Laguna Seca, USA
At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.
The season kicks off as always in Australia, the World Superbike and World Supersport classes headed to the Phillip Island circuit for the opener on 23rd of February. There follows another WSBK tradition: the interminable wait for round 2. In 2014, there are seven weeks between the first and second rounds, with the second event taking place at the Motorland Aragon circuit just outside of Alcañiz. The WSBK circus then takes off for a tour through Europe, heading to Assen, Imola and Donington Park, before heading overseas again to Sepang, and a Malaysian round. Two rounds in Europ follow, at Misano and Portimao, before the World Superbike class heads to Laguna Seca, taking the slot vacated by the MotoGP class.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams and organizer after the second WSBK race at Laguna Seca on Sunday:
The last world championship race of the weekend would prove as important for the title chase as was expected.
Press releases from the World Superbike teams after qualifying and the first race at Laguna Seca:
World Superbike at Laguna Seca was always going to be unusual, with a race on Saturday and the other a day later on Sunday. How unusual exactly was not expected. The bikes were finally wheeled into scrutineering over two hours after they were first put out on the grid.
Taking place at an earlier time than usual, to allow the AMA races and race one, to be held at the end of today, to fit the schedule. The short track, with laps under a minute and a half, allowed for plenty of attempts at setting a fast time.
Sylvain Guintoli continued to bring the fight to Tom Sykes, setting the fastest lap of the weekend, while Chaz Davies and Niccolo Canepa continued the pace they've been carrying all weekend.
World Superbike’s return to the iconic American track has a rather unusual schedule. A weekend without Superstock racing isn’t that unusual, but one without World Supersport, especially when the title is one point from being settled, is. Supported by the national AMA Superbike series, races are forced to run at unusual times, with three sessions today, including an hour-long extended timed qualifying session that allowed riders who have never seen the track before to get more familiar with its unique character. The first race is scheduled for the Saturday, instead of its usual Sunday slot, with the second race at the exact same time the following day.
Niccolo Canepa looked like he would hold onto provisional pole right up to the flag, but Marco Melandri stole it after the clock ran out. Tom Sykes and Sylvain Guintoli ended the session with under two tenths of a second separating them. Roger Lee Hayden was unable to record a time due to a technical issue, while Tomi Elias managed a few laps before his bike also retired.
Eugene Laverty took the top spot off Tom Sykes only to nearly lose it to Niccolo Canepa, Carlos Checa's replacement on the Ducati Panigale. The local pair that fared so well in the morning's free practice were under four tenths of a second slower than Laverty, back in eighth and ninth places.
The BMW duo of Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri posted the fastest times ahead of local Michael Jordan Motorsports riders Roger Lee Hayden and Danny Eslick. Two BMWs, two Suzukis, three Aprilias and a Kawasaki made up the top eight.
Press release previews from the World Superbike teams ahead of the US round at Laguna Seca:
Replacement Merry-Go-Round: Cudlin In For Hernandez, Scassa Replaces Abraham, Salom In For Baz, And WSBK Wildcards
As the end of the season approaches, the punishment which the riders have taken is starting to take its toll. With several riders out or moved, replacements are being sought to complete the season, or at least fill in for the next race.
In the MotoGP class, the knock on effect of Ben Spies' extended absence means that a vacancy arose at the PBM team. With Michele Pirro unable to race in the overseas triple header, dedicating himself to testing for the remainder of the year, Yonny Hernandez has been moved to the Ignite Pramac squad for the last five races of the year, as was announced after the Misano test. That meant that Hernandez' spot at PBM needed filling, preferably by a rider with some kind of Grand Prix experience. That rider has now been found, and Damian Cudlin is to take the place of Hernandez at the next round of MotoGP at Aragon. Whether Cudlin will continue at PBM after Aragon is yet to be determined. Cudlin has GP experience, having replaced Hector Barbera in 2011 at Motegi and Phillip Island. He has also raced both as a wildcard and as a replacement rider in Moto2.
The Istanbul Park round of World Superbikes proved to be particularly punishing. Carlos Checa fractured a hip, Ayrton Badovini hurt his ankle, and Leon Camier broke the bones in his right foot in seven places. Today, Crescent Suzuki announced that they would be replacing the injured Camier with American rider Blake Young for the US round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca.
Young is a logical choice for the Crescent Suzuki team. The Wisconsin native raced in the AMA Superbike series with a great deal of success, ending as runner up to series winner Josh Hayes in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He has a long association with Suzuki, and knows the track well. He is currently without a ride for this season, after being dropped in favor of Martin Cardenas at Yoshimura Suzuki. Young has so far featured in the three US rounds of MotoGP, riding the Attack Performance CRT machine as a wild card. His appearance at the Laguna Seca WSBK round means he will have the curious record of having raced in all four US rounds in both world championship series.
Below is the press release from the Crescent Suzuki team:
YOUNG JOINS FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI AT LAGUNA WSB
Team Suzuki Press Office - September 18.