Exclusive WSBK Video: Looking Back At Mazda Raceway

Only Sunday’s doubleheader at the Sepang International Circuit, located 8500 miles from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, stands between the Superbike World Championship and its seven-week summer break. Heading into round 10, here are three current topics of discussion:

1. Rea Can Wrap Up Title

After 18 starts this season, Jonathan Rea has 11 wins, five seconds, and two thirds. The Brit leads the championship with 407 points, 125 more than his Kawasaki teammate, Tom Sykes, who is currently second in the title chase. Rea finished third in both races at Mazda Raceway, his worst performances of the season.

“At Laguna,” Rea said, “with it not being such a high braking force track, quite twisty, and with the temperature not being so high, I was not able to use my preferred front tire. So I expect in Malaysia, with the temperature increase and heavy braking zones, my preferred harder front option will be the tire of choice.

“I hope to be able to get back to my normal riding style and set the bike up accordingly. While we had a good pace at Laguna Seca, I was not entirely comfortable. It is important for me to have a strong weekend at Sepang before we start the long summer break.”

With 200 points over four rounds (Malaysia, Spain, France, and Qatar) still on the table, only three others—Sykes, Mazda Raceway double-winner Chaz Davies, and Aprilia’s Leon Haslam—have a mathematical shot at the title.

In fact, if Rea is able to stretch his lead after Sunday’s races to more than 150 points, he will be crowned champion. Last year at Sepang, riding a Pata Honda CBR1000RR, Rea was sixth in both races and went on to complete the season third overall.

Tom Sykes Jonathan Rea Mazda Raceway

Jonathan Rea chases Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes in World Superbike race two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The finishing order was the same in both events.

2. Max Is Back (Again)

For the second time this season, Max Biaggi will contest a round of SBK. At Misano, after qualifying fifth (just 0.004 seconds slower than Rea), the six-time world champion placed sixth in both races. In the second, he was 5.911 seconds behind winner Rea.

Biaggi, riding for Aprilia’s test team, will join factory riders Haslam and Jordi Torres at Sepang. Although he completed many laps of the 15-turn, 3.4-mile circuit during his Grand Prix days, albeit more than a decade ago, Biaggi has never raced a Superbike at the Malaysian track. Rain largely ruined last week’s pre-race testing, uniquely possible for wildcards.

“During the tests,” the 44-year-old father of two said, “I discovered the difficulties of a complex track with extreme weather conditions, and losing precious time didn’t help. Improving on the Misano results will be no walk in the park, but it isn’t the first time I’ve faced an impossible challenge.”

Chaz Davies Podium Mazda Raceway

Ducati’s Chaz Davies had a perfect weekend at Mazda Raceway: pole position and two uncontested race wins. He hopes to have the same success this weekend in Malaysia.

3. No Replacement For Giugliano

Chaz Davies will be the lone factory Ducati representative at Sepang. Teammate Davide Giugliano crashed in race two at Mazda Raceway and left California with a fractured vertebra. The Italian, who earned two poles and three podiums since his return earlier this season from a different back injury, will miss the remainder of the year.

At Laguna Seca, Davies earned the first pole position of his Superbike career. The following day, the Welshman put together two memorable races, dominating both from start to finish—the second in changing conditions—to score a double win.

Last year, Davies was fourth and eighth at Sepang. “All things considered,” he said, “I think we did a good job last year. The high temperatures were a big issue for us, especially in the races where grip worsened significantly after a few laps. We were quite fast for as long as we had tire life but it wasn’t for long enough, unfortunately.

“We are definitely in a better position now and so we should be more competitive, especially considering our recent results. The weather may impact the practices and races, with the likelihood of thunderstorms almost every day. We just have to wait and see.”

Only Sunday’s doubleheader at the Sepang International Circuit, located 8500 miles from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, stands between the Superbike World Championship and its seven-week summer break. Heading into round 10, here are three current topics of discussion:

1. Rea Can Wrap Up Title

After 18 starts this season, Jonathan Rea has 11 wins, five seconds, and two thirds. The Brit leads the championship with 407 points, 125 more than his Kawasaki teammate, Tom Sykes, who is currently second in the title chase. Rea finished third in both races at Mazda Raceway, his worst performances of the season.

“At Laguna,” Rea said, “with it not being such a high braking force track, quite twisty, and with the temperature not being so high, I was not able to use my preferred front tire. So I expect in Malaysia, with the temperature increase and heavy braking zones, my preferred harder front option will be the tire of choice.

“I hope to be able to get back to my normal riding style and set the bike up accordingly. While we had a good pace at Laguna Seca, I was not entirely comfortable. It is important for me to have a strong weekend at Sepang before we start the long summer break.”

With 200 points over four rounds (Malaysia, Spain, France, and Qatar) still on the table, only three others—Sykes, Mazda Raceway double-winner Chaz Davies, and Aprilia’s Leon Haslam—have a mathematical shot at the title.

In fact, if Rea is able to stretch his lead after Sunday’s races to more than 150 points, he will be crowned champion. Last year at Sepang, riding a Pata Honda CBR1000RR, Rea was sixth in both races and went on to complete the season third overall.

Tom Sykes Jonathan Rea Mazda Raceway

Jonathan Rea chases Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes in World Superbike race two at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The finishing order was the same in both events.

2. Max Is Back (Again)

For the second time this season, Max Biaggi will contest a round of SBK. At Misano, after qualifying fifth (just 0.004 seconds slower than Rea), the six-time world champion placed sixth in both races. In the second, he was 5.911 seconds behind winner Rea.

Biaggi, riding for Aprilia’s test team, will join factory riders Haslam and Jordi Torres at Sepang. Although he completed many laps of the 15-turn, 3.4-mile circuit during his Grand Prix days, albeit more than a decade ago, Biaggi has never raced a Superbike at the Malaysian track. Rain largely ruined last week’s pre-race testing, uniquely possible for wildcards.

“During the tests,” the 44-year-old father of two said, “I discovered the difficulties of a complex track with extreme weather conditions, and losing precious time didn’t help. Improving on the Misano results will be no walk in the park, but it isn’t the first time I’ve faced an impossible challenge.”

Chaz Davies Podium Mazda Raceway

Ducati’s Chaz Davies had a perfect weekend at Mazda Raceway: pole position and two uncontested race wins. He hopes to have the same success this weekend in Malaysia.

3. No Replacement For Giugliano

Chaz Davies will be the lone factory Ducati representative at Sepang. Teammate Davide Giugliano crashed in race two at Mazda Raceway and left California with a fractured vertebra. The Italian, who earned two poles and three podiums since his return earlier this season from a different back injury, will miss the remainder of the year.

At Laguna Seca, Davies earned the first pole position of his Superbike career. The following day, the Welshman put together two memorable races, dominating both from start to finish—the second in changing conditions—to score a double win.

Last year, Davies was fourth and eighth at Sepang. “All things considered,” he said, “I think we did a good job last year. The high temperatures were a big issue for us, especially in the races where grip worsened significantly after a few laps. We were quite fast for as long as we had tire life but it wasn’t for long enough, unfortunately.

“We are definitely in a better position now and so we should be more competitive, especially considering our recent results. The weather may impact the practices and races, with the likelihood of thunderstorms almost every day. We just have to wait and see.”