Following up his successful Saturday Race 1 win, Jonathan Rea made Laguna Seca a weekend to remember when he added a second race win for the weekend to his tally. Chaz Davies was a distant second and Eugene Laverty completed the top three.
Despite being ninth on the grid, Rea quickly climbed through the ranks, and by lap three was into second place, chasing down Eugene Laverty. Marco Melandri crashed out early while chasing the leading group.
It didn’t take much longer for the Race 1 leader to pass Laverty either, picking off the Aprilia rider with ease through Lap eight. A similar story to yesterday: two thirds of the race left, an open track ahead, and an unbeatable race pace. When Rea finds his groove and is this confident, the three time champion is second to no one. Even Davies, who put in another stunning climb through the ranks and passed Laverty into second with eight laps to go, couldn’t close the gap and had to settle for second.
In a similar performance to Sunday however, there was plenty of action for the remaining rostrum place. Laverty, who was now in third, was quickly hunted down by the two Pata Yamaha riders. But the pair battled amongst themselves for just enough laps for the Irishman to keep them both at bay, clinching his first podium of the 2018 campaign, and his first since Sepang 2014.
The battle between Round Six and Seven’s race winners van der Mark and Lowes, saw the Brit finally emerge victorious with two laps to go thanks to a brave pass in the run-up to the Corkscrew. A bit of magic from the Lincolnshire rider means he is able to close the gap to his teammate in the standings to just 32 points. Van der Mark meanwhile couldn’t make the best of a fantastic start, which saw the Dutchman rise to second at Turn One, eventully crossing the line in fifth.
Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) repeated his Race One performance with sixth at the flag, a sign that the Spaniard is building back his form after two forgettable rounds. Behind him was fellow Spaniard Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in seventh, ahead of Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in eighth.
Sykes is a three time winner at Laguna Seca, but on Sunday he found himself collapsing down the ranks from the start and it never quite worked out for the #66 Kawasaki.
Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) went one better than on Saturday, crossing the line in ninth, his personal best result in WorldSBK. A fantastic weekend at home for the Californian, who crossed the line ahead of Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) in tenth and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura).
A special mention for Karel Hanika (Guandalini Racing), who crossed the line in a promising 14th, scoring points in both races at Laguna Seca on his WorldSBK debut.
Jonathan Rea – P1
“An incredible weekend. I expected to be strong here but I had no idea how strong. Two weekends in a row now, Brno and here, we have been the reference. Weekends like that do not happen all the time so we have to really absorb it and enjoy the moment. A double win at Laguna in the sunshine – it does not get much better. There are so many people out around the track. A massive thanks to all my crew, especially Pere because even though we won yesterday with a margin, last night he changed the bike completely and gave me some more confidence in the front. It worked a dream. It was one of those races where I could absorb what was happening, the crowd, the weather, where I was; it really was an incredible race.”
Chaz Davies – P2
“All in all, we can be happy with this round. The goal is always to win, but it’s good to be back at the front and I feel we got the best out of myself and the package this weekend. We’re back at the sharp end after a couple of tough rounds. We’re not too far away from our main rivals, we just need to fine tune some details. Today I got a good start but, to be honest, I was twitching a bit with the front in the early laps and I wasn’t even pushing that hard. Then things leveled down, I got into my rhythm and climbed back to second. We’ve made strides in the areas in which we’ve been struggling recently, so we just have to go to Misano and see if we can polish up those final details.”
Eugene Laverty – P3
“That was a great race and result, it was reminiscent for me of Phillip Island where we were strong. The first three laps went to plan today, I just aimed to be careful and try to extend the lead. When this bike has good grip it’s exceptional, so I had to ride at 90% for the first stint and then began pushing in the later stages. I handled my rhythm well and got passed by Johnny [Rea] and the Chaz, but I felt comfortable and I knew I could hold off the guys behind, and then I dropped the hammer for the last few laps to secure third. It’s been a great weekend in general, yesterday was encouraging and then today was even better, and it’s nice to get that monkey off my back.”
Alex Lowes – P4
“The race was good! It was fantastic to have another battle with Michael. Fair play to him because he has had a more difficult weekend but he turned it around in Race 2 to have a really strong pace, which was really nice to see. I actually felt really good in the race, I just didn’t get the best start. I tried to be a bit aggressive and struggled a bit at the start but I managed to pass a few guys, keep my pace really strong, and I think if I had just managed to get past Michael six or seven laps earlier, maybe I could have challenged for the podium. I think my pace was good enough, which is a compliment to my guys on this track, so a massive thank you to them. A third and a fourth is a good job and I look forward to trying to close the gap to Johnny and Kawasaki in the next race!”
Michael van der Mark – P5
“I am really happy with today’s result! The guys worked really hard to find a solution to all the problems we had yesterday and this morning I felt a lot better in Warm Up in the cooler temperatures. In the race, I had a good start and made my way up to second and was so much faster than I was yesterday. I had some issues with the bike stability on corner exit but this is normal because we changed the bike so much and then just went into the race with it. Alex passed me a few laps before the end and I think we must be really happy with P5 after all the difficulties we have had here. So, a really positive result after a difficult race yesterday, and I am looking forward to Misano!”
Paul Denning – Pata Yamaha Team Principal
“It is always a pleasure to be in California and in particular the Laguna Seca race track. Even though last year we suffered badly with our performance here, the race today has confirmed the huge improvements made in the R1’s performance and in the overallcompetitiveness of the project. It was great to see Michael and Alex entertaining everybody with extremely hard but fair racing and both riders did a great job from start to finish. We closed the gap significantly to the winner and with a couple more laps of the race Alex could have potentially have backed up his podium from yesterday. Thanks to the team, to Yamaha, and to the riders for their hard work and expertise. We look forward to going to Misano in two weeks where we were extremely competitive last year!”
Tom Sykes – P8
“We just did not get the set-up. We changed a couple of things but the only positive is that we confirmed that the front tyre yesterday was an issue. Today we had a relatively good front set-up but unfortunately it looks like a small change to the rear did not help. I just struggled really when it came to the races, which I am disappointed about. There is nothing much more I can say. The only strange thing is that during practice we had good speed and felt we were capable of a much stronger result today.”
Marco Melandri – DNF
“Unfortunately, when the grip decreases due to high temperatures, the bike becomes more difficult to handle when the tarmac is a bit bumpy. Today, I was losing a lot in corner exit and, while trying to make up for it, I had to push more under braking. Laguna Seca is particularly demanding with the front, but I didn’t expect to lose it in that corner. It’s a pity, because we started the weekend strong but, as the conditions changed, we struggled. I’m looking forward to Misano, where we scored our first win last year and we know we can be competitive.”
“As always, the races at Laguna Seca are very exciting. Chaz and the whole team did the best they could, taking home the best possible result, a double podium that leaves us hopeful for the next races. We’re sorry for Marco, we were hoping for a better result after yesterday’s comeback, but unfortunately his race ended too soon while he was fighting for the podium. We can only keep working hard to be as prepared as possible for the next round at Misano.”
#USWorldSBK Raceway Laguna Seca: Race 2
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 5.099
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) +6.711
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 8 – Top 15
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