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The Corkscrew

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I am just now getting to the photos I took during the WorldSBK round at Laguna Seca, so apologies for the delay. As such, I have compiled the entire weekend’s shots into a single gallery, rather than breaking them out by day.

The order isn’t chronological then, but instead works its way around a lap of the track. The gallery starts in pit lane, with bikes and riders getting ready to take to the circuit. Next follows the pageantry of the starting grid, as my colleague Andrew Wheeler would call it.

A few shots from Turn 1 (the scariest turn in all of motorcycling, if you ask me), Turn 2 (the double-apex known better as the Andretti Hairpin), and Turn 3 (one of my favorite turns, as a rider) to get things started.

I pick the WSBK riders up again at the top of the hill at Turn 7. This vantage point always provides some good heavy braking shots, with riders often lifting the rear-wheel off the ground as the head into The Corkscrew – though, I didn’t seem to get that shot this year.

Taking a number of vantage points to this iconic turn, I shot the Corkscrew from both the inside and outside. The inside shots are the ones that are more famous, but my favorite photos from Laguna Seca always come from the outside, where on a clear day you can see the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Coming down The Corkscrew I got a sequence of PJ Jacobsen finding the wrong line through the turn, with the marshals facing a very difficult bike recovery situation, which included fluid on the course.

Following the line through The Corkscrew, riders sweep wide into Rainy Curve (Turn 9), before tightening the line at the apex. The Corkscrew isn’t that technical of a turn to ride, beyond the fact that if you get it really wrong, you will lose all your drive down the hill and thru T9.

One of the few right-handers, Turn 10, and then the bus stop that is Turn 11, and the racers are back on the front straight. This is where I caught them again, power-wheelieing out of T11 and accelerating in front of the grandstand.

If you do this 20 or so times faster than anyone else, you find yourself in parc fermé with bubbly in your hands. This year the crowd got a taste of the prosecco as well, courtesy of Jonathan Rea.

Enjoy the shots, I left them in super-high resolution form in case you need a new desktop background. Note, there are more photos in the thumbnail gallery, if you want to click through those as well.

The US Round of the World Superbike Championship sees the paddock decamp to the West Coast, and for the Superbike riders this is certainly a favorite round of the campaign.

The challenging Laguna Seca circuit is unique and rightfully regarded as one of the most action-packed and thrilling on the calendar. The laps might be short, but there’s no rest for the wicked in the Northern California hills.

In WorldSBK, gear ratios are fixed for the season, and with the deduction in revs for 2018, this will be even more crucial. We see a lot of variety at Laguna Seca with regards to gear patterns, and this will be even more exaggerated this season.

In the past, some riders were forced to use six gears whereas others were using only five around the 2.2-mile track, but ahead of the action you could expect to see all riders using six gears this weekend.

Laguna Seca snakes its way through the Monterey hills, around a lake, and offers as much of an engineering challenge as a riding challenge.

It may be, in the colorful phrase of Jeremy Burgess, a “shitty little race track,” but somehow Laguna Seca always manages to produce moments of magic. This year was no different, with Stefan Bradl finally getting his first podium, Marc Marquez breaking record after record, and Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa coming back, after they both had damaged their collarbones at the Sachsenring.

As memorable as those performances were, they will all be overshadowed by one moment. Marc Marquez passed Valentino Rossi in the Corkscrew on lap 4, running through the dirt in scenes reminiscent of Rossi’s iconic pass on Casey Stoner back in 2008.

The incident fired the imagination of MotoGP fans for so very many different reasons: the reminder of Rossi’s pass on Stoner; the even deeper line which Marquez took through the gravel in 2013; the thrill of a rider running through that corner and still managing to return and maintain his position.

Naturally, it was the talk of the press conference. When asked about the pass, Rossi turned his attention to HRC team principal (and Marc Marquez’ team boss) Livio Suppo. Suppo was Casey Stoner’s team boss back in 2008, and had complained bitterly of Rossi’s pass at the Corkscrew.

“You and Stoner break my balls for two or three years about that overtake, because I cut the curb. So what do you say about that? Have to be disqualified eh?” Rossi asked to much laughter. Not to be outdone, Suppo replied in kind: “Thanks for the question, and thanks to Marc, because after a few years, we pay you back!”

Just like Valentino Rossi’s move on Casey Stoner in 2008, we will be talking about Marc Marquez getting past Rossi through the dirt of the Laguna Seca Corkscrew for some time to come. With some retrospect, Marquez’s move on Rossi might be the defining moment for where the young Spaniard replaced the veteran Italian as MotoGP’s darling, but until that passing of the torch has been solidified with more duration, we will refer to the pass as just one of racing’s most epic moments in recent memory. Time will define Marquez, as well as the US GP; but until then, we’ll just bask in the moment a bit longer. Photos of Marc Marquez pulling a Rossi on Valentino Rossi are after the jump.

The corkscrew is widely considered to be the masterpiece of Laguna Seca, and few would argue that there is a more iconic turn in all of motorsports. For race fans from around the world, a pilgrimage to the world-famous California track doesn’t truly end until they have reached the corkscrew. However, Turn Five is what holds a special place in my heart, as that is where I first stumbled off a bus five years ago as a starry-eyed first-time race attendee. Having only experienced motorcycle racing on various television and computer screens up to that point, I will forever remember my jaw dropping to the ground as I finally witnessed firsthand the awesome and terrifying presence of MotoGP machines.