The iconic Laguna Seca circuit in California plays host to Round 9 of the FIM Superbike World Championship this weekend. With the annual summer break following immediately afterwards, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK pairing of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark arrive in the United States determined to finish the first part of the season by adding to their points and podium tallies. The same is true of the two GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK riders, Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese, who are also looking to round out the first part of the season with a strong showing in America this weekend.
Lowes heads into the Laguna Seca weekend with his confidence high, after a successful home round at Donington Park just one week ago. The 28-year-old Briton only narrowly missed out on a podium finish in front of his home crowd, but two top five finishes saw him close the gap to his Pata Yamaha teammate in the championship standings. Lowes has the podium firmly in his sights this weekend at Laguna, a track at which he also finished on the podium twelve months ago.
Donington Park saw van der Mark return to action just ten days after undergoing surgery following a heavy practice crash in Misano. It was an incredible performance from the Pata Yamaha rider, who raced to three top-ten finishes in Great Britain to pick up vital championship points. Van der Mark heads into the Laguna Seca round confident that his injured wrist will not adversely affect his performance, as he targets the top five in America.
GRT Yamaha’s Marco Melandri heads to the United States for his first race weekend since announcing that he will retire at the end of the 2019 season. The veteran Italian, who has racked up 75 podium finishes and 22 race wins since making his WorldSBK debut with Yamaha in 2011, is aiming to end his final season on a high, starting this weekend at Laguna Seca.
Once again Cortese will be facing a steep learning curve this weekend, as it will be his first at Laguna Seca, where only the MotoGP class raced when the reigning Supersport World Champion was racing in Moto3 and Moto2. A strong start in free practice on Friday will be critical if Cortese is to achieve his goal of adding to his tally of top ten finishes in California.
The iconic WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca was originally built in 1957 and is located in Monterey County, Central California. Hosting its first WorldSBK race in 1995, it was a permanent fixture on the calendar until 2004, before making its return in 2013 and being ever-present since. It is 3.610km long, has 11 corners, four right and seven left-handed, breathtaking elevation changes of over 55m and, of course, features the infamous Corkscrew. It is only the WorldSBK class that races at Laguna Seca and the on-track action kicks off for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team on Friday at 10.30 local time for FP1, with both races taking place at 14.00 on Saturday and Sunday.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“Laguna Seca is an iconic circuit and one that is quite tight and technical but a lot of fun to ride. It has lots of changes of elevation, with the biggest coming as you drop down the infamous Corkscrew, which Is always a buzz when you get it right! The goal is to fight for the podium once again this weekend, to go into the summer break on a high note.”
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK
“it’s great to be back in the USA, especially when we got to race at such a fantastic circuit as Laguna Seca. My wrist has improved a lot even in the week since Donington and, while it’s still not back to full fitness, I’m looking forward to racing again this weekend. In Race 2 at Donington I felt that I could have fought for a top five finish if I’d had the grip, so that’s the goal here at Laguna Seca.”
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