Laguna Seca SBK 2015 Preview

Laguna Seca SBK 2015 Preview - Can Anyone Stop Rea?
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea

Following a four-week summer break since Misano, the 2015 World Superbike Championship continues this weekend with the only US circuit on the calendar – Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.

Set on the Pacific Coast of Central California, Laguna Seca will host round nine of 13 in the 2015 SBK Championship. This is the 13th time SBK will occur at Laguna Seca. The 2.2-mile track known for its famed Corkscrew hosted World SBK for 10-straight years (1995-2004) before returning to the calendar in 2013.

Before Laguna Seca, World Superbike battles were held at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota (1989-1991) and Miller Motorsports Park in Utah (2008-2012). Another interesting fact? Laguna Seca is the fourth and final race of 2015 SBK to feature an anti-circuit layout, including Phillip Island, Motorland Aragon and Imola.

Jonathan Rea – on  a charge ahead of Laguna Seca SBK 2015

All eyes will be on one rider at Laguna Seca SBK 2015 – Kawasaki Racing Team’s Jonathan Rea. The Northern Irishman, who joined Kawasaki after six years on Honda CBR machinery in World SBK, has won 11 of 16 races so far, and finished second in the other five races.

Due to this, he has garnered 375 points. Rea leads teammate Tom Sykes by 133 points, and is 146 ahead of Aprilia Racing Team’s Leon Haslam.

Rea has never won at Laguna Seca, or four others featured on the upcoming 2015 World SBK schedule – Sepang, Jerez, Magny-Cours and Losail. Including last season, Rea has finished on the podium 17-consecutive times. The only other rider to complete a longer stretch of successive podiums was the Texan Colin Edwards, who earned 25.

Laguna Seca SBK 2015 Preview - Can Anyone Stop Rea? Tom Sykes
Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes

Rea can possibly beat this record, and if he gets another seven race wins before the conclusion of 2015 SBK, he could beat Doug Polen’s record of 17-race wins in a single season – a record that was set back in 1991.

But Rea’s luck is not so good at Laguna. He explains: “I had to sit out the races in 2013 due to injury, while last year I made a silly mistake during Superpole and crashed. It’s a difficult track to pass but with the red flags I ended up being on the podium in Race Two, which was good.

“That weekend proved how critical qualifying is for the outcome of the two Sunday races, so we need to make sure to work methodically through the weekend, as we always do, although with a bit more emphasis on Superpole. We could have done more in Misano, too, but the gap was only 0.2 seconds to pole position. We definitely need to be on the front row at Laguna.”

Rea’s Biggest Threats at Laguna Seca SBK 2015 – Sykes, Halsam & Davies

Rea’s biggest threat at Laguna Seca SBK 2015 will be from his teammate, 2013 World Superbike Champion Tom Sykes. The Brit is the only rider on the grid to have won at Laguna Seca, earning a race win in 2013 and 2014. If either Ninja ZX-10R pilot is victorious, Kawasaki will equal Yamaha’s record of 74 World SBK wins.

Laguna Seca SBK 2015 Preview - Can Anyone Stop Rea? Aprilia's Leon Haslam
Aprilia’s Leon Haslam

Another threat arrives from Aprilia’s Leon Haslam, who after starting race one will become one of nine riders to achieve 200 World SBK starts. If he starts race two, he will equal his fellow British compatriot James Toseland’s record of 201. The only other Brit to have more starts is Carl Fogarty with 219.

The top Ducati pilot so far in 2015 World Superbike is Aruba.it Racing-Ducati SBK Team’s Chaz Davies, who like his teammate Davide Giugliano has earned second at Laguna Seca. Ducati recently concluded three days of testing with 2011 World SBK Champion Carlos Checa at Mugello in hopes of further refining the 1199 Panigale R. Ducati is also the most successful manufacturer at Laguna Seca, winning there nine times.

Davies enters Laguna Seca SBK 2015 with 213 points, 167 behind Rea. The next closest rider is Aprilia’s Jordi Torres, who is in fifth with 140 points. As SBK heads to Laguna, 250 points are still available. Rea can possibly secure his first-ever World SBK title this weekend, but there’s too many variables at play ahead of Laguna Seca.

Laguna Seca SBK 2015 TV Schedule

beIN Sports will broadcast both races live on Sunday, July 19. Race one starts at 2:30 p.m. ET, and race two at 5:30 p.m. ET.

Laguna Seca SBK 2015 Preview Photo Gallery