The Circuit San Juan Villicum surprised everyone in the WorldSBK paddock this past weekend. With the Andes Mountain range offering one of the most picturesque backgrounds in all of racing, this brand new facility has instantly offered a unique circuit to the championship.
The 2.6-mile circuit has received positive feedback from the riders and teams, and Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty offered us his perspective of the track.
Portimão is one of the most exciting laps of the year for a WorldSBK rider. The Portuguese circuit is used extensively for winter testing, and last month’s official test also offered the majority of the field a chance to fine tune their settings for their return to action.
The circuit, nestled in the hills of the Algarve, is challenging for riders. There’s a bit of everything here, and getting your eye in and getting the most from the circuit takes time.
“Portimao is my favourite track in the world,” said an enthusiastic Eugene Laverty. “It’s something unique! I’ve done so many laps around this place over the years that I know this place like the back of my hand. At some tracks, you need the bike to work in a certain way to be fast because the rider is limited in what they can do – this place is the opposite!”
It is a race unlike any other, and it has a circuit unlike any other to match. The Suzuka 8-Hours is the biggest race of the year for Japanese manufacturers, and it is held on one of the longest laps of the year.
With lap times of over two minutes, it is very easy for time to burn during a session, and it is very easy to left rueing any mistakes you make.
The Japanese venue is one of the most technical on the planet. It is a lap of contrasts, with the sweeping corners of the opening half, followed by a hairpin and chicanes in the second half of the lap.
Getting it right takes time and any mistake is heavily punished on the stop watch.
Leon Camier has plenty of experience at Misano. The Red Bull Honda WorldSBK star has ridden at the Italian circuit in Grand Prix and also on a Superbike.
He’s spent time learning the nuances of the Rimini venue, and over that time he’s found out one thing: patience is key.
“Misano is a tricky circuit, but it’s got some interesting quirks,” Leon Camier told us. “The opening sector of the lap is very challenging because if you make a mistake in Turn 1, it affects you for the whole sector.”
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.
The rolling hills of Brno have produced one of the most iconic circuits on the MotoGP and WorldSBK calendar, and this 5km circuit has been the home of some classic races. What goes into a fast lap though is a lot of work on your bike settings and not forcing the issue.
Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri, two former 250GP champions, have been hugely successful at the Czech track, and it’s no coincidence that both riders were schooled riding bikes that needed high corner speed.
Former MotoGP rider Michael Laverty is in Brno this weekend, and he sat down with us to talk about what goes into finding speed at the track, and what he’s seen from watching trackside on Friday.
Jonathan Rea was the man that ended Tom Sykes’ winning streak at Donington Park. The reigning WorldSBK champion snapped a nine-race streak for Sykes by winning Race 2 at the British round, and he’s excited ahead of his home round.
“Donington is a circuit of two halves,” said Rea. “Sector 1 and 2 are very flowing, and the final sector is very stop and start.”
“It’s very difficult to find the right setup, and you’re always making a compromise. Sometimes I have had a setting that is great for the first halfm and other times I’ve set the bike up for the final sector.”
“It really depends on what you need to do with the bike you have. You need to find a compromise between stability and agility, but it’s a very satisfying track to get right.
Imola is one of the most historic circuits in the world. Tamburello, Acque Minerali, and Rivazza are corner names etched into the fiber of the sport, and with the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari’s son, the emotion of Imola is always bubbling away just under the surface.
For a long time, Eugene Laverty didn’t feel at home at this twisting and technical circuit, but over the last ten years he has been able to scratch at the surface and unlock the key to a fast time around this 4.936km circuit.
“Imola is a very technical circuit and it’s a real challenge to learn it,” said Laverty. “It took me a long time to figure out some of the secrets of it, and even when I was racing here on the Yamaha Superbike, after a few years of Supersport, I was still struggling.”
“The most important thing is to be white line to white line because there’s no ‘natural corners.’ The straights are so short that everything leads into one another and it’s a real challenge to learn the details of Imola.”
With two Supersport podiums and a WorldSBK rostrum, Laverty understands what’s needed, but for this weekend, recovering from an injury, he’ll face an uphill task.