Chaz Davies made an emotional return to the top step in race one of the US leg of the World Superbike championship.
But it was ‘Mr Superpole’ Tom Sykes who took the hole shot after starting from pole position, leading Davies whose strong start put him in front of Rea going into the first corner.
While Davies and Rea were battling each other for 2 nd , Sykes was beginning to get away at the front. With 14 laps to go Davies went through on Sykes for the lead, pushing the Kawasaki out wide and giving Rea the opportunity to come through on his team mate too.
Unfortunately for the Irishman, the move didn’t pay off and it took him a further two laps to pass his team mate and start hunting down Davies, who’s mistake on the entry to the Corkscrew allowed Rea to gain time.
That didn’t phase Davies though, as twelve laps later he crossed the line to take the win in an emotional tribute to the late Nicky Hayden.
The Pata Yamaha squad of Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes have really struggled so far this weekend, complaining of issues with front end feel. This showed in their performance, as Lowes crashed out with 19 laps to go, and van der Mark struggled to claw his way up to 8th position.
Marco Melandri was carrying the confidence of his win in Misano and honestly I expected a lot more. It seems as if Melandri is always comfortable and happy to finish in 4th . Can we blame him? Fourth position means pole position in race two tomorrow, a massive advantage over his rivals on a tricky circuit.
Jake Gagne was carrying the American flag for the Honda team at what would’ve been Nicky’s home race. He did a fantastic job, bringing home a point in his first ever World Superbike race. Nicky has been very prominent at Laguna this weekend. A sea of ‘69’ flags never stopped waving throughout the grandstands and the amount of Hayden merchandise seen worn with pride around the paddock showed just how truly respected the American was.
Chaz Davies dedicated his victory today to Nicky and rightly so, as it was a race he would’ve been proud of.
World Superbike race one:
- Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Ducati – 35:14.812
- Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team + 1.202
- Tom Sykes, Kawasaki Racing Team + 5.798
- Marco Melandri, Aruba.it Ducati + 17.574
- Xavi Fores, BARNI Racing Team + 21.159
- Leon Camier, MV Agusta Reparto Corse + 23.016
- Jordi Torres, Althea BMW Racing Team + 31.986
- Michael van der Mark, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team + 32.933
- Leandro Mercado, IODARacing + 35.936
- Lorenzo Savadori, Milwaukee Aprilia + 36.912
- Eugene Laverty, Milwaukee Aprilia – 15 laps
- Alex Lowes, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 19 laps