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Sep 28, 2013

eni FIM Superbike World Championship Race One Results From Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The race was red flagged and restarted twice.

The first red flag was brought out after Roger Hayden crashed in Turn Five. A section of air fence impacted in that incident was damaged and needed to be replaced before the race could continue.

A second red flag was brought out when Leon Haslam and Roger Hayden both crashed separately in Turn Four and oil was found on the racetrack.

Eslick, Haslam and Hayden were unable to continue.

Niccolo Canepa's lowside crash in Turn 11 on lap seven did not cause a red flag.

The race was decided in a 12-lap final segment.

eni FIM Superbike World Championship
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
Monterey, California
September 28, 2013
Provisional Race One Results (all on Pirelli tires):

1. Tom Sykes, UK (Kawasaki ZX-10R), 12 laps, 16:55.703
2. Chaz Davies, UK (BMW S1000RR), -1.253 seconds
3. Eugene Laverty, Ireland (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), -2.454
4. Marco Melandri, Italy (BMW S1000RR), -2.650
5. Sylvain Guintoli, France (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), -3.430
6. Davide Giugliano, Italy (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), -3.584
7. Jules Cluzel, France (Suzuki GSX-R1000), -9.134
8. Toni Elias, Spain (Aprilia RSV4 Factory), -11.252
9. Ayrton Badovini, Italy (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), -14.140
10. Mark Aitchison, Australia (Kawasaki ZX-10R), -17.830
11. David Salom, Spain (Kawasaki ZX-10R), -18.010
12. Blake Young, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), -21.767
13. Michel Fabrizio, Italy (Honda CBR1000RR), -22.087
14. Federico Sandi, Italy (Kawasaki ZX-10R), -32.837
15. Vittorio Iannuzzo, Italy (BMW S1000RR), -34.267
16. Glenn Allerton, Australia (BMW S1000RR), -50.167
17. Roger Hayden, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF, crash
18. Leon Haslam, UK (Honda CBR1000RR), DNF, crash
19. Niccolo Canepa, Italy (Ducati 1199 Panigale R), DNF, crash
20. Danny Eslick, USA (Suzuki GSX-R1000), DNF, crash

More, from a press release issued by SBK Press Office:

Tom Sykes extends Championship lead after Race 1 win

Laguna Seca (US), Saturday 28 September 2013 – Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) has won Race 1 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, which was eventually contested over 12 laps, rather than the scheduled 26 due to two red flags, caused by the crashes sustained firstly by Danny Eslick (Michael Jordan Motorsports Suzuki) and then by his team mate Roger Hayden.

The works Kawasaki rider took the lead on the tenth lap thanks to an outstanding overtaking manoeuvre at Turn 11, after a side-by-side downhill ride with Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet). The Championship leader then rode comfortably to win the race, while Marco Melandri lost some ground after trying to pass his team mate Davies at Turn 5 and then, on the final lap, lost third place courtesy of a superb pass by Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) at the "Corkscrew".

Tom Sykes: “It was hard having three starts but it ended up good for us with a race win. Sylvain (Guintoli) and I came together at the entry to turn one off the start and our contact pushed my brake lever down from its normal position. That was a bit awkward to deal with for a little while but I got my head around it. I was pushing to stay with the BMW guys up front for a while but in the end it was a good race for us. Another race tomorrow so that is what I am thinking about now.”

Laverty's team mate Sylvain Guintoli ended up fifth, a frustrating result for the Frenchman who was comfortably in the lead in each of the two interrupted races. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Aprilia) claimed sixth place, ahead of Jules Cluzel (FIXI Crescent Suzuki), Toni Elias (Red Devils Aprilia), Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) and Mark Aitchison (Team Pedercini Kawasaki).

Potential podium contender Niccolò Canepa (Team Ducati Alstare) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike) could not line-up for the final restart of the race after crashing out in the second part. Both are thankfully uninjured as well as Eslick and Hayden, who should line up on the grid for tomorrow's second outing.

Thanks to his seventh win of the season, Sykes extends his lead to 22 points over Guintoli and 35 on Laverty, while Melandri is now 45 points short from the top rival.

Results: 1. Sykes (Kawasaki) 12 Laps/43.320 km in 16'55.703 average 153.541 kph; 2. Davies (BMW) 1.253; 3. Laverty (Aprilia) 2.454; 4. Melandri (BMW) 2.650; 5. Guintoli (Aprilia) 3.430; 6. Giugliano (Aprilia) 3.584; 7. Cluzel (Suzuki) 9.134; 8. Elias (Aprilia) 11.252; 9. Badovini (Ducati) 14.140; 10. Aitchison (Kawasaki) 17.830; 11. Salom (Kawasaki) 18.010; 12. Young (Suzuki) 21.767; 13. Fabrizio (Honda) 22.087; 14. Sandi (Kawasaki) 32.837; 15. Iannuzzo (BMW) 34.267; 16. Allerton (BMW) 50.167.

Standings after Race 1: 1. Sykes 348; 2. Guintoli 326; 3. Laverty 313; 4. Melandri 303; 5. Davies 259; 6. Baz 180; 7. Rea 176; 8. Fabrizio 171; 9. Cluzel 150; 10. Giugliano 149; 11. Camier 114; 12. Badovini 114; 13. Neukirchner 84; 14. Checa 80; 15. Haslam 78; 16. Sandi 47; 17. Elias 29; 18. Aitchison 26; 19. Iannuzzo 26; 20. Clementi 18; 21. Canepa 11; 22. Lundh 10; 23. Lai 8; 24. Reiterberger 7; 25. Allerton 6; 26. Salom 5; 27. Uprak 5; 28. Young 4; 29. Smrz 4; 30. Stauffer 4; 31. Ercelik 3; 32. Akiyoshi 2; 33. Haga 2. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 435; 2. Kawasaki 402; 3. BMW 374; 4. Honda 219; 5. Suzuki 202; 6. Ducati 151; 7. Yamaha 4.

More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:

A very positive race day for Davide Giugliano and team Althea at Laguna Seca

Superpole and Race 1 of this twelfth round of the World Superbike championship took place today at the Mazda Raceway in Laguna Seca, USA. Yesterday team Althea Racing and its rider Davide Giugliano made a great start to the weekend. Davide improved with each exit he made and qualified for today’s Superpole in seventh position. Team Althea Racing went out on track this morning to take part in the second free practice session, a last chance to make changes to the set-up of their RSV4 in preparation for the Superpole and subsequent first race. In the free practice which took place in dry but cool conditions (16 degrees), Davide (1.24”467) obtained eighth position.

The twelfth Superpole of the season took place in the late morning. In phase one Giugliano immediately recorded a good time and, ducking under the 1’24 barrier (1’23”818), he closed in ninth place, progressing to phase two, in which the Althea rider improved even further. With a time of 1’23”470 he finished in seventh place, qualifying for the third and final session. In this deciding phase, Davide gave it his all and stopped the clock at 1’23”353. Sixth place and a second row start for him in the two 26-lap races that will take place today and tomorrow at Laguna Seca.

Race one got underway at 2pm local time. Davide Giugliano made a good start and positioned himself in the front group, in fifth position, but during the course of lap seven the race was redflagged due to a crash that damaged an air fence. A new 20-lap race began and the Althea rider again made a rapid start, lapping fourth in the early stages. During lap nine the race was again stopped after three riders crashed, leaving oil on track. The race, now 12 laps in length, was started once more and Davide again got away well, able to stick with the front group, the only privateer among the factory bikes, lapping in sixth place. Giugliano was able to keep pace with the factory riders and closed the race in final sixth position. A great result for the Althea rider who was able to keep contact with the fastest riders in what was a difficult race run in three stages. Race two will take place tomorrow afternoon at the same track.

Davide Giugliano: “It went fairly well today. We were able to stay very close to the factory riders leading the race and at times we were even in front of them and this is a very positive thing. We still need to do some work to regain confidence in our abilities but I think that all things considered sixth place is a good result. Today I’ve also worked with my team to find something that could give us extra help in tomorrow’s race. Today was surely a difficult race, with all the restarts, but we were able to understand a lot of things that can be useful to us. We’re still needing a little more in order to be able to stick with the factory guys but for the moment I’m pleased, also because we were the only privateer team to be consistently up at the front”.

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

Sykes Wins Opening Laguna Race!

WSBK, Laguna Seca, USA, 29 September 2013

Tom Sykes won the first race he has ever competed in at Laguna Seca on the USA, taking a full point score in a final 12-lap contest that was stopped a restarted twice. David Salom (KRT) was 11th.

The Laguna round already featured an unusual format of one race today (Saturday) and then the second one planned for Sunday, rather than then the normal fashion of having both traces on the same day. The return of SBK racing to the 3.610km American track for the first time since 2004, however, had some surprises of its own thrown in on the opening day.

Race One was scheduled for 26 laps but after a rider fell and his bike punctured the inflatable track safety barrier the first attempt at the race was stopped with only six laps gone. A second start only lasted eight laps of the planned 20, when three riders fell at the same corner and the red flags came out for the second time.

Tom and his team had made small but important adjustments to take on the final challenge of a third race – the only one which would count today – and over 12 laps Sykes proved unbeatable. He had qualified second on the grid after Superpole, which was held earlier today in its usual three phase format.

Sykes won race one by a final 1’253 seconds after a classic game of wait and pounce. He passed long time leader Chaz Davies with two laps to go and pushed hard from that point on, taking a confident victory as the following riders found no answer to his late attack. He also set a new lap record, of 1'23.803, on lap two.

He now takes a 22-point advantage, over championship second place rider Sylvain Guintoli, into the second race of the weekend on Sunday 29th. This was Tom’s seventh race win of 2013.

Supersport World Championship rider David Salom replaced team regular Loris Baz at this round and he narrowly missed out on Superpole qualifying, going 16th off the grid. After a poor start in the final leg, he pushed on to finish 11th on the race - despite hitting a plastic trackside marker with his left knuckles at the super-fast turn one.

Mark Aitchison had a great ride to tenth on his Kawasaki team Pedercini Ninja ZX-10R earning six valuable points, while his team-mate Federico Sandi scored two points for 14th place today.

The teams have it all to do again on Sunday, for what is scheduled to be a 26-lap race.

Tom Sykes: “It was hard having three starts but it ended up good for us with a race win. Sylvain Guintoli was riding really strong but when it counted, in the last of the three legs of the race, he had a bit of an issue. We came together at the entry to turn one off the start and our contact pushed my brake lever down from its normal position. That was a bit awkward to deal with for a little while but I got my head around it. I think the short race may have favoured some of our competitors and the BMW guys were really fast out of the traps. I was pushing to stay with those guys for a while but in the end it was a good race for us and it played out well for myself and the Ninja ZX-10R. Another race tomorrow so that is what I am thinking about now.”

David Salom: “My race was not so bad but I hit my left hand on the trackside plastic marker – the small orange cones - and I have a lot of pain in my finger! My start was not good but in each of the three races I was a bit better. I fought with Atchison and Fabrizio but three laps before the end I hit the track marker and then I had to slow down. Each session I have been feeling better on the bike. I am still trying to stop using Supersport lines and approach to the laps because you have to ride the Superbike in a very different way, but I am learning.”

More, from a press release issued by Team SBK Ducati Alstare:

A day of highs and lows for Team SBK Ducati Alstare today at Laguna Seca

Monterey (USA), Saturday 28 September 2013: it proved to be a trying day for Team SBK Ducati Alstare at the Laguna Seca Mazda Raceway today; after qualifying in fourth position on the grid, substitute rider Niccolò Canepa crashed out of the race while injured Ayrton Badovini finished in a valiant ninth position.

Riders once again enjoyed dry and sunny conditions today at the Californian track of Laguna Seca. Team SBK Ducati Alstare used the morning’s final free practice session to make last-minute set-up changes ahead of the Superpole and Race 1. Niccolò consolidated yesterday’s strong performance, completing a series of fast laps and closing practice in fourth place (1’23.9), while Ayrton finished eleventh with a time of 1’24.6.

Superpole – in the first phase Canepa immediately set a very fast 1’23.5 with which he positioned fifth, progressing easily to session two. Badovini needed to make a second exit with his first qualifying tyre, recording a 1’23.9 which placed him eleventh. In Superpole 2 Niccolò closed sixth having made only one timed lap while Ayrton used his second qualifying tyre to take the ninth fastest time. In the third and final session, and with no qualifying tyre left to use, Ayrton closed in ninth place with a time of 1’24.7. Niccolò, having saved both qualifiers for this all-important session, ducked under the 1’23 barrier to record an impressive 1’22.8; missing out on a front row spot by just one tenth of a second, he qualified in fourth place (second row) for the weekend’s two 26-lap races.

Race 1 – the riders were lying seventh (Canepa) and thirteenth (Badovini) when, on lap six, a crash for one of the wildcards caused damage to a section of air-fence, causing the race to be red-flagged. In the restarted race, Niccolò moved into eleventh place, with Ayrton in thirteenth. Unfortunately after six laps Canepa suffered a fall, losing the front of his bike, and was unable to continue. A second red flag was waved minutes later when another rider crashed, leaving oil on the track. In a restarted (12 lap) race, Badovini started from ninth position. Battling briefly with Cluzel and then Elias, the Ducati Alstare man held ninth for the best part of the race and, despite the pain in his ankle, crossed the line in that same position, earning valuable championship points in the process.

Ayrton Badovini: “I’m pleased on the one hand because in the final race I was able to make my best lap, so it was going a little better than in the first two ‘heats’ but unfortunately I’m really paying physically at this track. As I can’t push with my foot, I’m having to compensate with my arms and after eight or nine laps I just can’t keep the pace up. I’d been to the Clinica Mobile for painkilling injections prior to the race but I was still suffering during the race. Anyway we’ve done what we could today. We’ll see what we can do tomorrow but the way I’m feeling right now I think I’ll really struggle to make 26 consecutive laps.”

Niccolò Canepa: “Unfortunately I was having a little trouble in the first ‘heat’ and this meant that we started further back in the second. In trying to make up lost ground I unfortunately made a mistake and fell, losing the front. We’d made a small change to try and improve the bike but it didn't have the desired result, perhaps the heat also affected the performance of the front of the bike. Tomorrow we’ll make another change and hopefully I’ll be able to put together a good race.”

More, from a press release issued by Pata Honda Superbike Team:

Difficult first race at Laguna Seca

The first race of the 12th round World Superbike championship event at Laguna Seca in the USA today proved to be a difficult one for the riders in general with two red flags leading to a final 12-lap sprint.

The race was won by series leader Tom Sykes with Pata Honda rider Michel Fabrizio unable to finish higher than 13th. The Italian rider cited front grip problems on his CBR machine and hopes for improvement in tomorrow’s (Sunday) second outing.

His team-mate Leon Haslam had an even more frustrating day after an improvement in his set-up allowed him to set his fastest lap of the weekend in Superpole 1 this morning. However, technical issues prevented the 30-year-old from completing a lap in Superpole 2 and he was forced to start from 12th place on the grid.

Further sensor issues manifested themselves in the first part of the race but, with a new front tyre for the second part, Haslam, too suffered from front grip problems and crashed out on lap six. He injured the left leg that he broke at Assen in the Netherlands earlier this season but expects to be able to take part in race two tomorrow.

Michel Fabrizio – 13th

It’s been a very strange day because this morning in free practice and in Superpole I was happy and I had a good feeling with the bike. My starting position was not good but I was looking forward to the race. I don’t know what happened because we didn’t change anything for the race. The track temperature was maybe a little higher but I had very big problems with grip at the front. We are looking through the data now to see if we can find the problem, but I hope it will be better tomorrow.

Leon Haslam – DNF

I think my time in Superpole 1, on a race tyre, would’ve set me the fastest lap of the race, and a 20-lap run in free practice was good, too. So we’ve made some good progress to achieve pace but the race was a disaster again. We had a traction control problem in the first part, which was a bit strange, but in part two I had zero grip from the front from lap one. I was losing the front three or four times a lap and eventually it put me down. Roger Lee Hayden went down straight after me and thought there was oil on the track but I had an issue in that area anyway. Again, it’s one of those things: no issue with the front all weekend and then a massive issue in the race. The leg is a little sore with ligament and muscle pain but I’ll ice it up tonight and we’ll be all right tomorrow.

Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator

It was quite a hectic day and we had two red flags in the first race of the weekend. Leon had a technical issue in Superpole and we are really sorry that he was not able to improve his position. We had some other small issues in the race but the red flag allowed us to solve them. He then crashed because of a lack of front grip which was really strange and we’re looking at settings and tyres now just to see what happened. Michel also had a difficult day and after the first red flag we opted for a different front tyre to look for more grip but in the second half it dropped really fast and left him with no grip and a bike that was difficult to turn. We’ll have to see if we can come up with a better setting for tomorrow and try again.

More, from a press release issued by BMW Motorrad Motorsport:

Laguna Seca – Superpole & Race 1.
Saturday, 28th September 2013.

Weather conditions: Sunny.
Temperature: Air: 22 – 27 °C, Track: 22 – 42 °C
Number of riders participating: 20 from 12 teams
Fastest lap Superpole 3: Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) 1:22.683 min
Fastest lap Race 1: Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 1:23.803 min (lap 2)

The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team finished a long and turbulent Saturday at Laguna Seca (USA) on the podium. Factory rider Chaz Davies (GBR) claimed second in today’s first race of the US round of the 2013 FIM Superbike World Championship. His team-mate Marco Melandri (ITA) missed the podium narrowly, finishing fourth with his BMW S 1000 RR. The race had to be red-flagged twice as air-fences had been damaged by crashed motorcycles. When the race was finally underway, both BMW riders were fighting for the victory. A different schedule for Laguna Seca saw the first race contested on Saturday, race two will take place tomorrow on Sunday.

Saturday started with a free practice and the Superpole qualifying in the late morning. Chaz and Marco qualified fifth and seventh on the grid respectively. At the start of the race, both of them gained positions, with Marco improving to third and Chaz to fourth. On lap two, the Welshman overtook his team-mate and on the following lap he set a new lap record. But on lap eight, the race was red-flagged for the first time. For the re-start, the grid was formed by the results of the last contested lap, meaning that Chaz started from third and Marco from fifth. This time, Marco improved to third, while Chaz slipped back to fifth when the lights went out. But the Welshman fought his way back and was third again directly in front of Marco after seven laps. On lap nine, the red-flag was waved again. After another break, the riders went out on the grid for the third attempt to complete the race which was shortened to 12 laps.

Chaz was third on the grid again, Marco now started from fourth. The BMW duo initially stormed to the front, with Chaz taking the lead and Marco improving to second. After six laps, the two RRs were still in first and second positions, but Tom Sykes (GBR) was pushing from behind. He overtook Marco on lap seven to take second. Chaz defended his lead until the tenth lap when he lost out to Sykes. But this did not mean the excitement was over. In the final stages of the race, both Chaz and Marco chased Sykes, fighting for the win. Chaz saw the chequered flag in second. Marco also was on course to the podium, entering the final lap in third position but the Italian then dropped back to fourth when he was passed by Eugene Laverty (IRL) in the “Corkscrew”. In the Riders’ classification, Marco is currently fourth with 303 points, followed by Chaz who is fifth with 259 points. In the Manufacturers’ ranking, BMW lies in third with 374 points. The second race of the US round will start tomorrow at 14:00 local time.

Chaz Davies:
Fastest lap FP: 1:23.790 min (P3) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:23.040 min (P5)
Result Race 1: 2nd / Gap to 1st: 0:01.253 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:23.852 min (lap 2)
“Second place is a good result; I am pretty happy. To be on the podium at Laguna is always great. At the second re-start, I made a great start to take the lead. For the rest of the race I was just trying to keep my head down and did whatever I could to stay in front. But it was difficult, from mid-race on I was struggling with the front and it was pretty slippery. I did not feel that I had the bike that I had in the cooler conditions this morning. There I was really happy with the bike; it was working great. I was able to do 1:23 laps on a really used tyre but in the race, the bike was a bit more nervous and harder to ride. We will address that tonight and try to improve it for tomorrow. For the second race I hope to have another great start and then we will see what is possible then.”

Marco Melandri:
Fastest lap FP: 1:24.167 min (P5) / Fastest lap Superpole 3: 1:23.363 min (P7)
Result Race 1: 4th / Gap to 1st: 0:02.650 min / Fastest Lap Race 1: 1:23.819 min (lap 2)
“Today’s race was closely fought, unfortunately with a negative outcome for me. The two red-flags in some ways helped me because in the first two parts of the race I could not go as fast as I wanted. Then, before the third start, we made some changes and finally I had a good speed. I started quite well; I had a good race pace and I wanted to be in front. Unfortunately on this track it is very difficult to overtake. I tried it in every way but I did not succeed. With this result we have lost important points and I am sorry for that. Tomorrow we will see what will happen in race two.”

Serafino Foti (Sport Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
“Today’s race was influenced by the two red-flags and in a way we benefitted from these interruptions. In the break after the second red-flag we were able to make changes that allowed Marco to be fast and to have a good rhythm. Unluckily Marco was passed during the last lap so we lost some important points for the championship. It was a manoeuvre which we felt was a bit close to the limit. Chaz did a very good race. He started very well, was fast and achieved a very good second place on the podium. Mathematically, everything is possible in the championship, even if it will be quite difficult. But we will see what will happen in tomorrow’s second race.”

Andrea Dosoli (Technical Director BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team):
“We are pleased with the work done by both crews and both riders. We have further improved the performance of our machine on this track. As a result, both riders were able to fight for the win today. Chaz did a good job achieving another podium. Marco was not lucky during the final lap but he will have the next chance in the second race tomorrow. From the technical aspect we have suffered a bit with the hotter conditions in the race, when the track temperature went over 40 degrees Celsius and this is the point where we want to improve for tomorrow. We will analyse the data and try to understand if the track conditions will be the same. We will do the necessary adjustments to the bikes to be best prepared for race two.”

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:


FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer Jules Cluzel finally took an impressive seventh place finish in today's first eni FIM Superbike World Championship race at Laguna Seca in America at the third time of asking following two race stoppages

The new World Superbike timetable meant that a race was run on a Saturday at this event in America and it turned out that it became even more eventful than scheduled as the 26-lap race had three starts following a series of incidents that caused two red-flags. Race one was stopped after six completed laps when a bike crashed into the safety barrier,

causing a puncture in one of the air fences that surrounds the 3,610m Laguna Seca circuit. The race was stopped and a re-start ordered for the remaining 20-laps. This too was then red-flagged for a similar incident, leading to a third start that would be over 12-laps. Cluzel began the race from eighth on the grid - the position he occupied when the previous race was stopped - and by lap-three he had moved up to seventh, but in those first couple of laps he had lost a lot of time and was unable to close the gap on the top-six. He rode a lonely race for the remaining laps, but kept a steady and consistent pace to consolidate his position and believes the data he gathered from today's truncated race will help him in tomorrow's 26-lap event.

Blake Young gave a good account of himself on his FIXI Crescent Suzuki debut, as a replacement rider for the injured Leon Camier. Young was able to benefit from the stoppages as it enabled him to continue to make small adjustments to his machine and get more opportunities of race-starting his Suzuki GSX-R. In the third version of race one, Young started from 13th on the grid - and improvement on his qualifying position of 17th - and then chased-down and passed the Factory Honda mounted Superbike regular Michel Fabrizio to move into 12th place, a position he held to the flag.

Young was pleased with his efforts and believes that today will give him more confidence ahead of Sunday's race.
Today's proceedings took place in brilliant sunshine under clear blue skies with air temperatures rising to 27°C. Kawasaki's Tom Sykes took the victory to increase his lead at the top of the championship. Tomorrow will see the second race of the weekend get underway at 14.00hrs local time (22.00hrs BST), when both the FIXI Crescent Suzuki boys will be looking to make further improvements and push for better results.

Jules Cluzel:

"In this morning's Superpole we improved the feeling of the bike quite a lot and the only problem that I had in the three sessions was that I had no qualifying tyre for the final session, so I couldn't push to improve my time. The qualifiers didn't actually work that well for us and I did my fastest lap-time with a race tyre anyway. I was quite happy, but still had some questions about where we could improve, but the good thing about today was the three starts for the race because we were able to try different things each time. In the first part it was not very good and I was not really happy, but in race two we improved the lap-times and things felt easier, although I was losing the front a lot, so in the third outing we improved that, but it made some other problems for us! We do have some good data now and I think we can improve more tomorrow. I lost maybe two-seconds in the first two-laps of the final race - maybe more - and I couldn't catch the first group, but I didn't lose any more time to the guys that were in front of me, I could still see them so I was happy with that. I think we have some good things to improve and that these won't be too difficult to improve on."

Blake Young:

"As the guys in the team would say 'it was quite lovely today!' Seriously though it has been a great experience and I'm happy to be out on the racetrack on the FIXI Crescent Suzuki GSX-R - I feel at home on it already. The race worked out more in my favour than it probably ever could have with all the red flags. You never like to see them because it means that people could possibly be hurt, but it seemed like all the guys got up and were fine. Those red flags gave us time to make adjustments to the bike and with every one we made the motorcycle better. I was so happy with the job the crew did today and I can't thank them enough. All the guys here on the team would obviously like a better result - and so would I - but we'll take 12th today and see if we can improve on it tomorrow."

Paul Denning - Team Manager:

"Today was the first time that World Superbikes tried the Saturday race format and it was certainly eventful! Both of our guys did very solid jobs in all three of the race starts and it worked well for Blake who had the opportunity to stop and consider the setting on the GSX-R and how he could adapt it further to suit his style as he became more familiar with the bike.

"The final result of seventh for Jules was well deserved and for a Superbike rookie on his first visit to Laguna, the team is very pleased with his efforts. We're only missing a tiny amount to be able to run with the top-six group and hope we can work on the setting and maybe the tyre choice to make the bike a bit easier for him. Based on the potential Jules showed today we'll give it the very best shot we can."

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:



Laguna Seca, 28 September 2013 – The “unusual” Saturday at Laguna Seca, with Superpole and Race 1 on the same day, came to a decidedly exciting finish. In Superpole Sylvain Guintoli finished ahead of the rest for the first time this year, followed in third place by team mate Eugene Laverty who suffered a harmless crash. Considering the pace the two Aprilia riders had demonstrated, all the signs leading up to Race 1 were encouraging.

At the start Sylvain took control immediately, creating a gap in front of his nearest rivals within a few laps, while in the pursuing pack it seemed like Eugene would be able to make up ground and fight for the podium.

However, the red flag came out in the seventh lap because of a deflated air fence which had been damaged by a crash. So there was a restart with the race reduced to 20 laps and everyone seemed to be following the same script: Sylvain in front of the rest, fast and focused, with Eugene riding for a podium finish. But hard luck nipped any chance at running away in the bud when the second red flag of the day came out for the same reason.

When the red lights went off for the third time, with the race shortened even further, Sylvain Guintoli got tangled up in the bottleneck on the first turn, losing positions and having to fight his way back. On a narrow and technical track like Laguna Seca overtaking is quite demanding and the reduced race length (12 laps) wiped out all the work that had been done during the test sessions on tyre wear and pace. This gave the less prepared riders from this point of view an advantage.

In the exciting final laps Sylvain had to give up a few positions and settle for a fifth place finish, a result that definitely betrays the potential of his RSV4 on the Californian track. Eugene Laverty rode an excellent race, grabbing the third step of the podium away from his rivals with a spectacular pass on the “corkscrew” in the last lap.

This places Guintoli in second place in the rider standings at 22 points from the leader, followed by Laverty at 35 points from the top. Aprilia continues to dominate in the Manufacturer standings lead, where they have been since the first round at Phillip Island, with a 33 point advantage in front of Kawasaki, 61 ahead of BMW, 216 in front of Honda, 233 above Suzuki and 284 over Ducati.

Eugene Laverty: “This was one of the most difficult races of my career. During the practice sessions we worked well, but the track conditions during the last of the three race starts were quite different than they were yesterday. I struggled to stay in the lead pack. Toward the end I gained a bit confidence and was able to get onto the podium with two passes... with my eyes closed! I want to thank my team because after the crash in Superpole they really worked hard to get my RSV4 up and running. Now I'm focused on tomorrow's race which looks like it will be just as heated as today's.”

Sylvain Guintoli: “I'm definitely disappointed. We went from dominating Superpole and the first two starts to struggling to finish in fifth place. The end result doesn't do us justice. I had the right pace and serenity to win this race. Unfortunately being in the pack is not like riding out front - everything becomes more difficult. You can't follow your own lines and that takes away from your pace. In fact, I wasn't able to make the same times as before. It's a shame because this was a weekend where we could have taken home some important points, but we'll be sure to make up for it tomorrow!”
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