Motorcycle and road racing fans soaked in the action under sunny skies at the eni FIM Superbike World Championship, GEICO Motorcycle U.S. Round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend. The international racing series’ only U.S. stop attracted 49,408 people, which is 20 percent more than last year’s crowd of 41,175.
And what a show the fans saw. Tom Sykes of Kawasaki Racing Team thrilled Saturday crowds by scorching the track and setting a new World Superbike Championship track record of 1’21.811. Sykes’ time was .582 seconds shy of the 1’21.229 track record set in 2012 by MotoGP Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa.
Two Tissot Superpole battles on Saturday and two races on Sunday provided fans with plenty of World Superbike action. After 25 thrilling laps, Italian Marco Melandri of Aprilia Racing Team won the opening race of the day ahead of Aprilia teammate Sylvain Guintolo of France. Reigning world champion Britain’s Tom Sykes of the Kawasaki Racing Team took the third podium spot.
Race two on Sunday featured two restarts, daring passes, several crashes that brought out red flags and a stunning finish that carried Tom Sykes across in first. Second went to Guintolo and third to Britain’s Jonathan Rea of Pata Honda World Superbike.
“The World Superbike fan experience is one of the best in motorsports,” said Gill Campbell, CEO/general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Riders are accessible and press conferences open to the public, which attracted enormous crowds, and the overall atmosphere is filled with equal parts racing and entertainment.”
The AMA Pro Road Racing was compelling over the three days and featured the AMA Pro GoPro Daytona Sportbike, AMA Pro Superbike and the AMA Pro Vance & Hines Harley-Davidson Series. Each race had numerous lead changes and hard-fought battles for the lead.
Adding to the weekend’s appeal was the Marketplace that featured scores of vendors, motorcycle manufacturer displays, autograph sessions and an off-road driving course. Saturday evening was capped off with the Kawasaki Ninja Nights Fan Party.
It was a celebratory homecoming for Kawasaki, not only for Sykes’ victory, but for the world debut of the Kawasaki Ninja 30th anniversary edition. Kawasaki first introduced the Ninja at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1984 and returned to commemorate the occasion to the delight of Kawasaki owners.
“The weekend attracted an international audience to the Monterey Peninsula who filled hotels, restaurants, purchased goods and supplies in our stores, and experienced the true charm of our coastal community,” added Campbell. “Then when you add in millions of television viewers who devoutly tune in for each race, the amount of exposure Monterey received is invaluable.”
The next event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, August 14-17. This world-renowned historic car race features 550 authentic and period-correct race cars that span nearly every era of motorsports.