Pata Honda aims high in USA
After racing last weekend at Portimao in Portugal, the Pata Honda World Superbike pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam heads directly to Laguna Seca in the US for next weekend’s (11-13 July) ninth-round races before going into an eight-week summer recess.
The World Superbike championship returned to the 3.610km Californian circuit last season for the first time since 2004, with this year’s visit marking the tenth anniversary of Chris Vermeulen’s double victory on his Ten Kate Racing Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade.
However, Jonathan Rea missed the return visit in 2013 as he recuperated from a broken femur sustained at the Nurburgring in Germany. Coming directly from his race two win in Portimao last Sunday, this will be the first time the 27-year-old from Northern Ireland has taken the current World Superbike specification Fireblade on to the undulating Laguna track.
Haslam showed the potential of the Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP during Superpole at Laguna Seca in 2013, but the British rider, 31, was unable to translate that into two good results in the races that straddled last year’s race weekend – race one on Saturday with the second outing on Sunday.
This year’s schedule reverts to a slightly revised but still more traditional raceday format, as follows:
I’m really looking forward to heading to circuit where I’ve not raced before. I think Laguna is going to be really exhilarating on the Pata Honda CBR and it’s no surprise that, with the infamous Corkscrew, it’s one of the most iconic circuits on the SBK calendar. I hope quickly to get over the disadvantage of having missed the race there last year through injury. Of course, we’re going there on the back of a win at Portimao which was really good for the morale of the team and it’s important that we try to carry that momentum into the summer break which comes after this weekend.
I enjoyed riding at Laguna last year and, although the race results weren’t so great, we did have one session when everything worked and came together OK in which we were quite competitive. I was happy with the progress that we made with different engine specification and chassis settings over the weekend in Portimao and I think that, when it’s dialled in, the CBR will really suit the special characteristics of Laguna Seca. So I’m looking forward to the weekend and to continuing the progress we’ve made.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-cordinator
It will be Leon’s second visit to Laguna with us and, although the races didn’t go to plan last year, he was able to show good potential over the weekend. I really hope we can continue with the good progress that we made with him last weekend in Portimao. Jonathan, of course, has not raced at Laguna because he had to miss last year’s race through injury. However, the circuit certainly has some elements that I think will suit him and his CBR. He’s a fast learner and we found a good new setting for him last weekend so I’m sure he’ll be looking to carry on where he left off in Portugal.