Jonathan Rea claimed his maiden victory at Laguna Seca in the USA last year and the defending World Superbike champion is now aiming to go one better with a double this weekend..
Rea triumphed in race one at the legendary circuit in California in 2016 but was a retirement in the second race, which was won by his Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes.
The Ulster rider currently holds an advantage of 50 points over Sykes heading into the eighth round this weekend, which precedes the annual summer recess until the championship resumes at the Lausitzring in Germany (August 18-20).
With more than half of the 2017 season already elapsed, Rea is on the right track to achieving his goal of becoming the first rider in history to win the World Superbike crown in three consecutive seasons.
The 30-year-old enjoyed a short family break after the last round at Misano in Italy but Rea is back in race mode and is confident he can find a good setting with his Ninja ZX-10RR from the off in free practice tomorrow.
“After Misano I enjoyed some time camping with my family and also got together with the whole KRT team in Ibiza for some fun. I’m really looking forward to Laguna Seca this weekend as it is one of the most iconic circuits in the world, and one that I really enjoy,” said Rea.
“Our Ninja ZX-10RR has been working very well so far this season so I am confident we can find a good feeling when we hit the track in FP1 on Friday. Last year I was able to win my first race at Laguna and this time the target is to repeat that in both races.
“The American fans are very passionate about World Superbikes and the atmosphere around the paddock is something that I really enjoy,” he added.
“We are now past the halfway point of the season and I am focused on this next block of races, just to be as strong as possible and go into the summer break satisfied with our work so far.”
Yorkshireman Sykes is Rea’s biggest threat in the championship, with Ducati’s Chaz Davies now 111 points behind with six rounds remaining.
The 2013 champion has won three times at Laguna Seca and is intent on trying to reduce the deficit to Rea after making some inroads with the Kawasaki in the past few rounds.
“The Laguna circuit is quite tight and twisty and the lap times are always very close. I have had some good results there and I remember I won the very first Laguna race I ever rode in,” he said.
“It surprised me at the time because I won it against a few guys who had been there before, racing in MotoGP or the American championship. I remember that I was proud of that because I thought it would be difficult to compete there the very first time,” added Sykes.
“We have been making progress recently and I would like to keep moving forward and pick up a big bagful of points. That has to be the target this weekend. The American fans are fantastic and I just like the whole atmosphere and environment. I love the place.”
Race one is scheduled for 22:00 BST on Saturday with the second race at the same time on Sunday.