Jonathan Rea has taken his first ever victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, beating teammate Tom Sykes into P2 with Nicky Hayden coming through under pressure to take the final spot on the rostrum.
Tom Sykes got away in the lead from pole, with the Yorkshireman leading Ducati’s Chaz Davies, who got a superb start from the second row to end Lap 1 in P2, ahead of Sykes’ KRT teammate Jonathan Rea. With the front three close together and the second Aruba.it bike of Davide Giugliano leading Honda’s home hero Nicky Hayden in the chase, Davies took the lead with 21 to go with last year’s double winner looking to make it three in a row, before the Welshman pushed too hard on the front and slid off into the gravel at Turn 6, out of contention.
With Rea and Sykes closer to Giugliano after Davies’ crash, the reigning Champion then recovered from having gone slightly deep into the Corkscrew and began to put the hammer down. Rea, who has never won at Laguna Seca and was only 0.055 off the Superpole-winning time set by teammate Sykes, showed great pace all weekend at the Californian track and began to pull away from Sykes, until a mistake at the Corkscrew once more saw the Northern Irishman soon lose the lead and forced to do the work again. Rea eventually crossed the line over a second clear to take his first victory at the US track, with Sykes in P2 and another World Champion completing the podium in P3.
Kentucky Kid, MotoGP Legend and Honda World Superbike Team rider Hayden had warned against expecting miracles at his home venue, aware of the competition around him, but put in a superlative ride under pressure at home to come home in P3, adding another podium to his impressive rookie tally.
Hayden’s teammate, 2014 WorldSSP Champion Michael van der Mark, moved up from P11 on the grid to hunt down the frontrunners and cross the line P4 after taking IodaRacing’s Lorenzo Savadori and Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes in the latter stages of the race. Lowes crossed the line in P5 and Savadori, who had never ridden at Laguna Seca, put in an impressive rookie ride to come home in the top 6, ahead of Barni Racing’s Xavi Forés and Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres. Alex De Angelis on the second Aprilia and Niccolo Canepa on the second Pata Yamaha completed the top ten.
Leon Camier moved up one place from his starting position after an interrupted Friday to come home P11, ahead of Pedercini’s Anthony West and the Milwaukee BMW pairing of Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham. Roman Ramos completed the top 15 for Go ELEVEN.
“The best thing about today is winning the Race here in the USA where the passion is so high. It feels like I made some mistakes so I’m quite mad with myself – mostly in braking – so that’s something to look into tomorrow; trying to get a bike that’s more stable. Tom did a really good job in the beginning to make the pace but we seemed to have the best package today and I’m happy to have brought it home.”
“It was very easy to make a mistake and very windy. I think we did a good job at the beginning. I never felt comfortable with the rear traction but still we were able to make some good laps. I was able to regroup but I never quite had the package to fight with Jonathan. Credit where credit’s due and tomorrow we need to just find something with the package”.
“It feels really good to be on the podium. I’m not ecstatic with my race – I had hoped to be faster than that – but you know what? We got on the podium. So thanks to my team and all my supporters – this is for them of course. I hope to be able to put up a better fight tomorrow.”
WorldSBK Race 1:
1. Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team
2. Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team +0.819
3. Nicky Hayden Honda World Superbike Team +12.296
Championship Standings After Race 1:
Jonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Team 368
Tom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Team 297
Chaz Davies Aruba.it Racing – Ducati 244
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of Dorna WSBK Organization Srl