The World Superbike series makes an appearance at the North Californian Laguna Seca circuit this weekend, where riders’ skills will be tested to the utmost by the infamous corkscrew corner.

The World Superbike series makes an appearance at the North Californian Laguna Seca circuit this weekend, where riders’ skills will be tested to the utmost by the infamous corkscrew corner.


Riders regard Laguna one of the most challenging circuits imaginable, its tortuous layout rolling up and down the sides of a dried out lagoon bed. And then there’s the Corkscrew – where riders have to plunge their machine off the edge of a ridgeline of tarmac, diving down what is a 90 degree left hand corner, only to flick immediately right at the base.


After the first six rounds of WSBK competition, no fewer than six riders have scored at least one win so far. The most successful of those is championship leader Ducati Fila's Regis Laconi with a total of five wins. But Laconi only leads his team-mate, James Toseland, by three points. Toseland's single win at Valencia and his brace of podium finishes, even when he is not 100 per cent happy with his machine’s setup, has kept him in the title hunt.


The Ducati Fila duo are finding the challenge of the 2004 series a tough one, especially as all riders on all machines now have the same pool of available tyres from Pirelli.


Lying in third place in the championship, only 32 points from the lead, Noriyuki Haga of Renegade Ducati is an old hand at Laguna, having won races in 1998 and 2000.


Pierfrancesco Chili, who recently turned 40, won at Laguna Seca in 2003 and has been a race winner in SBK as recently as Misano this year. The Italian veteran is only one of three current SBK riders to have won on previous visits to Laguna.


Garry McCoy (Xerox Scuderia Caracchi Ducati 999RS) is a former MotoGP and proven SBK race winner, but Laguna will be an unfamiliar event for him, even if he has raced on the Laguna layout, in his 125 GP days.


The Foggy Petronas team will compete at Laguna Seca with a new specification Petronas FP-1 triple engine… Troy Corser is one of the trio of former Laguna race winners in this year's contest, and thanks to a Superpole win in Oschersleben and a second place race finish at Misano, his hopes of similar performances are well founded. His team-mate Chris Walker is hoping to have recovered from his most recent catalogue of injuries in time to be a force at Laguna, looking to add to his single podium finish so far.


DFX Ducati Sterilgarda riders Steve Martin and Marco Borciani have performed well this year, with Martin looking capable of wins on his 999RS machine. His single podium thus far may be added to at Laguna, while Borciani waits his first turn at a top three finish.