Round Nine – Laguna Seca
The Californian weekend of the Motul FIM World Superbike Championship, hosted by the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, ended with two wins for Jonathan Rea and one for Chaz Davies.
After winning Race 1 on Saturday, Rea also won the Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday morning, but was unable to defeat Chaz Davies in Race 2.
For the other rider representing the manufacturer from Borgo Panigale, the previously dominant Álvaro Bautista, it was a weekend to forget with a crash in Race 1 and a DNF in Race 2 when he was forced to retire on the third lap.
The Spaniard, who was the favourite for the world title in the early part of the year, is now 81-points behind Jonathan Rea and will be forced to make a difficult comeback after the summer break, in the hopes that his rival is unable to finish consistently on the podium, as he has so far.
Worth a mention is the excellent performance by the talented young Toprak Razgatlioglu with his two third place finishes in Race 1 and Race 2 and his fourth place in the Tissot Superpole Race.
Superpole Race Report
The Tissot Superpole Race lost one of its key players as early as the first lap when Álvaro Bautista tumbled disastrously to the ground just a few metres after the start due to contact with the rear tyre of Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing / Kawasaki ZX-10RR) who was overtaking him.
Then, on the following lap, an accident at the top of the Corkscrew involving Alessandro Delbianco and wild card JD Beach forced race direction to red-flag the race, bringing the action to a halt. The three riders involved in the accidents wound up in the medical centre and were unable to be on the grid for the restart, which anticipated an 8-lap race.
As in Saturday’s Race 1 (Link), in this sprint race, Jonathan Rea once again started well and managed to maintain the race lead from start to finish, winning with a 2.5 second gap ahead of Chaz Davies and 3.6 seconds ahead of Tom Sykes who, unlike in Race 1, this time around succeeded in snatching the final step of the podium from Toprak Razgatlioglu. The Turk finished fourth ahead of the other factory Kawasaki ridden by Leon Haslam.
Superbike Race Two
In Race 2, the order of the riders on the podium changed, but the faces were the same as those in Race 1.
Winning this second race was Welshman Chaz Davies who, unlike in Race 1, chose the same tyre used by Jonathan Rea, managing to overtake him on the inside at the first turn after the start and then maintaining the race lead all the way to the chequered flag. With the exception of this pass, throughout the rest of the race, the riders in the front maintained the positions taken at the start, with the reigning World Champion, after winning Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race, finished on the second step of the podium more than three seconds behind Davies.
Finishing third was Toprak Razgatlioglu who repeated his performance from Race 1, once again the best independent team rider.
Alex Lowes, Tom Sykes and Leon Haslam completed the top-six race finishers.
No score again for Álvaro Bautista who, after crashing in the Tissot Superpole Race, attempted to partake in Race 2 anyway, but made a bitter return to pit lane to retire on the third lap. The same fate awaited Michael Van Der Mark on the sixth lap.
“This means so much to me. It’s been a tough season for me. We’ve been trying so many things and not just really finding my feet. This year has been so so tough for many different reasons, but I want to say thanks to my team because they’ve been behind me the whole way and nobody threw the towel, and they kept trying to get more and more comfortable and this is the result. To win here on the U.S. soil is so amazing. I think it’s my fourth win here and I love Laguna, I love America, I love California and bringing home the victory today is the best way to going into the Summer Break. I am really happy with that, and it is dedicated to all my team”.
“I am super satisfied with our weekend. We got two wins, a new lap record and also a second place! It is good for us. The team gave me a great bike and our ZX-10RR was working so good. We just made a small change between the Superpole Race and Race 2 that put my front in crisis a little bit, and I was struggling to finish the corner, but aside from that, I did the best I could so congratulation to Chaz and Ducati. I am looking forward to my Summer Break now”.
“I am happy to be on the podium again. This morning the Tissot Superpole Race didn’t go well because after the red flag we didn’t change tyres, and we were able to finish just fourth. But for Race 2 I knew that my feeling with the bike was good. I tried to follow the front guys but I couldn’t keep their pace as again, after 10 laps, tyres dropped their performance. Anyway, I am pleased about this second podium, and I now am looking forward to starting my holidays”.
“I really feel bad about what happened today. At Turn 1 in the Superpole Race, Razgatlioglu completely closed my line and I couldn’t do anything to prevent his rear wheel from hitting my front. His move ruined both of my races today because I injured my left shoulder in the crash. I was taken to the medical centre and after checks, I was given the OK by the doctors to try and take part in Race 2, seeing as the X-ray showed that nothing was broken. Unfortunately, after just one lap I realized that the pain was too much for me to ride because as I didn’t have any strength in my left arm I wasn’t able to brake in the left-handers, and for this reason I came into the pits. I’m very sorry because we are working really well and always find the way to go fast, but in any case we’re going through a really difficult time at the moment. I’m sure that if we continue to work in this way, we’ll come back stronger than ever and with even more desire to win. As soon as I get back home, I’ll have more detailed checks done on my shoulder ligaments, but luckily two months’ break before the next race will surely allow me to fully recover.”
“I felt we had good pace today and we were there for that podium pace. I could catch Tom Sykes and Alex quite comfortably but in the end I just struggled with myself, not the bike. Especially braking into left hand corners – and there are a fair few of them here. I was disappointed with the crash yesterday and I have suffered all day today with my wrist and the pain transferred into my shoulder because I was not riding as freely. I can’t be too unhappy as it was my mistake when we crashed in Race One, but we have had a fifth and sixth today and were not far off the podium pace.”
“We’ve come away again with a bag full of top-5 finishes, including a podium in the sprint race. Overall it was a very productive weekend for the whole BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team. The bike seems to be not getting the best from the tyres at the moment but we got a lot of information this weekend and having said that it was a complete different story at the end of that race two. We had a lot of pace and I closed the gap to Alex Lowes so that’s certainly positive to take with us. We now have the summer break coming up so it’s just cool that at the right time we got a lot of information at the weekend and hopefully now the guys in the team can put this to good use. There are still areas to work on but overall the whole package is quite promising and having three podiums at the last three rounds is not too bad against these experienced manufacturers. I’m enjoying riding, have a great relationship with the team and BMW and it’s needless to say that we are heading in the right direction. I think everybody has seen that the progress we’ve made from the opening round until now has been quite impressive.”
“It was a fairly decent weekend, at a track at which we have always struggled a bit and were never really on the pace, but unfortunately it was the same for all the Yamahas. This afternoon I felt that I did the best that I could have – the leading trio were just too far ahead for me to make any inroads into their lead – so I’m fairly happy with fourth. The result means I’ve overtaken Michael in the championship standings and I’m now third, but it was a shame he had a problem with the bike today, as he’s done such a great job here and at Donington so soon after his Misano injury. But that’s racing sometimes and it’s certainly going to make for an interesting final four rounds with both of us determined to finish the season in the top three. I’m now looking forward to the Suzuka 8hr with the Yamaha Factory Racing Team, a little bit of time off and then back to WorldSBK at Portimão, a track that suits the R1 well and at which we will try to fight at the front again.”
Michael van der Mark
“We made some changes for the Superpole race that didn’t quite work as we were expecting, which meant I missed out on the top nine by just one place and had to start Race 2 from the fifth row of the grid. I had a really good start, made some early passes and was up to ninth at the end of the first lap. I felt so much better with the bike, a lot more confident and I could see the group ahead weren’t pulling away from me like they did yesterday. Once I managed to get past Loris Baz, I was feeling pretty comfortable and confident of gaining more places, but then we had a technical problem with the bike and I had to retire. It’s a big shame, because I was feeling better on my R1 than I had all weekend and we lost quite a lot of points. Anyway, we have a fairly long break now, of course including the 8hr race which is always a big challenge, and I’m sure we’ll be back really strong in Portimão – I love the track and I want to be fighting again to win.”
“I was happy with my pace in Race 2 today. We took a bit of a gamble going with the X rear tyre because we didn’t know what to expect, but we had nothing to lose and here it’s really hard to overtake, so I knew that going hard from the start to build a gap could work. I had the best feeling with the bike of the whole weekend; here the Yamahas have struggled a little with the rear on corner entry, but today was better. It wasn’t easy to pass Jordi Torres, but once I was through, I just tried to be really consistent and not make any mistakes for the rest of the race. My pace at the end was a second and a half faster than yesterday, so I was happy to see such a big improvement. Three good races finished here and now we can look forward to testing at Portimão next month.”
“The goal was top nine and a decent grid position in the Superpole race, but I made a mistake trying to pass Markus Reiterberger and lost a lot of places. So, I started Race 2 from the sixth row at a track where it’s really difficult to overtake and where I have struggled to get the best from the new tyres. I just didn’t have the pace in the opening laps, but after 14 or 15 laps I was going much better, but by that time the gaps were too big, and it was too late. I would like to feel more comfortable on the bike, but this is the situation we’re in at the moment and I can only continue to do my best.”
“It was a tough day and I was just happy to finish the race and pick up two points. This wasn’t our objective for the weekend, but it was all that was possible. Now I have to concentrate on my recovery during the summer break, to make sure I come back strong in Portimão ready for the last four races of the season. Thanks to the team for all their support this weekend and for doing such a great job. This was a tough race track to learn, especially with the injury, and a difficult weekend overall, but I’ve enjoyed my first visit to Laguna Seca and I’m looking forward to coming back to race here again.”
WorldSBK Laguna Seca Race Results
Superpole Race Results
|1||J. Rea||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||0.000|
|2||C. Davies||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+2.533|
|3||T. Sykes||BMW S1000 RR||+3.641|
|4||T. Razgatlioglu||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+4.901|
|5||L. Haslam||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+5.995|
|6||A. Lowes||Yamaha YZF R1||+6.207|
|7||L. Baz||Yamaha YZF R1||+9.597|
|8||J. Torres||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+9.711|
|9||L. Mercado||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+13.441|
|10||M. Van Der Mark||Yamaha YZF R1||+13.633|
|11||S. Cortese||Yamaha YZF R1||+14.658|
|12||M. Reiterberger||BMW S1000 RR||+14.865|
|13||M. Rinaldi||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+17.991|
|14||E. Laverty||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+18.917|
|15||R. Kiyonari||Honda CBR1000RR||+19.253|
|16||M. Melandri||Yamaha YZF R1||+40.443|
|NS||A. Delbianco||Honda CBR1000RR||DNS|
|NS||J. Beach||Yamaha YZF R1||DNS|
|NS||A. Bautista||Ducati Panigale V4 R||DNS|
Race 2 Results
|1||C. Davies||Ducati Panigale V4 R||0.000|
|2||J. Rea||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+3.333|
|3||T. Razgatlioglu||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+11.658|
|4||A. Lowes||Yamaha YZF R1||+16.259|
|5||T. Sykes||BMW S1000 RR||+16.823|
|6||L. Haslam||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+19.449|
|7||L. Baz||Yamaha YZF R1||+23.637|
|8||J. Torres||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+24.572|
|9||M. Melandri||Yamaha YZF R1||+25.919|
|10||M. Rinaldi||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+30.742|
|11||L. Mercado||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||+32.177|
|12||E. Laverty||Ducati Panigale V4 R||+38.508|
|13||M. Reiterberger||BMW S1000 RR||+41.862|
|14||S. Cortese||Yamaha YZF R1||+41.989|
|15||R. Kiyonari||Honda CBR1000RR||+55.483|
|16||J. Beach||Yamaha YZF R1||+100.385|
|17||A. Delbianco||Honda CBR1000RR||+112.973|
|RET||60 M. Van Der Mark||Yamaha YZF R1||22 Laps|
|RET||19 A. Bautista||Ducati Panigale V4 R||24 Laps|
|4||Michael Van Der Mark||215|
|11||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||97|