WorldSBK commentator Steve English reviews the Californian dream
The United States of America is the land of opportunity, and the GEICO US Round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship certainly offered an opportunity to shine. The stunning Californian circuit produced some stunning racing, and with five rounds remaining of the season it's clear that we could see some surprises before the year is out.
The recent form of Yamaha has been superb, and Laguna Seca offered even more reason for the operation to feel optimism, whilst the same can now be said for the Milwaukee Aprilia team. Having finally claimed their first WorldSBK podium, the team can now look forward to the remaining rounds with renewed optimism.
Eugene Laverty (Milwakee Aprilia) was on the pace from his first lap of the weekend, and even though his pace dropped off during Race 2, it was similar to that of the other bikes. The Irishman led from the start and was eventually rewarded with a third place finish, and an all important trophy. Afterwards Laverty said that “a monkey has been lifted from my back and I'm excited now.”
The former vice-champion has endured a barren streak over the past four years without a podium, but having made the breakthrough he'll be keen to keep finishing on the box. The Aprilia looked better in America with an improved rear grip, but Laverty will know that a step needs to be made at Misano to allow the team to repeat the feat.
“The problem with this bike is when the tyre starts to drop. When we lose just that little bit of grip, so I cannot stop. And when you can’t stop in the final braking, it also means you cannot turn and you spend more time on the side, so you can’t exit the corner.”
Making a step to find some improvement with this will be crucial, but in the upcoming round at Misano it will be intriguing to see if the progress made at Laguna Seca can be carried forward.
The Italian venue will be a home round for Ducati, and having made another step forward in their recovery from a mid-season blip the Italian manufacturer will be confident of a home success. It was 12 months ago at Misano where Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed his first victory for the team – as well as Italy’s 100th WorldSBK win - and his speed from Brno and Laguna Seca will give him some confidence of being able to challenge at the front again.
The Italian was fast in America but an ill-timed yellow flag in Superpole left him starting down the order. His weekend was thwarted by qualifying on the fourth row, but the speed that he and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) showed will leave them with confidence ahead of the team's home round.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Kawasaki may have done the double at Laguna Seca, but don't write their rivals off for the next round. All of which can be following with the WorldSBK VideoPass.