Motorcycle Racing News Ducati’s Davies Takes Charge at Laguna Seca SBK Friday

Ducati’s Davies Takes Charge at Laguna Seca SBK Friday

Laguna Seca SBK Friday Results

Ducati’s Davies Takes Charge at Laguna Seca SBK Friday
Ducati’s Chaz Davies

The Welshman who doubled at Laguna Seca World Superbike last season – Chaz Davies – wasted no time Friday getting up to speed.

The Aruba.it Ducati 1199 Panigale R pilot posted a 1:23.622 around the 2.32-mile circuit containing 11 corners – including the infamous Corkscrew – during free practice. To put this time into perspective, the WSBK lap record at Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway is a 1:21.811 set by Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team, 2014).

“We got off a good start. Being the quickest on Friday is always positive, but tomorrow and Sunday are more important,” Davies says. “We managed to find a good pace since the very first lap, and there’s still room for improvement, especially in terms of the overall balance of the bike. We’ll put on a fresher engine for tomorrow and probably we won’t need to change the setup too much for FP3 and Superpole, even though it will depend on track temperatures, which in the morning can drop quite a bit.”

Davies, who finished second in points last season behind World SBK Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team), earned the top position by a mere 0.074 of a second. The man second fastest? Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja pilot Rea, the current points leader.

Earning third quickest was the sole American in all of World SBK, Honda World Superbike Team’s Nicky Hayden. The CBR1000RR pilot was 0.244 of a second off the pace, and has much success at his home circuit; he earned his first-ever AMA race there in the former 750 class, and the 2005 and 2006 MotoGP races there, the latter was won en route to his only MotoGP title (Repsol Honda).

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When second 45-minute free practice sessions were complete Friday, the top 13 riders were within a second of each other, once again showing how tight the competition is this season.

Fourth went to Sykes, who struggled in the opening session. The 2013 World Superbike Champion finished ahead of the FP1 leader, Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes, and Davies’ teammate Davide Giugliano, who claimed the best lap at Laguna Seca in 2014 (under race conditions, 1:23.403). Last year Giugliano crashed hard at Laguna, so he’ll be looking to redeem himself.

Finishing seventh overall Friday was Althea BMW S1000RR pilot Jordi Torres, who finished ahead of IodaRacing Aprilia Lorenzo Savadori, a World Superbike rookie. Rounding out the top 10 were Barni Racing Ducati’s Xavi Fores and Pata Yamaha’s Niccolo Canepa, who is substituting for the injured Sylvain Guintoli.

The 24-rider World SBK grid returns to Laguna Seca Saturday for another free practice ahead of qualifying, which begins at 11:30 P.T. The first race follows at 2:30, and race 2 is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Photos by Ara Ashjian

2016 Laguna Seca World SBK Friday Practice – Photo Gallery

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Ron Lieback
Ron Lieback
One of the few moto journalists based on the East Coast, Ron Lieback joined the motorcycle industry as a freelancer in 2007, and is currently Online Editor at Ultimate Motorcycling. He is also the author of "365 to Vision: Modern Writer's Guide (How to Produce More Quality Writing in Less Time).

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