomorrow, I think there’s a number of people with great race pace so I look forward to it.”

In the final 15 minute, top 12 grid deciding session, the expectant American fans were not left disappointed after a series of fast laps kept them guessing as to who would emerge as the front row qualifiers. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) set the initial benchmark of 1.23.752s before being eclipsed by his team mate Marco Melandri. The Ducati pairing of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies split the Aprilia duo before Guintoli reclaimed the top spot with 9 minutes to go.

At the flag it was reigning champion Sykes who lived up to his title of Mr Superpole, edging. Sylvain Guintoli and Chaz Davies by half a second. The top-3 riders were presented with the Tissot-Superpole Award by former WSBK champion Doug Polen.

Sylvain Guintoli: “Second position is not so bad. I made a fast lap, but my record lap from last year has been destroyed. Anyway, the first row is the most important thing because at this track it’s important to start well. I’m happy about that, we did our homework. I think they’re going to be two tough races, so I hope we can all enjoy them.”

Davide Giugliano, Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) grabbed 4th, 5th and 6th places on the grid respectively. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) crashed unhurt and will start 10th tomorrow.

The accolade of being the best classified EVO rider at the US round went to Niccolò Canepa (Althea Racing Team Ducati) in 12th position overall, the only EVO rider to make it through to the final shootout.

Christian Iddon (Team Bimota Alstare - EVO) fell in Superpole 1, with the British rider unhurt and able to race tomorrow.

Times: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 1'21.811 average 158.854 kph; 2. Guintoli (Aprilia) 1'22.339; 3. Davies (Ducati) 1'22.384; 4. Giugliano (Ducati) 1'22.422; 5. Melandri (Aprilia) 1'22.704; 6. Laverty (Suzuki) 1'22.725; 7. Haslam (Honda) 1'23.181; 8. Baz (Kawasaki) 1'23.242; 9. Elias (Aprilia) 1'23.358; 10. Rea (Honda) 1'23.501; 11. Lowes (Suzuki) 1'23.562; 12. Canepa (Ducati) 1'23.924; 13. Barrier (BMW); 14. Iddon (Bimota); 15. Salom (Kawasaki); 16. Badovini (Bimota); 17. Staring (Kawasaki); 18. Morais (Kawasaki); 19. Camier (MV Agusta); 20. Andreozzi (Kawasaki).

Row three for Haslam at Laguna Seca

Pata Honda rider Leon Haslam will start tomorrow’s two ninth-round World Superbike championship races from the third row of the grid after setting the seventh fastest time in this afternoon’s Superpole at Laguna Seca in the USA.

The 31-year-old British rider, who has significantly improved his best time from last year’s race weekend at Laguna, lapped the 3.610km Californian circuit in a time of 1m23.181s on his Honda CBR1000RR machine in preparation for Sunday’s two 25-lap races.

His Pata Honda team-mate, Jonathan Rea, is racing at Laguna Seca for the first time and looked to be heading for a top six qualifying position in Superpole before crashing out at Laguna’s final turn. The 27-year-old from Northern Ireland remounted but was unable to improve his time, leaving him in tenth position on tomorrow’s grid.

Leon Haslam - P7, 1m23.181s

Honestly, I didn’t quite get the most out of the qualifier but it’s the first time all year that I’ve gone quicker on a qualifying tyre than a race tyre. I was a little cautious but the bike was working pretty good. I thought we’d get two laps out of the qualifier but I kind of made a mistake on the first one and that was it. But I’m not too unhappy – maybe a top six was possible if everything had gone to plan, but I’ll take seventh. It’s the highest dry qualifying we’ve had for a while and I’m feeling pretty good on race pace. I’ll try to get away with the boys in front and see how we go.

Jonathan Rea - P10, 1m23.501s

I’m really disappointed with my Superpole result because I made a mistake in the final corner on my first lap with the Q and crashed. It made it very hard to go fast again, even though I was able to re-mount and go again. But I couldn’t go faster than I went on my race tyre. I’m really gutted because tenth place is a fourth row start and it’s a long way back, especially at a circuit like Laguna where it’s difficult to pass. It’s definitely made tomorrow tough work but you can look at these things two ways. I’m going to take the positive view and go out tomorrow and really do the best I can and fight for what I can achieve. I think I can enjoy that side of it because I know our pace is quite good. They guys have done a great job all weekend making the bike better and better and we’ve made good progress. It makes it more disappointing not to at least give ourselves a fighting chance for a podium with a good start, but we’ll do the best we can from the fourth row and I’m really up for it.

Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator

Leon has made more progress today but he didn’t really have much grip on the SC0 race tyre in the first part of Superpole. Then when he put the qualifier in he was a bit cautious because of that. But he put it in seventh place which is OK and his race pace is good, although we could do with a couple of tenths here and there. He’s been riding well though, and hopefully he can get a good start to be in a position to get a good finish. Jonathan made some steps and found some pace on race tyres but we still need a little more. It was very unfortunate that on his qualifying lap he was on his way to a second row finish until he crashed in the last corner. Luckily he wasn’t hurt but he couldn’t improve his lap time. Tenth place is not where we want to start but we will have to go with what we have and ho pe he gets a couple of good starts tomorrow.




Laguna Seca (California, USA), 12 July 2014 - The official Aprilia Racing Team RSV4s are protagonists at Laguna Seca in the Superpole which decided the order on the starting grid for the Sunday races. In the qualifiers, as was seen already in the practice sessions, the gaps between the contenders were extremely small and the results were up in the air right down to the end.

Guintoli, in the lead for a long time after putting an excellent 1'22.339 on the boards to improve on the track record he set last year, finished the day in second place and will therefore be starting from the front row in the races tomorrow. The French rider also tried to take advantage of the soft qualifier tyre in a second flying lap, but his efforts were thwarted by an uncertainty in the first sector of the track.

Sylvain Guintoli: "Superpole didn't go badly. Unfortunately Sykes put in a very fast lap. The front row is what counts. On a track as twisty as this one starting off strong and getting out front as soon as possible is essential. Like always we did our homework, preparing for the races the best way we know how. I think we'll see two very close and exciting races so I can't wait to get onto the track and I hope to have some fun!"

Marco Melandri finished with the fifth best time (1'22.704) that earns him the centre spot on the second row of the grid. This is a good position for a start which will definitely be important given the amount of potential protagonists in the top positions and considering the characteristics of the winding Californian track where moving to the front of the group immediately is fundamental.

Marco Melandri: "All things considered it was a good qualifier. The lap with race tyres didn't go badly, but as usual I struggled a bit with the soft tyre, maybe partially because of my riding style. Tomorrow in the race I'm sure the fastest riders will try to get out front and pull the pin at the beginning, so breathing down their necks without letting up will be important. I hope I can get off to a good start so I can stay in the game until the end."

The Ducati Superbike Team qualifies third and fourth with Davies and Giugliano for tomorrow’s SBK races at Laguna Seca!

Monterey (USA), Saturday 12 July 2014 – great results for Davies, Giugliano and the Ducati Superbike Team in today’s ninth Superpole of the 2014 Superbike season, which took place this afternoon at the Californian circuit of Laguna Seca; British rider Davies qualified third, earning a place on the front row of tomorrow’s race grid, followed by teammate Giugliano, fourth.

During the morning’s free practice session, Giugliano continued to work with his team to resolve the problems he was experiencing yesterday; by the end of the session he had found a set-up that he was more comfortable with, and which enabled him to lap with a consistently fast pace. By the end of the session he had moved up into second place thanks to a best time of 1’23.242. Davies replicated yesterday’s strong performance, using the 30-minute session to work with his technicians and make final refinements to his 1199 Panigale ahead of the Superpole. With a fastest time of 1’23.318 he finished the session third.

Back on track for Superpole 2, which took place at 1.25pm local time, Davies made two initial laps on the race tyre. After returning to the pits to put in the qualifying tyre, the British rider was able to complete two flying laps, the second of which was the fastest, in a time of 1’22.384. This impressive lap time (well inside last year’s lap record) placed him third at the end of the hard-fought session. Giugliano also completed a lap on race rubber and then, once back out on the ‘Q’, he was able to record a very similar time to Chaz, with a 1’22.422 that assured him of final fourth position. The Ducati Superbike team will therefore line up on the front row of the grid tomorrow, in third with Davies, and the second row, with Giugliano taking the fourth slot.

Quotes after the day’s sessions:

Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team #7) – 3rd (1’22.384)

“I’m pleased to secure another front row start, two in a row is a bit unusual for me but it’s especially important at a tight track like Laguna, so I’m very happy and am looking forward to two good races. We have good race pace I think, although there are maybe six riders who are looking strong so it won’t be easy, we’re all so close in terms of times. I’ll be aiming to get off the line as quickly as possible and push for the podium. The weekend has been going to plan so far, so we’ll be doing all we can to continue the positive trend tomorrow.”

Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team #34) – 4th (1’22.422)

“Today has gone quite well, we’ve improved a lot compared to yesterday and that’s important. I’m pleased with fourth position even though I made a couple of errors during my flying lap that caused me to lose a couple of tenths. Our race pace is good anyway and I’m able to be fast and consistent even on used rubber. This gives me confidence ahead of tomorrow because the races will be hard-fought. There are maybe five of us with strong pace and I expect the final part of the race to be crucial once the grip begins to drop. It’s important to be fast on used tyres in order to fight for the podium or perhaps even something more.”

Sykes Obliterates Track Best Lap Time In Superpole

Tom Sykes secured his fourth pole position of the 2014 season on his official KRT Ninja ZX-10R during Superpole at the FIM Superbike World Championship round at Laguna Seca, setting a new best lap in the process. His team-mate Loris Baz finished up eighth on the grid and KRT SBK Evo rider David Salom was 15th, after an unusually tough Superpole qualifying session.

Sykes was the first SBK rider to ever dip under the 1’22 second barrier at Laguna Seca, with his 1’21.811 new best lap. It proved to be 0.528 better than any other rider after the sticky qualifying rear tyres were brought into play.

Also with a strong race pace set-up for his official machine Sykes is in confident mood for race day, after he and his crew had to work hard in practice to give him a bike that got easier to ride going into Superpole. Tom supplied the final ingredients of his own in his record breaking lap to take his 23rd career Superpole win.

Sykes, who won the first race at Laguna Seca here for Kawasaki in 2013, now starts in the best possible place for the two 25- lap races on Sunday 13th.

After a tough first day of qualifying at a circuit he had never visited before, Loris Baz had to enter Superpole one to get through to Superpole two today. He set the early fastest time in Superpole one then ran off track and toppled over in the dirt before remounting and working his way back to the pits. Loris recovered his composure and improved his time later in the session to leave Superpole one as the fastest rider. He ended up eighth fastest overall after Superpole two, earning a place on the third row of the grid.

KRT SBK Evo rider David Salom was Baz’s closest challenger in Superpole one for a time but he could not respond when other riders went faster and he finished up 15th on the grid for a fifth row start. He was not satisfied by his laps in qualifying but is much more confident in his overall race pace as he approaches two 25-lap races on Sunday 13th at Laguna Seca.

Tom Sykes: “To take pole here is very exciting especially after we struggled a bit earlier this weekend and because some of our competitors have been very strong here. Slowly but surely we have got the bike working much better and I am a lot more confident for tomorrow. It is crucial to be on the front row so when I put a qualifying tyre in I had a little stab at getting the best lap. I had a little adventure in The Corkscrew but I came out of the other side and we made it happen for the lap time. I am happy because it is a great lap time and the guys have all worked hard to achieve it. It’s going to be close tomorrow because a number of people have good race pace but I am looking forward to it.”

Loris Baz: “We improved today but I feel if we had the normal schedule, of two sessions on day one and then two more today, it would have helped us a bit more. I feel better today but yesterday I was far away and not riding so well. Today we were just missing some little things but I am sure we can find some good things in warm-up tomorrow. I was not at my best in practice at Portimao either but then the races were better, so we will be trying to find some good things tomorrow. The race is another thing from practice. If I can make a good start then I can learn a few things and follow them.”

David Salom: “I am not happy with my single lap time in qualifying but I am happy with the bike. For the race it should be good because we have strong pace in those conditions. I just did not make a very good lap in qualifying. We have a good bike set-up for the race but it is hard work around here. We have 25-laps each race tomorrow so it will be a busy race day!”

Laverty secures second row start at Laguna Seca

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki racer Eugene Laverty will start tomorrow's U.S. eni FIM Superbike World Championship races from the second row after scoring sixth position in Superpole at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca today.

Running in the top five on race tyres for the opening laps of the early afternoon session, Laverty pushed hard on his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R to maintain his pace on the qualifying rubber, clinching sixth position to round out the second row for Sunday's two contests.

After a promising start to his American debut, a change in fortune saw Alex Lowes struggle to match yesterday’s second row potential. Setting his fastest lap of the day on his final rotation aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000, the British rider will start from 11th place on tomorrow’s grid.

Having both secured their Superpole2 places on Friday afternoon, a brighter start saw Voltcom Crescent Suzuki take to the track under clear blue skies for the 30 minute non-timed free practice at the Laguna Seca track. Laverty consistently held his top five position for the majority of the session before dropping to eighth at the flag, while Lowes rounded out the top ten - less than a second separating the first 11 riders.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes took his 23rd Superpole of his career, breaking the best lap record with a 1'21.811, with Althea Ducati’s Niccolò Canepa the only EVO class machine in the top 12.

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki returns to the Californian circuit at 11:00hrs local time (19:00BST) tomorrow for the first of the day’s two World Superbike races, the final showing hitting the asphalt at 14:45hrs (22:45BST).

Eugene Laverty:

“Finally a decent qualifying result! It’s the first time we have been on the second row since Phillip Island, so we have made a good step as our task has been to improve our one-lap pace. I’m confident we will be strong over the race, it’s now just a matter of getting a good start and trying to go with the front guys. I’m looking forward to the races and to finishing at the front.”

Alex Lowes:

“11th is not where I want to be, so I’m disappointed. I was confident with the track and the GSX-R after yesterday’s performance, but today we seemed to struggle. I really like the Laguna circuit so hopefully we can work through some data this evening and come back fighting for tomorrow’s races.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“Sixth, and on the second row, is not a result to get too excited about but compared to where we’ve been recently in qualifying it’s a very positive outcome and it gives Eugene a much stronger opportunity to show his very best in the races tomorrow. The race tyre pace has been excellent all weekend and even in qualifying the new race rubber allowed Eugene to be only a tenth from the fastest rider. Eugene’s confidence looks like it’s coming back, the Suzuki is working well at this track and if we can put together a good couple of first laps I really hope that we can be in the fight for the top positions tomorrow.

“Alex had a very positive first day here at Laguna but by comparison struggled a little bit today and couldn’t get the consistency of feeling out of the bike that he is looking for. Whether that is in the bike setting or in Alex still learning the circuit and how to maximise his own potential here isn’t clear but we will keep working hard and trying to give Alex the best possible package for tomorrow and look for him, as he always does, to make a maximum effort to achieve the best result we possibly can.”


Team Bimota Alstare riders Christian Iddon and Ayrton were unable to get past Superpole 1 in Laguna Seca today, but are happy with the improvements to their bikes and are looking forward to tomorrow’s races. Christian finished third quickest in the EVO class and Ayrton fifth and they will start from the fifth and sixth rows of the grid respectively.

Christian Iddon – 3rd (EVO) 1:24.024

“In the morning we tried a couple of new parts but the thirty minute session really wasn’t long enough to evaluate them properly and see what the differences were. We also worked on the electronics and I feel that we are definitely improving in that direction. Working with electronics is always a lengthy process and it just takes time – that’s all. We also tried a few different tyres to see how they last and we have two choices, but haven’t decided which to use yet.

In Superpole 1, the bike felt really good on race rubber, but maybe I didn’t make the most of it. We then put the qualifying tyre on and I was probably a bit too hesitant on my first lap. I pushed harder on the second lap but made a small error and lost maybe two tenths of a second. I decided to try again on its third lap, but hit a couple of bumps into Turn 5 and lost the front and crashed. It was just a low speed crash and no problem, but it’s given the guys extra work and I’m sorry for that. They have worked really hard all year and, considering that this is a new bike, I think they’ve done really well to get it this good in such a short space of time. The improvements have been small, but it’s the little things that matter and I am very happy with our progress and looking forward to the races tomorrow.”

Ayrton Badovini – 5th (EVO) 1:24.301

“I am happy because the bike has improved quite a bit from yesterday. It feels good –especially on the race tyre. Here we have a new qualifying tyre and it takes a little time to understand the difference between it and the ones we have had before. Because of that, I didn’t want to push at 110% and maybe crash, so I rode as hard as I could without going over the limit.

I haven’t got a perfect set-up for the race, but I have got quite a good one and although Superpole didn’t go to plan, I think I can do a couple of good races tomorrow and come away with some good results.”

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