The World Supersport riders arrived at the Parkalgar circuit to find a soaking track, and most of them decided to sit the Sunday morning session of testing out. Just five men took to the track, and Ten Kate's Michele Pirro came straight back in again, without setting a time. The lack of competition was a fillip for Swedish rider Alexander Lundh, ending the session on top, and ahead of championship candidate Joan Lascorz. The track is now drying out nicely, and the World Superbike riders are down into the 1'43s, so the final afternoon session of testing for the World Supersport class should see more traffic out on the track.
Times from Sunday morning for the World Supersport class at Portimao:
As the aftermath of the global economic crisis rumbles on, sponsorship for motorcycle racing teams is spread pretty thinly on the ground. So it helps to have contacts in the upper echelons of large companies who are sympathetic to motorcycle racing. It helps, for example, if the team is on good terms with the CEO of a large international company.
Aprilia have this situation down pat. The CEO of the Piaggio Group, Roberto Colaninno, is also the CEO of the Italian national airline Alitala, IMMSI, a commercial real estate company, and Omniaholding, a private investment firm, and so sponsorship of Aprilia's World Superbike team has been found internally. According to GPOne.com, Colaninno has corralled Alitalia into becoming title sponsor for the factory Aprilia WSBK effort this season. The rationale behind the move - apart from the relative simplicity with which it has been achieved - is to allow the two parties to benefit from the marketing synergy of the two Italian brands.
The track continued to dry out at Portimao, but the World Supersport class still ran their afternoon session on a damp surface. Michele Pirro continued his strong debut with the Ten Kate Honda, beating Kawasaki's Joan Lascorz by over three tenths of a second. The two Parkalgar Honda riders - sponsored by the Portimao circuit - Eugene Laverty and Miguel Praia finished in 3rd and 4th, while Chaz Davies was first the Triumphs in 5th. Despite the drying track, times were a couple of seconds down on Friday's times.
Times from the second session from Saturday for World Supersport:
The track is still wet at Portimao, but the World Superbike class managed to take 6 seconds off their times from this morning. Once again it was Ulsterman Johnny Rea who was quickest, mastering the wet conditions ahead of Leon Haslam on the Suzuki, while this Troy Corser made a big leap forward in the wet, taking nearly 8 seconds off his time from this morning.
Saturday afternoon times for the World Superbike class:
Parkalgar Honda's Eugene Laverty was the fastest rider in this morning's damp World Supersport session, finally getting some practice in the rain, something the Irishman complained of lacking all last season. Laverty finished ahead of Triumph's Chaz Davies and the sole Ten Kate rider at the test, Michele Pirro - Kenan Sofuoglu is still recovering from a broken ankle he suffered while training. The session was red-flagged 12 minutes before the end, when Swiss rookie Bastien Chesaux crashed out.
Times from the morning session for World Supersport:
The signs are growing that John Hopkins has come to a decision about his future. That future, it seems likely, is in his home country of the United States of America rather than Italy. The grounds for such a conclusion were first spotted by the Italian website BikeRacing.it: The entry list for the American Superbike class in the AMA includes the following line item:
|21||TBD||M4 Suzuki||Suzuki GSX-R1000||TBA|
As anyone who has followed Hopkins' career for any length of time knows, #21 is John Hopkins' number. And M4 Suzuki is Team Hammer, the team run by Roadracing World Editor and Hopkins' former mentor, John Ulrich.
Rain moved in to cover Portugal's Algarve coast on Friday night, drenching the Portimao circuit and limiting action on the track. For some of the teams, the action has moved indoors, where crews are hard at work mopping out flooded pit garages, in the hope of better whether.
Of the riders how went out this morning, Johnny Rea was quickest, putting his Ten Kate Honda ahead of Leon Haslam's Suzuki, while the unsurprising name of MotoGP's rainmaster Chris Vermeulen has moved into third spot on the timesheets, the Australian fast as ever in the wet.
Times from session 3 for World Superbikes at Portimao:
After Garry McCoy's shock replacement in Triumph's World Supersport program, the Australian issued a statement on his website saying that he was shocked at what had happened, and inviting the media to get in touch to find out his side of the story. We took McCoy up on his offer, and sent him a list of questions, which he responded to. Here's McCoy's replies to us:
MotoMatters: Was your contract with Triumph, or with BE1?
Garry McCoy: My contract was with BE1, I never had a contract with Triumph directly.
MM: You told Michael Guy of MCN that you'd been negotiating the contract since the end of last season. Had you spent a lot of time meeting with them? Did they give any indication that they were not going to sign you?
GM: No, I didn't have many meetings with the team, and no I never thought that I was going to be sacked, we had a verbal agreement for 2010. If you read the news I was already confirmed officially even by Triumph in their rider line up.
MM: Was the number they offered you less than last year, or more? You said it was less than previously agreed, but when had you agreed the higher amount?
Leon Haslam continues to lead the charge of the Brit Brigade on the first day of testing for the World Superbike field at Portimao. The young Briton took a quarter of a second off his time from this morning, but remains out of reach for the rest of the field. Another young British upstart finished the day 2nd fastest, Cal Crutchlow doing a sterling job of filling Ben Spies' shoes at Yamaha. The reigning World Supersport champion edged out Ulsterman Johnny Rea on the Ten Kate Honda by less than a tenth, making a British 1-2-3. Indeed, if the MotoGP refugee James Toseland had been just 0.014 seconds quicker, it would have been a top four for British riders, the Yamaha man ending the day just a tiny fraction behind Aprilia's Max Biaggi.
Championship runner-up Noriyuki Haga ended the first day of official testing as 7th fastest, nearly 0.8 seconds behind Haslam, and less than two tenths ahead of his teammate Michel Fabrizio. Ex-Yamaha man Tom Sykes was fastest of the Kawasakis in 12th, fractionally ahead of the quickest BMW man Troy Corser. Testing continues tomorrow.
Times from the second session for the World Superbikes at Portimao:
At the same time as they announced the provisional entry lists for World Superbike and World Supersport, the FIM also released a revised calendar for the series. The revisions consist of a single change: The British round at Donington has been moved to Silverstone.
The move is the final episode in a long saga, both tragic and farcical in equal measure. It started with the ambitious plans of altering the Donington Park circuit to allow the return of Formula One, and ended with the bankruptcy of DVLL, handing the lease and a torn-up track unsuitable for racing back to the circuit's owners, the Wheatcroft family. It also sees Silverstone completely replace Donington as the main venue for world-class motorcycle racing.
The contrasts between the plans of the two circuits are key to their outcomes. DVLL, the company that ran Donington Park, had a huge and ambitious plan to build a new track and new world class facilities, at a cost of over 130 million pounds. Silverstone, on the other hand, made a few strategic changes to the track layout and spectator areas at an estimated cost of just 5 million. DVLL is bankrupt, and Silverstone has MotoGP, Formula One, World Superbikes and BSB. Such is the price of hubris.
The FIM today officially released the provisional entry lists for the World Superbike and World Supersport championships for 2010. The lists had been released unofficially last week, when a programming error meant they were available on the official WSBK timing site with a little bit of CGI parameter tweaking.
The new lists see 3 extra riders added to both the World Superbike and the World Supersport grids, bringing the numbers up to 26 and 21 respectively. One name shown in the leaked list is missing from the official World Superbike list, however, as Matteo Baiocco, who was down to ride the DFX Corse machine, is listed as being TBA (To Be Announced). There is much speculation that the DFX Corse ride will be filled once again by Regis Laconi, the French veteran who was injured so badly at last year's South African round of World Superbikes at Kyalami.
The most significant change in the World Supersport list is the removal of Australian veteran Garry McCoy and his replacement by Jason DiSalvo and Sebastien Charpentier, a move that generated much controversy earlier this week. Other than that, two teammates, of Robbin Harms and Bastien Chesaux, are yet to be named.
Provisional World Superbike entry list
Joan Lascorz finished the first day of official testing for World Supersport comfortably astride the timesheets. The Spanish Kawasaki Motocard rider continued his form from this morning's session, extending his lead over the surprise of the day, Michele Pirro. The Italian has put on a very strong showing on his first outing with the Ten Kate Honda team, after showing much promise on a Yamaha last year. Pirro beat out another surprise rider, local boy Miguel Praia on the Parkalgar Honda. Praia finished ahead of his team mate Eugene Laverty, the man who was runner up in last year's Championship, the Portuguese rider coming within a few tenths of his pole time at last year's race here.
American rider Jason DiSalvo got off to a reasonable start, setting the 10th fastest time on the Triumph 675, ahead of World Supersport veteran Sebastien Charpentier. But DiSalvo still has plenty of room for improvement, finishing nearly three seconds behind his teammate, Chaz Davies. Testing continues tomorrow.
Times from Friday's second session of testing for the World Supersport class at Portimao:
Test times from the first session of practice for the World Superbike class at Portimao:
Times from the first morning session of practice for the World Supersport class:
The 2011 MotoGP Silly Season is already the biggest news of 2010, and the year is just a few weeks old. Shots have been fired over various bows in the runup to the summer, when negotiations with all four members of the Aliens - Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, whose contracts expire at the end of 2010 - will commence.
The biggest target for all three major manufacturers - Yamaha, Honda and Ducati - is probably the nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. So far, Rossi has been decidedly ambiguous about his own plans, flirting openly with Ducati one moment whilst avowing his loyalty to Yamaha the next. Rumors persist that Rossi is considering a switch to Ducati - fueled by the dreams and desires of 60 million Italians - and even Honda have hinted they would welcome a return. So the press, and especially the Italian press, seize on any opportunity to search for any hint of Rossi's intentions for 2011.
With the Italian currently lapping the Barcelona track in a 2008 Ferrari F2008 Formula One car - a "gift" from his friend, Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali - Alberto Porta of the Italian broadcaster SportMediaSet put a few questions to Valentino Rossi's father, Graziano, who was also at the test. In the video interview, Porta asks Graziano Rossi a series of questions about Rossi's future, both in the short and long term.