The eni FIM Superbike World Championship returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the first time in nine years. The a pre-event press conference involving some of the biggest names in World Superbike, the American wildcard riders, as well as representatives from the AMA Championship.
Josh Herrin and Cameron Beaubier (Monster Energy Graves Yamaha) were initially joined on stage by the Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki wildcard pairing of Roger Hayden and Danny Eslick, who spoke briefly ahead of the weekend’s track action.
WSBK regulars Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team), Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet), Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki), Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) took the stage to give their feelings of taking on the infamous Corkscrew, which for some of them is an unknown challenge.
Haslam, the only rider to have raced WSBK at Laguna before, is optimistic on his chances, given a new electronics package, and the fact that Honda took a double victory with Chris Vermeulen the last time the series was here.
Guintoli is still recovering from the shoulder injury that has affected his performance in recent races. He expects that the California track will be a tough challenge, as he is still in pain, with a much more spread out field.
Current Championship leader Tom Sykes is relishing the opportunity to make some Rossi/Marquez-stle moves on his rivals at the Corkscrew. He agrees that the racing may not be close.
Melandri has fond memories of Laguna Seca and hopes the track will suit his BMW well in order to make up some ground on the other championship challengers.
After the courageous attempt to ride in Istanbul, Badovini will try to race Laguna Seca, despite the injury, and with new parts for his Ducati 1199 Panigale R, he aims to perform well on a track that’s still new to him.
Jules Cluzel joined the press conference after the bicycle ride organized by his team. The Frenchman is keen on continuing his run of form and hopes that the laps completed on his Sony Playstation, together with the advice given to him by his one-off team mate Blake Young, will stand him in good stead.
World Superbike will be in action Friday morning at 11:45 PT for Free Practice, before a double qualifying session in the afternoon.
Photography by Ara Ashjian