Jonathan Rea wins Laguna Seca WorldSBK Race One
Jonathan Rea has taken his first ever victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, beating teammate Tom Sykes into P2 with Nicky Hayden coming through under pressure to take the final spot on the rostrum.
Tom Sykes got away in the lead from pole, with the Yorkshireman leading Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who got a superb start from the second row to end Lap 1 in P2, ahead of Sykes’ KRT teammate Jonathan Rea.
With the front three close together and the second Aruba.it bike of Davide Giugliano leading Honda’s home hero Nicky Hayden in the chase, Davies took the lead with 21 to go with last year’s double winner looking to make it three in a row, before the Welshman pushed too hard on the front and slid off into the gravel at Turn 6, out of contention.
With Rea and Sykes closer to Giugliano after Davies’ crash, the reigning Champion then recovered from having gone slightly deep into the Corkscrew and began to put the hammer down.
Rea, who had never won at Laguna Seca and was only 0.055 off the Superpole-winning time set by teammate Sykes, showed great pace all weekend at the Californian track and began to pull away from Sykes, until a mistake at the Corkscrew once more saw the Northern Irishman soon lose the lead and forced to do the work again.
Rea eventually crossed the line over a second clear to take his first victory at the US track, with Sykes in P2 and another World Champion completing the podium in P3.
Kentucky Kid, MotoGP Legend and Honda World Superbike Team rider Hayden had warned against expecting miracles at his home venue, aware of the competition around him, but put in a superlative ride under pressure at home to come home in P3, adding another podium to his impressive rookie tally.
Hayden’s teammate, 2014 WorldSSP Champion Michael van der Mark, moved up from P11 on the grid to hunt down the frontrunners and cross the line P4 after taking IodaRacing’s Lorenzo Savadori and Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes in the latter stages of the race.
Lowes crossed the line in P5 and Savadori, who had never ridden at Laguna Seca, put in an impressive rookie ride to come home in the top 6, ahead of Barni Racing’s Xavi Forés and Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres.
Alex De Angelis on the second Aprilia and Niccolo Canepa on the second Pata Yamaha completed the top ten.
Leon Camier moved up one place from his starting position after an interrupted Friday to come home P11, ahead of Pedercini’s Anthony West and the Milwaukee BMW pairing of Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham.
Race two sees lights out at the same time on Sunday at 0730 Monday morning Australian time.
WorldSBK 2016 – Laguna Seca – Superbike Race One Results
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)
- Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)
- Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team)
- Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team)
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
- Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team)
- Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team)
- Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)
- Alex De Angelis (IodaRacing Team)
- Niccolò Canepa (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
P1 – Jonathan Rea
“I am super happy to have won here and now that we have had 25 laps on the bike in race conditions we have good information for tomorrow, to try and improve again. I am happy with the result but it was, honestly, not my most beautiful race because I made quite a lot of mistakes. I am sure when I watch it back I will be quite upset with myself but the most important thing is the 25 points for winning. That is good for everything – for the morale of the team and the championship. We have one more race tomorrow and it will be important to do a good job then before the start of the eight week summer break.”
P2 – Tom Sykes
“I think overall we had a fairly good bike set up but we just struggled with the last part of the turns and over 25-laps it adds up. I had to compensate in some other areas and that was not ideal, especially in the windy conditions. I think I am happy enough and I could not do anything more. Jonathan rode a good race and we just couldn’t get that extra little bit. We need to find a small change in the set-up tomorrow to improve in one area. Overall, I was happy with the performance at the start of the race and made some good lap times in the windy conditions. I think we have room for improvement tomorrow. Second is the best we could do today and second is not a disaster! We can build on this.”
P3 – Nicky Hayden
“First of all, I want to thank the fans and the supporters for coming to Laguna this weekend; you can feel a great energy and support I’ve been given is amazing! I got a great start to the race and was fifth early on, but my pace was not as good as we expected. We ran into a few little issues and wasn’t able to brake properly, so I felt I was quite vulnerable in that area. I tried to be as smooth as possible despite the pressure from my rivals and keep a steady rhythm. Luckily I was able to hang on for the podium, but we need to have a look at the data tonight to come up with something for race two. Overall, we must be happy with our third place and we’ll try to do better tomorrow.”
P4 – Michael Van der Mark
“Superpole wasn’t perfect, so I had to start from eleventh place. I had a good start to the race, but then on the first lap I missed corner and couldn’t get up to speed, so I got passed there. Step by step, I made my way up but despite pushing hard, the gap with Savadori was staying the same and that was a bit frustrating. I was able to get a little bit quicker and pass him, but Lowes wasn’t as easy to overtake. On the last lap, I closed down on Nicky but on the last corner I was simply not close enough to make it stick. Fourth place is a great result nevertheless and I’m back to fourth place in the standings; it’s good that it was Nicky the one getting on the podium today.”
Pieter Breddels – Honda WorldSBK Technical Manager
“We surely can be happy with third and fourth today; it’s a result that went beyond our expectations after Superpole. Nicky was brilliant in holding on to third, while Michael’s recovery was incredible. Both riders were at the limit with front grip, so it was definitely not an easy race for them. In the morning, we made some geometry changes at the front with Nicky, while also evaluating a different tyre choice. Lack of time was also a problem, because free practice 3 is only 15 minutes, so you have basically to try multiple changes at the same time. Michael tried different springs for more support but that resulted in a loss of grip, so we decided to go back to the previous choice. Our pace was one second faster than last year, so clearly we made a huge step forwards. Now we find that little extra, maybe a different tyre choice, in order to be even quicker tomorrow.”
P5 – Alex Lowes
“It was a good solid race this afternoon, obviously there was a bit of pressure on after a disappointing qualifying from 10th, so overall I’m happy to be fifth. I felt like, with 10-15 laps to go, we could challenge for the podium but unfortunately I was struggling to pass and just couldn’t find the right place. I had a couple of attempts but unfortunately I just didn’t have the pace in the areas I needed to get the pass done. In the end it felt quite frustrating but really it was a solid race and we’re quite happy. I’m hoping if we can make a few changes to the bike to give me a bit more confidence in the areas that I need to get past people a bit easier, then I can really look forward to tomorrow.”
Paul Denning – Yamaha WorldSBK Team Principal
“It’s been a challenging Saturday here at Laguna but both riders and team have made huge efforts to grind out the best possible results. The YZF-R1 has been incredible in qualifying trim all year so it was disappointing that we weren’t able to take advantage of the extra grip, resulting in ninth and tenth starting positions. Alex especially did an incredible job on the first lap to get up to sixth and fight for the podium from there onwards. Ultimately it’s a little disappointing to miss the first podium of the year by only a second but Alex struggled to pass Nicky who has more experience here than probably any other rider. Our focus for tomorrow will be to try and achieve more capability in the bike to allow Alex to make passes because he strongly believes that his pace over a clear lap could have seen him draw away and finish on the podium. Nonetheless it was a great effort and we will try and do more tomorrow. Niccolò rode a very consistent race, he’s disappointed with his 10th position result but coming in as a replacement rider to this championship is really not easy and there are some elements of the bike’s performance that we will work on to help his overall pace and consistency further tomorrow.”
Niccolò Canepa – P10
“It has been a very difficult race as we’ve been struggling all weekend to find the right set-up. We made some more changes for the race but they were maybe not so good, and we chose a different tyre to everybody else which was a little bit risky but I had nothing to lose so we tried to go for it. I think we have to rethink the changes and go back to an earlier set-up because the Superpole was better and choose the other tyre option for tomorrow. Anyway it was not so bad, we are still in the top ten, but I know the potential of the bike, the team and my own potential. I know that we can be faster here so we will keep working and I am confident that we will make an even better race for tomorrow.”
Chaz Davies – DNF
“I’m very disappointed. We got off a good start and we had a good pace from the very beginning. I didn’t feel on the limit but I felt the rear lock while on the brakes ahead of turn 7, and when it gained grip back the front loaded too much and I couldn’t do anything. We’ll try to bounce back tomorrow, given that we have good potential.”
Davide Giugliano- DNF
“It’s been a difficult day, for the whole team. We had a pace worthy of the podium, if not more, but it’s useless to say that in retrospect. We’ll have to understand together with the team what caused the crash, because at that point of the race I wasn’t pushing 100 percent as I was trying to save the tyres. We have to move on and look forward, as tomorrow we’ll have another chance to score a good result.”
Ernesto Marinelli, Ducati Superbike Project Director
“Today was certainly frustrating for the whole team. Now we’ll sit down all together to pinpoint the causes of both crashes and learn from what happened today. Surely we had the potential to do well, so we’ll try to make the most of it with the necessary poise in order to recover in Race 2.”