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USWorldSBK – Day 2: Rea roars ahead to seventh win in 2018 at Laguna Seca
Trademark consistency pays off for defending champion in new battle with Davies
Rea leads the way ahead of Davies into the infamous corkscrew
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) proved that his Friday form was no fluke by taking his seventh win of the campaign in Race 1 at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship witnessed a new battle between the defending champion and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), another chapter in the vast collection of showdowns between the pair. This time, it was the Northern Irishman’s time to shine in the blazing Californian heat – his third triumph at Laguna Seca.
With both men starting on opposite sides of the front row, Race 1 quickly became a two-man affair, after Rea passed Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) before Turn 1. A first attack inside that first lap from the defending champion at turn 11 was quickly shrugged off by Davies on the exit, but the warning shot had been fired. Behind, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) began to pile the pressure on Sykes in third, with Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) crashing out after an excellent start from the lights.
Seven laps passed with no further attacks on the Welshman – and as things turned out, no more were needed. Davies suffered a mistake through the corkscrew, and was then unable to keep up the pace in the closing ten laps.
It’s tough to match the three time champion at the best of times – with a free track ahead, the task is nigh-on impossible. Rea drowned out any possibility of a comeback, keeping a consistent 1-2 second gap all the way through the latter two thirds of the race. With Davies ending the race in second, the two are now separated by 70 points in the standings, with eleven races remaining on the calendar.
Behind the pair, Alex Lowes found his way quickly past Sykes into third, with the KRT rider falling slowly down the standings. The Lincolnshire rider has shown tremendous pace throughout the last three rounds, and following his maiden WorldSBK win with another podium – his first at Laguna Seca – spells excellent news for the Yamaha man going into tomorrow.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) repeated his best performance this season with an excellent fourth, making it four different machines in the top four positions, and highlighting how far the RSV4-RF has progressed in recent races. The Irishman will also have the bonus at starting from pole tomorrow, at a track where a front row can be a near guarantee of success.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) bounced back from a disappointing qualifying session with fifth in Race 1, an admirable climb from the fourth row. He passed fellow Panigale R rider Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) in the final laps. The Spaniard, top independent rider in California, will nonetheless be pleased with his progressive return to form.
Much less comfortable during the race than through the earlier Superpole session, Tom Sykes ended his race successfully defending seventh place from Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who had to be content with eighth, in front of Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in ninth.
Scoring his best result in WorldSBK, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) finished his home race in tenth place to the delight of all the American fans at Laguna Seca.
Race 2 is live from Laguna Seca tomorrow, with lights out at 14:00 local time (21:00 GMT)!
P1 – Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“It was a really nice race, I got a really good start and Chaz was setting a really good rhythm and it was hard to overtake him. But this happened at the corkscrew, and that helped me a lot. From there I could eeek out my pace and I was just trying to keep everything under control, but this one is for my mechanics after they stayed up to re-build my bike.”
P2 – Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)
“The mistake on the corkscrew didn’t cost me the win, it let Jonny by but I don’t think we had the pace at the end to challenge for the win, I was trying to adapt my style for the last ten laps, but nothing was really doing the trick for me. I’m really happy with the race, a solid 20 points and its nice to be there or there about after a trick few rounds – its nice to have something we can build on.”
P3 – Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“To be honest its been a tough track for me and the Yamaha’s, to get a podium is fantastic. Jonny knows its hard to keep winning, its hard to keep putting the work in and keep improving, but its motivation for me to catch this guy and keep winning. I really enjoyed that, so thanks guys.”
MONTEREY, CA (June 23, 2018) – Monster Energy/Yamalube/Yamaha Factory Racing’s Cameron Beaubier won his third race in a row today, the two-time MotoAmerica Superbike Champion winning race one of the Championship of Monterey on a hot, sunny day at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Beaubier, who won the Motul MotoAmerica Superbike title in 2015 and 2016, beat early race leader Josh Herrin by 5.403 seconds with the Attack Performance/Herrin Compound rider exhausted after taking part in both the MotoAmerica and World Superbike races today.
For Beaubier, it was win number three on the season and win number 27 of his Superbike career. He is now one short of tying Ben Spies for fourth on the all-time Superbike win list.
In addition to winning on the racetrack, Beaubier also won big in the championship as his rival Toni Elias crashed his Yoshimura Suzuki twice in the race, ending up 14th and earned just three points. Beaubier, who started the day two points ahead of Elias, is now 24 ahead, 178-154, after taking home the maximum haul of 25 points.
“I’m happy I increased my points for sure,” Beaubier said. “That race was tough. I got shuffled back. I got such a bad start, kind of like always. I need to work on those. (Josh) Herrin was putting the laps together at first out front. I saw the red band on his tire and I noticed that he went with the super soft option, and I went with the second soft option. To be honest I didn’t really notice a huge difference on the tires in the practices and qualifying we did. That was the tire we decided to go with and I think it was the right choice. I felt pretty consistent the whole race. Honestly, from the start of the race my tires just felt kind of greasy. It’s a little hotter than the past couple years here, but I enjoyed it. I was able to get through the pack somewhat clean and slowly catch Herrin. It could have been a different story if Herrin didn’t have a race before. He’s been on fire all weekend, so hats off to him and also Roger (Hayden). I’m just really, really happy to put my R1 up on the top step. It’s been kind of a slow start to the season. We had some podiums. We’ve had some good races, some bad races. I’m really, really happy. We’re just moving in the right direction after Road America. Just chipping away, and hopefully tomorrow put my head down again and see what happens. I know these guys are going to be tough. Thanks to all you fans for coming out.”
Herrin, who earned his first MotoAmerica Motul Superbike pole position earlier in the day, led the first eight laps before giving way to Beaubier.
“As you said, I did a lot of laps this weekend,” Herrin said. “It was a lot hotter than the weather said it was going to be. Can’t ever trust the weatherman. It’s been difficult for sure. I think we kind of hurt ourselves racing World Superbike as well and not putting in as many laps in MotoAmerica practices as we should have to learn the tires. But that’s just what we had to do to make sure we minimized the amount of time I was on the bike to be able to finish the races today. Just happy to be up here, to be honest. It feels good to be in second. I was pretty disappointed at first just because the weekend was going so well with MotoAmerica practices. I was real confident we were going to be able to fight up front the whole time. Cam was riding a hell of a race. I don’t know how much of a difference or how much the tires came into play. I was definitely sliding a lot, but it could have been the same for him.”
Yoshimura Suzuki’s Roger Hayden also put in a day’s work today, the Kentuckian starting all the way back in 12th and on the fourth row of the grid after crashing on the first lap of Superpole. Hayden got a good start and worked his way through the pack for his second third-place finish in a row.
“Yeah, definitely didn’t make things easy for me,” Hayden said. “Crashed in qualifying the first lap. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. I got a good start and went through the pack pretty quick. These two have been fast all week. They were fast and just a little bit better than us today, so we have a little homework we have to do tonight to try to find a little speed. I’m happy to be on the podium. Got a good start and made some passes pretty quick and got into third pretty early. Tried to catch these guys, but it just wasn’t happening. I had a big gap to the guy behind me. Josh (Herrin) was a little bit in front of me. I could tell he was just managing our gap so we’ll try and find a little speed tomorrow. Hats off to these two guys.”
Fourth place today went to Beaubier’s teammate Garrett Gerloff, the Texan some three seconds behind Hayden and some four seconds ahead of Yamalube/Westby Racing’s Mathew Scholtz.
Scheibe Racing’s Danny Eslick qualified on the front row and pushed hard in the opening laps, but eventually faded back to sixth by the end of the 23-lap race. Still, the result matched his best effort of the season.
Genuine Broaster Chicken Honda’s Cameron Petersen ended up seventh, racing mostly alone and finishing two seconds ahead of M4 ECSTAR Suzuki’s Jake Lewis. Cycle Gear/KWR’s Kyle Wyman and Fly Street Racing’s David Anthony rounded out the top 10.
For Elias it was a tough day at the office with two crashes both caused by false neutrals.
“Great start and then did a neutral into turn one, unfortunately running off and losing the front on the gravel,” Elias said. “Then I was working for tomorrow, trying different things on the bike to get more information for my team. Then I lose the front going into (turn) one again. Since the new tire arrived we are having a lot of problems and then here mixing with traction control problems. I’m 24 behind now. 24 points or Cameron Beaubier is not my problem. The problem is myself and my bike and when that is like it was before we will be okay again.”
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team on the podium in Race 1 at Laguna Seca with Davies (2nd), strong comeback for Melandri (5th)
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team stepped back on the podium at Laguna Seca (United States), home of the eighth round of the WorldSBK Championship, thanks to a brilliant second-place finish by Chaz Davies. The Welshman, who took pole position earlier on, maintained the lead at the start and posted the race’s fastest lap with a 1:23.041 (the new track record) to pull away. In tricky conditions – with circa 50 degrees on the tarmac and low grip – a wobble going into turn 8 moved him into second place, which he then kept until the checkered flag.
Marco Melandri, penalized by a Superpole finished in tenth position, showed great tenacity coming back to fifth place on a track where it’s particularly difficult to pass. The Italian finished strong, showing the best pace in the final laps, and tomorrow will start from second position on the grid.
The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will be back on track Sunday, June 24th, at 10:30 local time (CET -9) for a warm-up session ahead of Race 2, which is scheduled to start at 14:00 (23:00 CET).
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 2nd
“It was a good race. From where I sat, I did all I could. I gave up the lead while pushing, but honestly I don’t think the final result would have changed. I was trying to keep Rea honest but we just didn’t quite have the pace in the last ten laps. I was losing a tenth here and there, so I tried not to make mistakes and see what he had. He made a couple of errors at the Corkscrew, but not big enough for me to erase the gap. Overall I’m very happy, we got pole position and fastest lap but just missed the big trophy. We got good data and learned a bit today, so hopefully we’ll come back a little bit stronger tomorrow.”
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #33) – 5th
“Today we faced a difficult race despite the fact that the weekend had been going really well so far. In Superpole I didn’t find much grip and I couldn’t make a good lap. Starting from fourth row wasn’t easy, early on I couldn’t ride smoothly but after a while I started to feel better. Unfortunately, we were too far by then to challenge for the podium. I tried to catch Laverty but I made a mistake during the last lap and probably it wouldn’t have been possible to pass him anyway. Tomorrow is a new day, we’ll try improve during warm-up and we’ll see how we fare in Race 2. Starting from first row will help, but it’ll be more important to improve the pace.”
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
“After a positive Friday, we confirmed our competitiveness despite the fact that higher temperatures changed the track’s conditions. Chaz gave his all to claim a very important second place, and Marco also showed his tenacity but unfortunately he was penalized by the issues encountered during qualifying. We’ll analyze the data to further improve ahead of Race 2”.
Gagne grabs first WorldSBK top ten in Race 1 at Laguna Seca
Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, United States
Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team rookie Jake Gagne stormed to his best ever finish in the WorldSBK championship, the American rider taking full advantage of his home circuit knowledge to claim tenth place in Race 1 at Laguna Seca.
Lining up on the grid for Race 1 in P16, Gagne’s best ever race result was initiated by a strong surge in the opening stages of the race when he passed numerous riders on his Fireblade. Finding himself in tenth place by lap seven, Gagne came under pressure from other riders while nursing a slight issue on his bike, but managed to hold them off to secure a fine tenth place finish.
On the number 2 CBR1000RR, fortunes were less kind to Camier who started from P7 on the grid for Race 1. Camier started steadily but improved his pace as the race went on and while running in P9 and catching the rider ahead of him, his gearshift lever broke resulting in an early retirement for the British rider.
The tenth place for Gagne means his point tally grows to 30 championship points and he remains in 17th overall in the standings. Camier is twelfth overall with 72 championship points.
Race 2 will take place at 1400 local time (GMT -7) tomorrow with the next session of the weekend, the Sunday Warm Up session starting at 1030 local time.
Leon Camier 2
Today it was a difficult race, my pace in the early stages wasn’t what I was expecting but as the race progressed I managed to get quicker and had a better rhythm. As soon as I felt good on the bike and started to gain on the riders in front of me, I had a problem with my gearshift lever which meant I couldn’t continue. Me and my team will look to see where can can adjust the bike ahead of tomorrow’s race so that I can be stronger in the first part of the race, if we can make that happen I’m sure Race 2 will be better.
– Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It was a pretty positive day, my first top ten in WorldSBK so I’m happy about that. My first couple of laps were good, it seems the warmer track temperature actually helped me compared to the other guys, so I could make quite a few good passes. Starting so far back on the grid meant I had a lot of work to do, but I could work my way up to tenth place and bring the bike home in that position after I had a little technical issue on the bike. We’ll try a couple of things in Warm Up tomorrow as I think we can improve things even further and I’m confident we can do another good job tomorrow.
– Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team