Common Tread

Behind the scenes at WSBK

Jul 23, 2015

Sometimes, I end up in just the right place at just the right time. This last weekend was one of those times. 

Someone at Pirelli decided they liked me enough to invite me to the ninth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship, held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif. Even more, they agreed to connect me with a race team of my choice, so I could hang in the pits with the crew. After spending the previous weekend racing supermoto with Aruba.it Ducati's Chaz Davies, the choice was an easy one.

Ducati supplied a 2015 Hyperstrada to ride up to the race (review coming soon) and I took the long way from Los Angeles to Monterey on Thursday before the race so I could be at the track for practice first thing Friday morning. Chaz and his team were incredibly welcoming and I was surprised he recognized me as I entered their pits Friday morning. Maybe I was just that memorably slow on a supermoto the weekend before.

Only a few selects are displayed below. To view the full gallery, expand the first photo and then use the arrows to browse through the entire collection.

I entered the weekend without knowing or caring much about WSBK. This season's MotoGP has been super fun to watch, and Supercross will always be my first love, but watching WSBK just never did it for me. All of that changed this week after spending time with the riders, their teams and families, and getting to experience the races firsthand.

Either Chaz is faster when I'm around (as evidenced by both our time racing supermoto and this race), or I just picked a great weekend to hang in the Ducati pits. Either way, witnessing the guy dominate both races alongside his family and friends, and strike back at the Kawasakis that have been dominant so far this season, is something I will never forget. Here are some scenes from my World Superbike weekend.

Riding a Ducati to Laguna Seca means parking on Ducati Island. This Hypermotard was my favorite bike. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

No trip to Ducati Island is complete without watching the Ducati Concorso bike show. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Late Friday afternoon, Chaz Davies took us on a track walk to explain what he's doing in each section of the track. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

"Aim for that tree. No, not that one, the other one." Photo by Sean MacDonald.

All was quiet in the pits Saturday morning. This would become my home for the weekend. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Practice time. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Post-practice debriefing. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Next door, Rea and Sykes returned from the practice session. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Saturday also saw Joe Roberts crowned champion in the MotoAmerica Superstock 600 class. We got to hang for a bit, but more on that later. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Giugliano's pre-race ritual includes dancing around, and then focusing himself intensely as he stretches. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Rea nipping at Sykes' heels in the corkscrew. Photo by John Pangilinan.

Despite their best efforts, neither of the Kawasaki riders could keep up as Davies slipped away. Photo by John Pangilinan.

Your WSBK race one Winner. Photo by John Pangilinan.

I convinced Pirelli to take me for a hot lap in this bad boy between races. Two wheels or four, the Corkscrew is absolutely terrifying. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

As race two began, the team gathered around the monitors. Despite Chaz's lead, the mood was incredibly tense. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

Chaz got off to a great start, taking the lead into turn one. Photo by John Pangilinan.

In the end, Davies rode an almost flawless race. Photo by John Pangilinan.

As Davies crossed the finish line, I ran with the Ducati team to the edge of the track to welcome him in. Photo by Sean MacDonald.

By this point in the weekend, I felt like one of them and could not have been happier to see this man win. Photo by Sean MacDonald.