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Impressive Showing for Stand-in Canepa at Laguna Seca

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Dramatic racing and a red flag were the order of the day for the final race of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s weekend at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Niccolò Canepa secured a solid eighth place finish on his Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK YZF-R1 in the restarted 21-lap contest, after a red flag on the fifth lap of the opening race brought the afternoon to a pause. A final corner incident saw Alex Lowes complete his American visit in 14th.

Making his 75th WorldSBK start, Canepa initially dropped to 12th as the second US race began, before quickly finding his pace and returning to his starting positon of ninth. Fighting with the riders around him, the Italian promoted himself to eighth on the fifth lap and continued to chase the tightly-packed group in the battle for fourth. Showing consistent and impressive pace on his YZF-R1, Canepa maintained his position until mid-race distance before being outmaneuvered by his teammate, then choosing to wait and pick his moment carefully, regaining eighth on the final lap. A dramatic final corner incident had threatened to derail his progress but a clever save saw him consolidate his eight point finish at the line.

Strong off the lights from 10th on the grid, Lowes was running eighth on the opening lap as the final Laguna race restarted. Continuing his charge toward the front, the Briton held sixth in as many laps and was firmly in the hunt for fourth. An intense six-rider battle ensued for the mid-race distance, with Lowes ultimately holding eighth from his teammate for the closing stages when a mistake at the final corner saw him briefly grounded, picking up his YZF-R1 to finish 14th.

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team now returns to its UK base ahead of a long summer break. The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship returns to action at the Lausitzring in Germany on Friday 16th September.

Niccolò Canepa
Race: 8th / +20.449 / 21 laps. Championship: 19th / 30 points.

“Today was much better than yesterday! We have continued to work on the YZF-R1 to set it up better for this track and for me to understand it better. It is only my second race weekend and I still have to learn a lot regarding my riding style and the best set up for me. I think we have improved a lot for the race this afternoon, and I want to say thanks to my team because they have done an amazing job throughout the weekend. I am happy with the race as I was able to stay with the group battling for fourth, I had the same pace and for a few laps was faster, and this is very good for me. I had a strong pace but unfortunately I wasn’t able to pass them and had to just follow till the end, an eighth place may not seem like a great result but I’m really satisfied about the gap to the leader, my overall pace and the work we have done as a team this weekend. This has been a great opportunity for me and I want to say thank you again to the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team for this experience.”

Alex Lowes
Race: 14th / 51.347 / 21 laps. Championship: 11th / 94 points.

“It was quite a frustrating race today as I felt again like I had a better pace but was struggling to pass to make the most of it. For the last ten laps especially I was really getting held up by van der Mark and had a couple of big moments trying to get into position to pass him. Niccolò passed me on the last lap and I had a go to get the position back at the last corner, like you should, but made a mistake and lost the front which was a shame. To be honest we need to be a lot higher than fighting for ninth, and both myself and the team need to put in some more work to get the best out of the weekend. We will try again after the summer break and come back fighting in Germany.”

Paul Denning – Team Principal

“There has been some spectacular racing this weekend at Laguna Seca which was great to be a part of. We would have preferred the YZF-R1 to be slightly closer to the sharp end but we have to keep reminding ourselves that we are still in the early stages of the project.

“Niccolò rode a great race today, showing a big improvement from yesterday. To be only 13 seconds from the winner after 21 laps as he approached the final corner, and to battle with the permanent championship riders he was with was an impressive performance. As in Misano, he has done a super, solid, mistake-free job all weekend and we really hope this won’t be the last we see of Nick in the Pata Yamaha team. He is a pleasure to work with and we owe him a lot of thanks for doing such a fantastic stand-in job.

“Alex’s race today was slightly compromised by a very heavy accident at the end of warm-up this morning which left him, fortunately not broken, but certainly very battered and bruised. That kind of crash is never good for the confidence so it was quite tough going into today’s race and we struggled with a couple of performance issues which made it very tough for Alex to pass his competitors and move forward in the race. We now go in to the long summer break with some planned testing, so we will look to continue the development progress when we return in Germany in September.”