PREVIEW: 2019 World Superbike championship – Round 9 – Laguna Seca

by Robert Jones

World Superbike heads to the United States for round nine of the season, with Jonathan Rea leading the way for the first time in 2019. 

The four-time champion completed a brilliant hat-trick at Donington Park to take the championship lead from Alvaro Bautista

Laguna Seca is one of the more famous circuits that World Superbike visit, and has unique traits that the riders face such as the notorious Corkscrew section. 

Rea did the double on American soil last season, and has overturned a 61 point lead since Jerez three rounds ago, to now lead the Aruba.it Ducati rider by 24 points. 

It will be crucial for Bautista to respond and take the challenge to Rea, given the form he usually demonstrates in the second half of the season. 

Donington was also a great weekend for fellow Kawasaki riders Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu, who matched their best results this year of third and second respectively. 

Perhaps the biggest threat to Rea this weekend will be former teammate Tom Sykes, who has finished on the podium nine times at Laguna Seca since 2013.

Sykes will be looking to build on his home round performance, which saw him take his forty-ninth career Pole Position and the team’s second ever, after two-time World Superbike champion Troy Corser took the first in 2011.

Sykes matched his best result of second at Misano in race one and the Superpole race, but was unfortunately removed from the latter race order, due to crashing on the cool down lap due to an oil spill and not returning the bike to parc ferme.

Returning to action this weekend will be Markus Reiterberger, who was replaced by British Superbike rider and Isle of Man specialist Peter Hickman after suffering from a flu. 

The German had lost his way in recent races, and will be hoping to build momentum for the remainder of the season given his teammate’s recent results. 

Credit: WorldSBK.com

Laguna Seca will be the last American race for Marco Melandri, who yesterday announced his plans to retire at the end of the 2019 season. 

Its been a tough season for the veteran Italian on the GRT Yamaha, following his move from Ducati where he spent the last two years.

Round eight was another tough one for Eugene Laverty too, who returned to action for the first time since May but had to retire after Free Practice Two. 

The Irishman has gone well at Californian circuit in the past, and with the extra week recovery, he will be hoping that his physical condition is in much better shape to compete. 

Coverage begins on Friday with Free Practice one at 10:30 local time, 18:30 UK time. Which will then be followed by Free Practice two starting at 15:00 Local time, 23:00 UK time.

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