2017 Laguna Seca World Superbike Race Two Results: A Hot Trumpet

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.

Marco Melandri started on pole position due to his fourth place yesterday, with Xavi Fores and Leon Camier alongside him. Melandri was able to convert the pole position into a lead into the hairpin, ahead of Tom Sykes, blasting through outside the fast left kink of turn one from the third row, and Xavi Fores. Chaz Davies was in ninth place, not improving on his grid position for a few turns. Tom Sykes wasted no time to get to the front while Jonathan Rea tucked into third place behind Marco Melandri and passed the Ducati man into the last turn.

By the end of the first lap, two of the men from the third row led the race and by the end of the second, Marco Melandri having missed a corner and losing several places, Chaz Davies was in fourth place behind Xavi Fores. It’s safe to say that the reverse grid once again didn’t have that much impact on the race start.

A lap later, Jonathan Rea passed Tom Sykes neatly at turn three, after the hairpin, while over a second further back, Chaz Davies was stuck behind Xavi Fores, the factory Ducati not being significantly quicker than the satellite Panigale, especially with Laguna Seca not having any straights to speak of. Marco Melandri made up somewhat for his earlier mistake and passed Leandro Mercado, leaving only Jordi Torres between him and Chaz Davies.

With the pace even quicker than yesterday, the Kawasakis at the front putting in laps consistently below 1’24, Marco Melandri was able to reel in and pass Jordi Torres, but by the time he was in a position to try to catch Chaz Davies in fourth place, Davies was two and a half seconds ahead, and on lap seven, Davies took a tight line into the hairpin of turn two while Fores went a little wide, trying to defend third place. Jordi Torres, trying to keep up with Melandri, crashed out, losing the front and watching his bike play in the sandpit by itself as he picked himself up.

At half race distance, with the pace still up on yesterday, there was over two seconds between Rea and Sykes, Sykes and Davies, Davies and Fores and Fores and Melandri. The only rider making in-roads was Melandri in fifth place and a few laps later, Melandri closed in on Fores, as Fores dropped back from Davies. It looked like Fores just couldn’t keep the pace up, much to Melandri’s joy.

Lap thirteen and Marco Melandri played the same hand as Davies, passing Xavi Fores on the tight hairpin, the factory rider having considerably more grip left than the satellite rider.

As a battle raged over the remainder of the race for ninth place, a battle eventually won by Alex Lowes over Michael van der Mark and Stefan Bradl, the front of the race looked settled. Towards the end, though, Tom Sykes started to lose a bit of traction, and Chaz Davies looked like he might be able to catch him, but as Davies closed, Sykes got very good signals from his team and managed his lead to the end, with Davies only managing to get within nine tenths of a second before the lap counter ran out.

Jonathan Rea completed the race over twenty seconds quicker than yesterday’s, an improvement of almost a second a lap, and spent the first eighteen laps under 1’24, with Sykes almost matching his teammate. Chaz Davies may have been able to catch the Kawasakis in front, but spending too long behind Xavi Fores, the reverse grid finally showing an effect here, ensured he couldn’t catch the men in green.

Jake Gagne once again scored a point, only losing fourteenth place to Randy Krummenacher on the penultimate lap. With the podium placed where it is at Laguna SecaJonathan Rea had to run through several corridors before he could get into range to spray his team with Prosecco, but it was a sacrifice he deemed worth making.

Jonathan Rea now has a fifty nine point advantage over Tom Sykes with Chaz Davies a further fifty six points behind.


Pos No. Rider Bike Gap
1 1 J. REA Kawasaki ZX-10RR  
2 66 T. SYKES Kawasaki ZX-10RR 2.887
3 7 C. DAVIES Ducati Panigale R 4.847
4 33 M. MELANDRI Ducati Panigale R 17.159
5 12 X. FORÉS Ducati Panigale R 22.741
6 50 E. LAVERTY Aprilia RSV4 RF 26.377
7 36 L. MERCADO Aprilia RSV4 RF 28.475
8 32 L. SAVADORI Aprilia RSV4 RF 29.718
9 22 A. LOWES Yamaha YZF R1 33.044
10 60 M. VAN DER MARK Yamaha YZF R1 33.541
11 6 S. BRADL Honda CBR1000RR 36.756
12 40 R. RAMOS Kawasaki ZX-10RR 43.031
13 15 A. DE ANGELIS Kawasaki ZX-10RR 47.306
14 88 R. KRUMMENACHER Kawasaki ZX-10RR 50.488
15 45 J. GAGNE Honda CBR1000RR 51.093
16 96 J. SMRZ Yamaha YZF R1 59.197
17 37 O. JEZEK Kawasaki ZX-10RR 1'00.571
RET 86 A. BADOVINI Kawasaki ZX-10RR 5 Laps
RET 81 J. TORRES BMW S 1000 RR 18 Laps
RET 2 L. CAMIER MV Agusta 1000 F4 18 Laps
RET 35 R. DE ROSA BMW S 1000 RR 22 Laps


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Interesting to see the results: in the top-10 all bikes are neatly grouped together! Jake Gagne in 12th would have made it even tidier. He sure was trying hard on that Honda! Spectacular to see him wrestling that thing to stay in front of Krummenacher. Kudos to him for finishing both races in the points.

And good to see some progress at Aprilia. Laverty riding that V4 is a joy to watch! Hopefully he can take on those two Kawasakis and Ducatis after the summer break, the pieces of the puzzle finally seem to be falling into place.

Did Leon Camier have a deflated rear tyre? It sure looked like it, including the classic tyre kick. Too bad, he was doing great again. Rumour has it Honda is trying to lure him away; fortunately he is said to stick with his MV team. It seems like the much better bike this year anyway.

but this series needs to do something to entice Yamaha, Honda, Aprilia and Suzuki to care- even a little about it. WSBK is a thin shadow of its former self, processional and highly predicatble racing with only few winners on the same bikes. 

I really hope something can be done.

Seriously boring race, other than a bit going on down the order - especially Gagne wrestling the wayward pile of rubbish Honda. The reverse/scrambled grid is proving to be a farce, just makes the first laps more dangerous as the normal order shakes out by lap 4 or 5 if not earlier.  Something clearly has to be done about the rules to give it a bit of competition, though how you fix a series where two manufacturers are throwing a lot more at it than anyone else is hard to work out.  It doesn't matter how much you dumb it down, if Kawasaki still commits factory resources to it they'll pretty much always outgun the small teams.  All the others have a MotoGP program which takes the lions share of the race budget.

Sounds like spec electronics and more or less superstock rules will be here sooner rather than later, no bad thing in my opinion really.   It would be great to find a concensus of rules package that can be run world wide so that costs come way down and local riders can wildcard on their domestic bikes and be reasonably competitive.  SBK has certainly lost the way in recent years.  I'm staggered to think I'm trusting Dorna to actually fix it, but I believe they might.  Quite against my earlier opinions they have really turned MotoGP around and made a great product.

BSB has some great close racing. Perhaps BSB, WSBK and US series need to be unified by common rules ?

I hated not being there this year. Normally I would be working this race weekend but I had to work my day job and missed out. As it turns out, I didn't miss a whole lot. The highlight of the weekend for me was seeing Jake Gagne ride his arse off and score two points for Team Honda. Way to go, Jake! There is now a rumor floating around that the team may ask him to stay on for the rest of the season. I think that would be great. I would love to see that. But the races in general? Meh. I actually think I enjoyed the MotoAmerica races more. 

When you are there, things are always exciting because you are immersed in the action. being relegated to watching on TV, however, the races did seem to lack a little excitement, especially up front. As good as Johnathan Rae and these Kawasakis are, I think they are hurting the series. Outside of Ducati, the level of domination round after round is making this series less and less watchable to non-dedicated fans. It is obvious that Team Kawasaki is outspending the competition by a wide margin. As evidence of this, we need to consider that there are Seven ZX-10R's in the field, more than any other make. But outside of the factory bikes, the next best finisher on a ZX-10R in race 2 for example was Ramos on the Team Kawasaki Go  Eleven bike, 43 seconds behind Rae. With only the factory Ducatis for competition in budget as well as on-track performance, this is going to get old fast. I have nothing against Johnny Rae, but I do not want to see him on the top step every round.

They do need to do something, and they need to do it sooner than later. Attendance was up again at Laguna this year by 3,000 fans over last year, but if this lack of competitive racing continues, folks might just decide to stay home next year.    

This race was the poster child for why the "reverse grid" for race 2 idea was/is stupid. The three top finishers from race 1 face a roll of the dice in how the starters in the front two rows are going to behave. In this case, Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes won and Chaz Davies lost but it could easily have been the other way around. But the result is that instead of seeing a battle between the two fastest riders (probably Rea and Davies, and my personal opinion is that Rea had the edge on Sunday) we got a parade. A snooze-fest.

The Powers That Be at WSBK are rumoured to be considering abandoning the "reverse grid" idea (http://www.motorcyclenews.com/sport/world-superbikes/2017/july/wsb-serie...). That's good. If they really want to bring some competetiveness back to the race series they should see if they can twist some arms and get Davies and Rea sent over to MotoGP (not holding my breath).