For the fourteenth time since it began, the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship will be staged at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, a track built in the namesake Californian town.
The bond between Monterey county and the motoring world dates back to the 1950s, when races were organised along public roads all around Laguna Seca, called Pebble Beach Road Races.
The high degree of danger posed by these roads - and the ensuing need to guarantee greater safety for its participants - led over the following years to the decision to build a dedicated facility designed to host motoring races reserved for both motorbikes and cars.
The choice fell on the military base of Fort Old, just a few kilometres away from the sun-kissed beaches of central California, where the track that is still used today for WSBK races was built, and inaugurated in 1957. It cost its founders - a group of local investors - around 1.5 million Dollars.
This 3,610 metre-long and 15 metre-wide circuit features 11 turns, 7 of which to the left and 4 to the right, including the famous Corkscrew, at Turns 8 and 8A: to be covered in an anti-clockwise direction, the track is strongly characterised by the continuous changes in direction and by the load transfers which engage both tyres.
This occurs especially due to the position of the circuit, built on the bank of a hill 250 metres above the level of the nearby Pacific Ocean, just a few kilometres away.
The current configuration of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca dates back to 1988, when the section between Turns 2 and 4 was built to meet the minimum length requirement for FIM homologation.
Certain modifications were made between 2005 and 2006, when work was carried out on the 'hump' just before the Corkscrew, additional runoff was provided through the extension of gravel pits and the embankments were replaced with an aim to make the track safer, thanks also to the widening of the main straight stretch.
Overtaking on the Laguna Seca circuit is a difficult task: indeed, there are very few places where overtaking can be successful, especially due to the special configuration of the track, which is packed with elevation changes and fast sections alternating with slower ones. These distinguishing features make the Californian circuit one of the most exciting tracks on the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship schedule: set along the slopes of the hills surrounding Monterey, it undergoes strong changes in the temperature of the asphalt surface between the morning sessions and the afternoon ones, which particularly concern the tyres, that are subjected to particularly strong stresses in the various sections of the track.
Laguna Seca became famous for The Corkscrew:comprising a blind crest and apex on the uphill approach covered at approximately 80 km/h, tyres here are required to change direction quickly on a counter slope, stressing the front tyre in particular, while the grip on the rear tyre may be challenged by the rapid load transfers.
Another challenging point of the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the short straight at the finishing line, where there are two light changes in direction and where a top speed of approximately 270 km/h is achieved, while a good run on turns 3 and 4 with proper tyre support makes for good lap times.
The last edition of the race saw the unchallenged dominance by Chaz Davies in both legs.
The Welsh rider managed to take the Panigale R onto the highest place on the podium, achieving a double title which had been lacking since 2012.
The standard-bearer of the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati SBK Team led race-1 from the first lap, crossing the finishing line over a second and a half ahead of Tom Sykes, who came second ahead of his team mate Jonathan Rea two seconds behind him.
The exact same podium layout turned out for race-2, with Davies first ahead of Sykes and Rea.
The medium-high temperatures of July led the riders to opt for a very soft tyre capable of providing a better grip: the choice fell on the Diablo™ Superbike SC0, used by almost every rider in race-1 and by the entire line-up in race-2. This is a tyre that is available for sale, used in the best races and an indication of the superior quality of the products and, most of all, of their versatility of use in various conditions.