Exclusive! Ben Spies Describes Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Ben Spies

Punched out of the stunning natural terrain near the Monterey Peninsula, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca plays host this weekend to round nine of the FIM Superbike World Championship and round seven of the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship.

I started going to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1999. The first few years, I struggled a lot. It’s bumpy, with a lot of elevation changes. Either people like it and go well or they don’t like it and don’t go well. It doesn’t matter what bike you’re riding.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track map

Mazda Raceway has 11 turns, the ninth of which, Rainey Curve, is named for Wayne Rainey, MotoAmerica’s president and a longtime Monterey resident.

Turn one is important—knowing your timing, when to cross the hill, how much throttle to give it. If the bike is wheelying, some people trail the rear brake. I would slip the clutch to kill the wheelie with revs. Messing up turn three naturally messes up four. Turn five is banked and runs uphill, so you can run in there a lot farther on the brakes than you think is possible.

Turn six is a brave-man corner. You’re going under a bridge, the bike gets light, and you can’t see anything. It drops into a big dip, banks, and then goes off camber at the exit. You have to pick up the gas at just the right moment. Gas it too soon and you’ll lose the front.

The Corkscrew is one of those corners you can easily over-run. But if you time the first left correctly, the bike weighs so much on the backside that you can open the throttle 100 percent and carry what feels like 10 more mph all the way down to Rainey Curve.

It’s important to get a good drive out of turn 10 so you don’t get passed going into 11. I would rather be a little slow into 11 so I could choose the exit line. You want to keep the bike at about a 15-degree lean angle most of the way down the straightway, making a huge arc. More lean equals less wheelie.

This story is excerpted from the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season guide. Produced by the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, the 56-page publication is available for purchase at all nine MotoAmerica events.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Ben Spies

Punched out of the stunning natural terrain near the Monterey Peninsula, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca plays host this weekend to round nine of the FIM Superbike World Championship and round seven of the MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship.

I started going to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 1999. The first few years, I struggled a lot. It’s bumpy, with a lot of elevation changes. Either people like it and go well or they don’t like it and don’t go well. It doesn’t matter what bike you’re riding.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca track map

Mazda Raceway has 11 turns, the ninth of which, Rainey Curve, is named for Wayne Rainey, MotoAmerica’s president and a longtime Monterey resident.

Turn one is important—knowing your timing, when to cross the hill, how much throttle to give it. If the bike is wheelying, some people trail the rear brake. I would slip the clutch to kill the wheelie with revs. Messing up turn three naturally messes up four. Turn five is banked and runs uphill, so you can run in there a lot farther on the brakes than you think is possible.

Turn six is a brave-man corner. You’re going under a bridge, the bike gets light, and you can’t see anything. It drops into a big dip, banks, and then goes off camber at the exit. You have to pick up the gas at just the right moment. Gas it too soon and you’ll lose the front.

The Corkscrew is one of those corners you can easily over-run. But if you time the first left correctly, the bike weighs so much on the backside that you can open the throttle 100 percent and carry what feels like 10 more mph all the way down to Rainey Curve.

It’s important to get a good drive out of turn 10 so you don’t get passed going into 11. I would rather be a little slow into 11 so I could choose the exit line. You want to keep the bike at about a 15-degree lean angle most of the way down the straightway, making a huge arc. More lean equals less wheelie.

This story is excerpted from the 2015 MotoAmerica AMA/FIM North American Road Racing Championship season guide. Produced by the Bonnier Motorcycle Group, the 56-page publication is available for purchase at all nine MotoAmerica events.