The World Superbike machines are back on track after a long winter lay-off, at the first day of the official WSBK test at Portimao. Fastest man on track on Wednesday morning was Castrol Honda's Johnny Rea, the Ulsterman taking an early lead and not relinquishing it. The margin of his lead was cut drastically: Rea had over a second and a half early in the session, but by the time the checkered flag fell, Liberty Ducati's Jakub Smrz had cut that back to under six hundredths of a second.
For dedicated motorcycle racing fans, the months of December and January are the toughest of the year. Other than the occasional team launch and the odd private test - which are often rather secretive affairs - very little stirs in the world of motorcycle racing, and the events which are taking place are no substitute for real motorcycles posting real times on real tracks. So fans are forced to grit their teeth and hang on, waiting for better times.
The wet weather continues to thwart any attempts at testing racing motorcycles. After the Moto2 test at Jerez was largely lost to rain, the first day of testing for a large part of the World Superbike paddock at Portimao suffered a similarly damp fate. With rain falling nearly all day, the assembled riders barely got out onto the track, posting just a few laps before heading back into the pits.
The FIM has just released an updated version of the 2011 World Superbike calendar, which includes the full schedule of WSBK and WSS, as well as the supporting Superstock series. The dates in the provisional calendar remain unchanged, but the circuits are now all confirmed, removing the last To Be Announced dates from the provisional calendar. As reported earlier, Donington makes a return on the WSBK schedule, with what looks likely to be a chilly European WSBK round in late March.
The dates of the official tests for the World Superbike series were announced today by Infront Motorsports, the organizers of WSBK. The locations of the two official tests are no surprise: the first three-day test is to be held at Portimao, on Portugal's Algarve coast, from January 26th through 28th, 2011.
With the 2010 World Superbike season at an end, and the calendars for MotoGP and Formula 1 mostly settled, the FIM have announced the provisional calendar for the 2011 season. World Superbikes kicks off as ever in Australia, at Phillip Island, after a test the week before. A month later - and the week after the MotoGP season gets underway - the WSBK paddock heads back to Europe, for the European round at a circuit yet to be decided upon. This was the weekend that used to be at Valencia, but pressure from Dorna is believed to have kept the WSBK series out of that track.
“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.” -- Niccolo Machiavelli
Max Biaggi is an enigma. The man they call the Roman Emperor is outwardly charming and friendly but is best known for his darker side -- a career punctuated by trackside punch-ups both public and private, a reputation of playing team politics for keeps and a proclivity to slag on his current employer in the press, an unfortunate trait that ultimately earned him the bum's rush out of the MotoGP Paddock.
Although the loss of the live video feed from the World Superbike website is greatly lamented, Infront Motor Sports has some small consolation. On the World Superbike Youtube channel, IMS have put up highlight reels from this weekend's racing, showing the best of the action from both World Superbike races and the World Supersport races at Portimao. What better way to start the week than with a quick recap of the races?
World Superbike Race 1 highlights:
World Superbike Race 2 highlights:
Results and summary of World Superbike Race 2 at Portimao: