Press releases issued by some of the World Superbike and World Supersport teams present at the Portimao test held over the past few days:
The final day of testing for the World Superbike riders at Portimao at last gave everyone a full day of riding on a dry track. Though the rain stayed away, cool temperatures and a lack of rubber on the track made conditions far from ideal, but at least the teams could get some of the work done they had planned for the test.
The day ended with a Suzuki topping the timesheets, much as it had on Sunday. This time, it was Alex Lowes putting the Voltcom Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the top of the standings, after spending a long day pounding out the laps at the track. Lowes ended the day with a small but harmless spill, which did cause the session to be red-flagged for half an hour, cutting the test short. Before his crash, Lowes was lapping close to the race lap record set by Tom Sykes during the race here back in June last year.
The World Superbike testing season has gotten off to a slow start, with the weather around Portimao apparently unwilling to cooperate. Heavy overnight rain left the circuit wet on Sunday morning, but conditions improved enough for the riders present to fit slicks in the afternoon and start to work on set up.
Fastest man of the day was Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Suzuki, the Irishman benefiting from the work already done at Almeria last week, and continuing the work on chassis balance, suspension and electronics settings. Laverty posted a time two tenths faster than Marco Melandri, the man who took Laverty's place at Aprilia. It was a small but satisfying victory in what is likely to be a fierce rivalry, if the Suzuki continues its current pace of improvement.
The Ducati, too, showed much improvement, Davide Giugliano just three tenths behind Laverty, and Chaz Davies in fifth a tenth slower than his new teammate. After a difficult first year racing the Panigale, times so far appear much closer to the front.
Most impressive performance of the day was by Alex Lowes. The reigning BSB champion had never ridden at Portimao before, and was forced to learn the track in the wet. But within a few hours, Lowes was lapping just three tenths off the pace of Laverty, setting the fourth fastest time of the day.
The long wait for motorcycle racing fans is over. The winter test ban for the World Superbike ends today, and a number of teams will take to the track in Spain and Portugal over the next four days, weather permitting.
The World Superbike paddock is split between Portimao in Portugal and Almeria in southern Spain for the next few days, with Aprilia, Pata Honda and Ducati heading to Portimao, while Kawasaki and Voltcom Suzuki start at Almeria. Suzuki will pack up after two days at Almeria and join Aprilia, Honda and Ducati at Portimao until the 20th of January. The Yakhnich MV Agusta team will also be testing at Portimao, as will the World Supersport teams of PTR Honda and Mahi Kawasaki.
Kawasaki and Honda will be back in southern Spain in early February, with the factory Kawasaki team being joined by the Pedercini squad and Pata Honda for two days at Jerez. Everyone then packs up and heads much further south, to Australia, for the season opener at Phillip Island on 23rd February.
Below is the preseason testing schedule for the World Superbike, World Supersport and Superstock teams for the next few weeks:
2014 World Superbike, World Supersport and FIM Superstock 1000 calendar (provisional)
At long last, the FIM and Dorna have released a calendar for the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2014. The calendar features fourteen World Superbike events, but it is still very much a provisional list, with three of the fourteen still subject to contract, and the final race still marked as to be confirmed, with neither the location nor the country known.
The season kicks off as always in Australia, the World Superbike and World Supersport classes headed to the Phillip Island circuit for the opener on 23rd of February. There follows another WSBK tradition: the interminable wait for round 2. In 2014, there are seven weeks between the first and second rounds, with the second event taking place at the Motorland Aragon circuit just outside of Alcañiz. The WSBK circus then takes off for a tour through Europe, heading to Assen, Imola and Donington Park, before heading overseas again to Sepang, and a Malaysian round. Two rounds in Europ follow, at Misano and Portimao, before the World Superbike class heads to Laguna Seca, taking the slot vacated by the MotoGP class.
Racing first came to the undulating Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in 2008, opening for business with the last World Superbike race of the year, just before the global economy collapsed. Since then, its appearance on the calendar has danced around the calendar, sometimes early in the year, other times late, and it was very nearly removed from the calendar last year through financial concerns, but luckily for fans of racing, even though so few of them actually turn up at the circuit, racing continues there.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Sunday's races at Portimao:
As the riders, apart from Leon Haslam who decided to sit the race out, lined up on the grid, Tom Sykes was missing. He had crashed on the sighting lap, but he got his Kawasaki towed back to the pits with ten minutes for his team to rebuild the front cowl. If his bike were put back in the garage, that would be his race over, so his team brought their tools and mechanics out to the pit lane to frantically try to get his bike ready. As it was, he had to start from the pit lane, hoping that the small grid would allow him to score a couple of points.
World Supersport is known for giving us close racing, with plenty of brave and ambitious riders, all with a burning desire to win. This race was without a doubt a perfect example of the class at its best.
Qualifying at Portimão was all about dodging the rain. As the clouds loomed pendulously overhead, riders had to time their runs in Superpole well, in case the rain fell. As it was, after the first session, Superpole two was rapidly abandoned and, along with Superpole three, it was replaced with a single wet 20 minute session. It didn't rain.
World Supersport qualifying was done with a backdrop of threatening weather.
Sam Lowes was able to fend off both the rain and Kenan Sofuoglu. The white flags came out twice during the session, yet Lowes was still able to get within a fifth of a second of Sofuoglu's outright best lap from 2010 and lead Sofuoglu and Sheridan Morais by over half a second. The front row is made up of three manufacturers, with Yamaha, Kawasaki and Honda all represented.
The top riders that qualified into the Superpole sessions knew that they didn't need to set records in the first session as they wanted what all Superpole One contenders wanted; a ticket to Superpole Two. The unpredictable weather would catch the organisers out, playing for safety trumping the planned schedule. Qualifying tyres were once again coloured with a pink band instead of the usual yellow.