MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders took to the Portuguese circuit of Portimao this weekend, to undertake a two day test as the track... WorldSBK Portimao testing round-up

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MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders took to the Portuguese circuit of Portimao this weekend, to undertake a two day test as the track is set to host round 10 of the championship. With 11 teams present this weekend, there was plenty of information to be taken as the opening round of the season gets ever closer. Despite rain falling on Saturday morning, this didn’t slow our riders pace or passion.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) took the honours of finishing on the top spot as teams made their return to the Autodromo Internacional Algarve with a lap time of 1.41.813. The Welshman spent the opening day adjusting to the bumps around the circuit, and beginning to understand the Panigale R’s potential. Improving on his time for day two, the Italian team decided to test the 2016 bike against the 2017 model which enabled them to understand how to work through issues they came across in Jerez.

Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) had a steady weekend working through the set-up of the bike; ending Saturday in the top three and day two just inside the top eight. Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team-mates Michael Rinaldi and Mike Jones were the top two European Superstock 1000 riders over the weekend, with a top time of 1.44.937.

Milwaukee Aprilia continue to understand and improve aboard their brand new Aprilia RSV4-RF, as Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori completed the top three on the timing sheets. Irish rider Laverty took away many positives from his second test of 2017, stating: “I feel a lot more confidence ahead of Phillip Island after this test. I was lacking so much confidence in Jerez because I couldn’t attack and everytime I’d lean into a corner I’d have so much chatter that I was expecting to crash. It’s so nice to be able push hard again here because that’s what riders enjoy.”

Savadori mirrored his team-mates feelings following the two day tests, however he is still keen to work on race pace ahead of the start of the much anticipated season opener in under a month’s time. Lapping just 0.041s behind Laverty, it’s clear the pair will be competitive as the paddock heads Down Under.

Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) had his second outing of 2017 this weekend, but only his second day of testing aboard the 1000 F4 with a strong time of 1.42.339 which secured him a position in the top five on the time sheets. The Brit made up for lost time, putting in almost 100 laps of the circuit over the two days and left feeling pleasantly surprised with how the testing had gone. The Italian’s World Supersport effort were also present in Portugal and new recruit PJ Jacobsen set the fastest time for his class; a 1.46.229 whilst European Superstock team-mate Alessandro Zaccone finished within 1.6s of the American.

Race simulations were the theme of the Portimao test for Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), as he continues to build up plenty of data as well as work on the electronics on the 2017 spec YZF R1. Finishing in the top six, Lowes explains: “I was satisfied with the pace and the lessons we can learn from it. I’ve trying to keep calm and change my approach so we’ll see if it works when we start racing.”

Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) felt fast from the beginning of the Portimao test, as he concentrates on modifying his riding style. The young Dutch rider put in over 80 laps on day two, and clocked a time within the top seven: “I’m very happy about this test because we were fast from the start and the feeling was good. We’re a lot closer to the front here too and that’s what I was looking for. I feel really happy on the bike and now that I have this feeling it’s very good.”

Honda World Superbike team took another step to understanding their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 this weekend, and injured Nicky Hayden ended the test feeling frustrated as himself and his team continue to work through the issues encountered with the brand new machine. Despite this, the 2006 MotoGP™ World Champion finished in the top nine over the weekend but explains: “To be honest it’s been a pretty frustrating couple of days but this isn’t the first time that I’ve had a frustrating test in my life and we’ll work on it.”
Stefan Bradl also continues to work through issues found with the 2017 bike, as the German struggles with traction control and grip this weekend – but he was able to finish in 11th position, 1.883 off Davies’ time.

Althea BMW had a large presence at the Portimao test this weekend, with four riders on track in Portugal. Raffaele de Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) was in for injured Jordi Torres, taking on his first duties of the season for the team and finishing in the top 12, collecting all important data for the team. Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team) had a difficult couple of days with the S 1000 RR, as he continues understand how to build his pace and feeling on the machine. Marco Faccani (Althea BMW Racing Team) had a steady test aboard the STK1000 machine, finishing in the top four despite still riding injured from Jerez. Julien Puffe (Althea MF84) is building and improving his pace with the new STK1000 team, making strong progress.

Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) was able to secure a spot in the top 13, with a time of 1.43.800, as the Spaniard continues to build on his strong pace so far this winter. New team Guandalini Racing are making steady progress in the winter testing, with STK1000 graduate Riccardo Russo setting the 14th fastest time on Sunday. Making his debut with his new WorldSBK team, Leandro Mercado (IODARacing) was able to begin the test unpressurised by the team and began day one with no timings. Sunday saw the Argentinean make his way into the top 15 for his first outing.

CIA Landlord Insurance Honda were present at the Portimao test, and they World Supersport team left Portugal feeling productive, once the team was able to get out on to the dry track. Jules Cluzel, Robin Mulhauser and Hikari Okubo were all present, and made some strong lap times and took some good data from the circuit. After a dramatic few weeks, Puccetti Racing had three bikes out on track at Portimao in order to make the most from the difficult situation they are in. Former WorldSBK rider Leon Haslam took to the track on Randy Krummenacher’s WorldSBK bike, and set the fourth fastest lap time overall. Kyle Ryde continued to help the team and work on running in engines, as well as building on his pace meaning he had a steady two day’s at the track. Michael Canducci was the second fastest WorldSSP rider this weekend, as he tests the Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI Kawasaki.

Source: WorldSBK