I’ve just spent the last three days shuffling around in my car, so apologies for the delay, but here is my final installment of photos (don’t miss Friday & Saturday too) from the World Superbike round at Laguna Seca, which were taken during Sunday’s warm-up session.
I caught the riders at Turn 11, the slow left-hander that brings them onto the front straight, hoping to get a particular shot where their bodies would be in transition back into the saddle, while the bike would also be power-wheeling out of the turn.
In other words, I have quite a few different takes on the same scene, which might be visually a bit boring. What is interesting though is the subtle details from rider to rider.
For instance, it was noticeable to see Jake Gagne struggling with the bucking Honda CBR1000RR SP2, which seemed much more apt to loft the front wheel, due to having more rudimentary electronics. Conversely, the Ducatis and Kawasakis were well in control, slowly lifting and never getting out of shape.
How the riders deal with these differences is of note as well, so take notice of the body positioning, especially with where their butts are in the saddle. Interesting stuff. Until next year, and thanks for viewing.
Saturday at Laguna Seca, I spent my time working the fence line from Turn 1 to Turn 2, catching the World Superbike riders as they came down the harrowing fast T1 section, before hitting the double-apex that is T2 – also known as the Andretti Hairpin.
Turn 1 is easily the fastest part of the Californian track, and it is a section of tarmac where the MotoGP riders would get both wheels off the ground…at nearly full lean. The WorldSBK machines don’t quite hit the same speeds at the GP bikes, but don’t be fooled – this is a corner that separates the men from the boys.
Turn 2 on the other hand is one of the slowest places at Laguna Seca, as riders make a double-apex turn out of the left-hander, and then accelerate to Turn 3 – often popping a wheelie in the process.
If T1 shows a rider’s mettle, T2 shows a bike’s prowess, and it is plain for everyone to see who has their electronics dialed, and who does not.
The juxtaposition of these two turns was my playground for FP3, while I spent both Superpole sessions in pit lane, shooting the front straight and team pit boxes. Meanwhile for the race, I chose to shoot the grid, as it meant I could still watch the racing action from the media center.
I hope you enjoy these high-resolution shots from my Saturday at Laguna Seca.
I should call this the “going left” gallery, as there isn’t much diversity in perspective, as all of the photos attached here were taken from the same vantage point: the inside portion The Corkscrew (Turn 8) at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
A popular feature to this coastal Californian track, The Corkscrew provides plenty of spectacle for fans, but it finds its true zenith when World Superbike riders are in circulation.
The approach to Turn 8 is a fast uphill stretch, about as much of a “back straight” as Laguna Seca has to offer, and the crest of the hill sees the faster rider’s lofting the rear wheel ever so slightly, as they begin to get on the brakes.
As they get closer to the entrance of the iconic turn – a mostly blind approach I should point out – the late-brakers will again bring the rear wheel off the ground, as they threshold brake into first apex, which only reveals itself at the very last moment.
Hitting the left-hander at the top of the hill, and the right-hander on the way down, there really isn’t a chance for the suspension pieces on these bikes to react, add in a quick downshift during the left-right transition, along with some trail-braking at the top of hill, and it is easy to see why this corner is so highly regarded.
Seemingly proving the point, in just the single session I shot here, we had two red flag moments, as both Red Bull Honda riders threw their bikes down The Corkscrew’s drop in elevation. For newer riders, the challenge is even greater.
Apologies in advance for the late posting, as I spent the better part of Saturday battling an uncooperative Adobe Lightroom. I hope you enjoy these high-resolution shots from Friday at Laguna Seca.
There are not many circuits in the world like the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and the Californian circuit offers a unique challenge in World Superbike.
Led Zeppelin sang about Going to California and said, “I’ll meet you up there where the path runs high. Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams, telling myself it’s not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.”
Unfortunately for the riders in WorldSBK, when you stand at the top of the mountain at Laguna Seca, the challenge facing riders who dream of a win truly is as hard as it seems. This highly technical race track demands precision, consistency, imagination, and above all else experience.
The provisional calendar for the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Race Championship has been released, and it features a 10-stop tour for American road racing.
The 2017 calendar looks like an improvement over the 2016 schedule, with fewer gaps between races and no repeat venues. Fans will also welcome the return of Sonoma Raceway (that’s Sears Point to you locals) to the calendar, as well as the debut of Pittsburgh International Race Complex (one of my personal favorite tracks).
Geographically, the 2017 MotoAmerica calendar makes a lot more sense too, with more of a logical progression across the map between races, a benefit for teams and logistics personnel.
Fans from around the USA should be able to get to at least one round within a day’s travel by car, which should help attendance numbers.
Things are brewing around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, as SCRAMP and ISC have agreed to seek a deal together from the County of Monterey.
According to RoadRacing World, the proposed idea would see ISC getting the long-term concession agreement from the county, with SCRAMP then being hired by ISC to operate to facility, as the event management company.
This move is an interesting one, as it wasn’t too long ago that SCRAMP and ISC went toe-to-toe over the future operations of Laguna Seca.
It seems that despite efforts by Monterey County to entice International Speedway Corporation (ISC) into running Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the France Family business will not submit a proposal to the county regarding the operations and management of Laguna Seca, after all. The news is a win for the Sports Car Racing Association of the Monterey Peninsula (SCRAMP), which has operated Laguna Seca for the past 58 years, as a non-profit operation. Issuing a statement in response to ISC’s decision, SCRAMP President Gregg Curry said the following: “Our intention from the beginning, and remains the same today, is for SCRAMP to retain the concession agreement with the county and continue our 58-year management and operation of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.”
A race is more than just a race. This past weekend, both the World Superbike and MotoAmerica motorcycle road racing series came to one of the most fabled tracks in America, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
The racing was exciting, yet the crowd was not nearly as big as you would think. Maybe it was the threat of rain. Maybe it was the lack of TV coverage. Or maybe it was the fact that a lot of American riders have never been exposed to motorcycle racing and don’t know what a race weekend is all about.
Do folks think a race weekend is just sitting in the hot sun watching bikes droning around the track in endless, boring circles? Of course it’s not! Sure, there’s lots of racing, and as in any outdoor event, Mother Nature can be a factor, but there is so much more to a race weekend.
Many riders who didn’t grow up as race fans may not realize that a motorcycle race is more than just a race; it’s an event – a gathering of the motorcycling community. It doesn’t matter if you ride a cruiser, a tourer, or a sportbike. A race weekend offers something for everyone.