Latest World Superbike Results
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.
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.
As riders settled into the chase for perfect race settings, it was Tom Sykes that posted the fastest time ahead of Eugene Laverty and Loris Baz. Baz was impressively turning out around as many 1'43 laps as both Laverty and Sykes and could prove to be a fly in the ointment of the usual front runners.
Sheridan Morais and Jack Kennedy headed off Sam Lowes and Kenan Sofuoglu in a session whose top four was contained within two tenths of a second. Michael Van Der Mark and Fabien Foret both showed signs of recovery filling out the provisional second row.
Repeating his result from Friday, Jonathan Rea, in the last few minutes of the qualifying session, grabbed provisional pole. The Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, also on the provisional front row, were the only ones recording multiple 1'43 laps, however.
In response to the announcement that new rules will be coming into play in 2014, with the aim of making Superbike racing more affordable and with more competitive machines on the grid, Jonathan Rea put his beleaguered Honda Fireblade in provisional pole position, ahead of the two men that won here last year.
Rea has never won at Portimão, but he's been on the podium every year since 2009 and he was even in fourth place in 2008 when he switched over from World Supersport for the last race of the year and his first ever weekend on the Ten Kate Superbike. It's safe to say he goes well here. Unfortunately, so do Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes. Sykes won race one here in 2012, from, as will come as a shock to precisely nobody, pole position, but DNFed in a second race won by Laverty, as part of his late-year discovery of form and electronics.
Jonathan Rea grabs and holds on to provisional pole, in spite of a last minute onslaught from both Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes. All three men kept the rest of the field from the top spot throughout the session and were separated at the end by under a tenth of a second.
Sam Lowes once again sets provisional pole, half a second faster than his rival Kenan Sofuoglu. Jack Kennedy continues to impress with the last provisional front row place. while David Salom, fourth fastest and returning from injury, is the only other rider within a second of the fast Lowes.
Tom Sykes made the most of the clearing conditions and rode into his familiar top spot, fresh from his double victory two weeks ago. Michel Fabrizio continued his run of good form, setting the second fastest time of the morning.
After a damn grey morning, Sam Lowes opened the weekend with a fastest lap some five seconds off the record, demonstrating that the track wasn't ready for the fast times. The session was split with a red flagged six minutes from the end, but there were no major incidents recorded.
The reduced grid in World Superbike really shows up when one or two riders are injured and cannot race. Losing both Leon Haslam and Carlos Checa from the competition today hammered home the reasoning behind Dorna's proposed financial limiting, especially after the predictable departure of Effenbert Liberty Racing. Seventeen riders competed for points in the second race, meaning only two of them wouldn't score points. With the good weather, there were luckily very few DNFs, which would have made it look even worse. When MotoGP was in this position, defibrillators were charged, flags were run up poles, mourners wailed and changes were forced through for the good of the sport. World Superbike is getting close to this stage and something needs to be done.