Laguna Seca’s most prominent feature is the world-famous Corkscrew – the undulating left-right flick that you enter blind, which then proceeds to drop you three stories as you plunge into Rainey Curve. It’s a thrilling piece of asphalt every motorsport enthusiast should experience someday. But one of the more underappreciated sections of the track, especially for motorcyclists, is the hill leading up to the Corkscrew. Tackling it aboard the updated 2021 Aprilia RSV4 really makes you feel alive.
The official line whenever I’ve spoken to Zero reps is that the company is in the business of making street bikes, not racers. But the hot rodding spirit is alive and burning when you look into the eyes of some of the people who work there, and so it only comes naturally that a core group of enthusiasts would take an SR/F and push its limits.
Usually when we have a shootout here at Motorcycle.com, the participants are somewhat defined for us. First, we choose a class of motorcycle, and then, we put the latest versions of those bikes in a head-to-head-competition. This time we’re doing something a little different. Each MO editor chose whatever bike they wanted to ride to Monterey, CA, for the U.S. round of World Superbike. The only caveat would be that the bike had to be capable of participating in the annual Pirelli Track Day that takes place the day after the races finish at Laguna Seca. Okay, there was one other rule that I tried to enforce, but the one editor just couldn’t bring himself to choose a bike that had OEM bags available for it.
Does Kevin Cameron still have to change tires? I mean, riding your choice of the latest bikes to Laguna Seca for World Superbike weekend, followed by a Pirelli-sponsored track day Monday, is a dream come true for any motorcycle person, but maybe you don’t want to see how the MO sausage is made. Pirelli wanted us to mount up its new Supercorsa TD (Track Day) tires ahead of time, and they drop-shipped me two sets. Two sets because when Troy couldn’t make the ride this year, I volunteered my son Ryan to ride the Ducati Supersport in his place. Ryan was, to say the least, excited.
You’ve heard the adage a lot if you’re a consistent Motorcycle.com reader – it’s more fun to ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow – and with our recent Lightweight Sportbike Shootout we’ve gone ahead and proved it. By now we’ll assume you’ve already read the shootout, seen our conclusions, and also drawn your own; but what exactly do these three motorcycles look like at speed around Laguna Seca? This is your chance to see for yourself, as we’ve captured a quick lap aboard all three bikes, courtesy of Yours Truly.
Not many of the kids racing World Superbike and MotoAmerica last weekend were born the first time I went to Laguna Seca in 1988 for the return of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the USA. Eddie Lawson won that one. Wayne Rainey had taken pole position and finished fourth, ahead of Kevin Schwantz in fifth. Mike Baldwin finished tenth to make it 40% Americans in the top ten. Meanwhile in the 250s (what would be Moto2 today but much cooler because two-strokes), Arkansas’ own John Kocinski took the 250 pole, while fellow American Jimmy Filice took the storybook win in the race. Long story short, Americans from Kenny Roberts on dominated top-level road racing.
Claudio Domenicali, Ducati CEO, unveiled the 1299 Panigale R Final Edition flanked by Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri of the Ducati World Superbike team this evening in Pebble Beach, California, in advance of the World Superbike races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend.
Ducati released a video teasing a new model to be unveiled at the July 7 World Superbike round at Laguna Seca. The video, titled “When the End Tells the Whole Story,” offers a few tantalizing glimpses of the new model which we suspect to be a final edition version of the Ducati Panigale R.
In a few days I’ll be bringing you my first impressions of Ducati’s new Supersport and Supersport S models – the everyman’s Panigale, comfortable enough to ride to a trackday, and sporty enough to rip some quick laps – from its launch in Spain. Meanwhile, we bring you MO’s first impressions of another Supersport – the 1999 Ducati Supersport 900. Combining impressions from both a street ride and a few track sessions, my review of the 2017 version will encompass the same. After reading this, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for my First Ride review of the 2017 Ducati Supersport, coming soon.
Nicky Hayden is a busy guy. As if the rigors of competing full-time in World Superbike on board a Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR wasn’t enough, the less glamorous portion of his job includes all his sponsor obligations and chatting with media hacks like Yours Truly. But there’s a reason why The Kentucky Kid is such a well-loved figure in racing paddocks worldwide – he always gives whatever time he has to those secondary obligations, and he does it with a smile. Motojournalists like the guy because he’ll always give you honest answers to the best of his ability and not canned one-liners other racers sometimes snort out reluctantly, as if talking to the media is beneath them.
Companies that go racing love to promote how the lessons learned at the racetrack trickle down to the products we use on the street. Besides being great marketing fodder, the idea behind racing is to develop products that will benefit the everyday consumer. We generally think of sportbikes (and liter-class sportbikes in particular) as being direct translations of racetrack development trickling down to production models, but we sometimes forget about the only part of the motorcycle in continuous contact with the road: its tires.