Just a few days after the UK’s Superbike World round at Donington Park on Sunday, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is on the move once again, this time for the ninth round of the championship, which will take place this weekend in the USA, at the spectacular Laguna Seca circuit in California.
After heading the table since the start of the season, at Donington the Spanish rider lost the top slot to his Kawasaki rival, Jonathan Rea, and now he is forced to chase the four-time world champion from Northern Ireland in the battle for the title. Bautista has raced four times at the challenging Monterey peninsula circuit in the MotoGP category, the last time in 2013 when he finished in fourth place, but this weekend he will tackle Laguna Seca for the first time on board a Superbike.
Instead his team-mate Chaz Davies, who during the weekend in California will notch up his 200th championship start in the production-based series, can consider himself to be a ‘veteran’ of Laguna Seca; the Welsh rider in fact has taken part in eleven races there, winning three and finishing runner-up three times.
World Superbike returns to action at a track where, out of 32 races held so far, Ducati riders have won a total of 13 times, the last occasion in 2017 with Davies. On just two occasions (in 2001 with Ben Bostrom and in 2015 with Davies) Ducati has scored a double win.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will be out on track on Friday at 10:30 local time (19:30 CET) for the first free practice session, while the weekend schedule sees Race 1 take place at 14:00 (23:00 CET) on Saturday, the Superpole Race at 11:00 (20:00 CET) on Sunday, followed by Race 2 at 23:00 (15:00 CET).
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 2nd (352 points)
“Unfortunately because of my crashes we are now in second place in the standings, which might be interesting for the championship but not so much for me! If I look at the layout of Laguna Seca, for sure I can say that it’s not one of the best tracks for us, because when we have bumps, and uphill and downhill sections, we could struggle, but like I have been saying all year I have no expectations. I prefer to go there, see what happens, start to work hard with my team and get the maximum from the weekend.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 8th (130 points)
“The last couple of races have been really tough for me, especially last weekend at Donington, where I still had problems in getting the best feeling with the bike. So I’m looking forward to going straight to Laguna Seca before the summer break. It’s always been a decent track for me and I’ve had some wins there in the past, so it’s a good opportunity to try and improve our results before the break. We need it because we are simply not competitive enough at the moment.”
The Laguna Seca circuit
WorldSBK has a long history of racing in the USA, with Miller Motorsports Park (Utah) and Brainerd International Raceway (Minnesota) having hosted races, in addition to Laguna Seca in California, which was the venue for the championship from 1995 to 2004 and which returned to the calendar in 2013 to remain to the present day. Laguna Seca’s spectacular layout around the hillsides of Salinas on the Monterey Peninsula includes the thrilling Corkscrew section. The US boasts a wonderful motorcycle racing heritage with great champions such as Kenny Roberts, Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz and Nicky Hayden in Grand Prix racing and Fred Merkel, Doug Polen, Scott Russell, John Kocinski, Colin Edwards and Ben Spies in WorldSBK, all of whom won the title.
Circuit Record: Sykes (Kawasaki), 1’21.811 (158.85 km/h) - 2014
Fastest Lap: Davies (Ducati), 1’23.041 (156.50 km/h) - 2018
Track Length: 3.610 km
Race Distance: 2 x 25 laps (90.250 km), 1 x 10 laps (36.600 km)
Corners: 11 (7 left, 4 right)
Race 1: 1. Rea (Kawasaki); 2. Davies (Ducati); 3. Lowes (Yamaha)
Race 2: 1. Rea (Kawasaki); 2. Davies (Ducati); 3. Laverty (Aprilia)
Bike: Ducati Panigale V4 R
Race Number: 19
Age: 34 (born on 21st November 1984 in Talavera de la Reina, Spain)
SBK Races: 22
First SBK Race: 2019 Phillip Island
First Win: 2019 Phillip Island
Pole Positions: 3
First Pole: 2019 Buriram
World Titles: 1 (2006 125cc)
Bike: Ducati Panigale V4 R
Race Number: 7
Age: 32 (born on 10th February 1987 in Knighton, UK)
SBK Races: 198
First SBK Race: 2012 Imola
First Win: 2012 Nürburgring
Pole Positions: 6
First Pole: 2015 Laguna Seca
World Titles: 1 (2011 Supersport)