Steve English gets ready for WorldSBK to head west
The Monterrey Peninsula in Northern California was once a key ground for whaling, but can anyone claim the prize of landing the big fish in WorldSBK? Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) went winless in Misano last time out, but the Northern Irishman still holds a 50 point title lead over Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) as the series heads into the summer break.
While Rea’s championship lead has been cut for a third consecutive round, once again the reigning champion has plenty of ground to cede to his rivals. The Kawasaki rider has only been able to win once at the fabled Laguna Seca circuit, in last year's opening race. But with Sykes, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) and Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) previously victorious at the American venue, it could be a competitive weekend.
Sykes has won three times at Laguna and last year he followed Rea home in Race 1, before taking the win in the following outing. Having stood back on the top step twice in the last two rounds, Sykes is rounding into form and if he can claim a third pole position, he will certainly lay the foundations for a successful weekend.
At Misano Sykes didn't have the pace to fight for the win, but took advantage of the Davies and Rea crash to pick his way through to 25 points. Having followed that with a further 16 points in Race 2, the 2013 champion has been able to quietly consolidate his points and move back into genuine title contention.
The intra team relationship of the Kawasaki rivals has always been a key talking point in the championship. The tension has shown signs of boiling over again this season, but both riders have done their best to keep their emotions in check. Laguna Seca will once again see red hot weather, but we could also see red hot action on the track.