The RES Software Veidec Racing Team has announced that Colombian Martin Cardenas will replace the injured Robbin Harms at Portimao. Harms, who hails from Denmark, is still recuperating from deep back and rib bruises incurred in the warm-up session at the Imola round. Cardenas, who raced this year for team M4 Emgo Suzuki in the AMA Daytona Sportbike class, where he finished the year in third place, has 250 GP experience and is widely regarded as one of the rising stars on the American racing scene.
Both MotoGP and World Superbikes are in action this weekend, and a grand total of four titles could be wrapped up on Sunday. At Sepang, Valentino Rossi could secure his 7th MotoGP title on Sunday, while Hiroshi Aoyama could clinch the last ever 250cc world title. Several hours later, at the last WSBK round at Portimao in Portugal, the World Superbike title is likely to go down to the wire, with little to choose between Noriyuki Haga and Ben Spies. Between the two World Superbike races, Cal Crutchlow looks likely to secure the World Supersport championship.
Of course, it's not quite as simple as all that, and so below is a guide to who needs to finish where in which races to wrap up the championship. The 125cc class already has a champion, with Julian Simon clinching the title after beating Aspar team mate Bradley Smith at Phillip Island last weekend.
In yet another depressing occurance of the Economic Crisis Blues, Stiggy Racing, already sorely beset by financial woes, has announced that they can't afford to support Australian Ant West in the final race of the World Supersport season at Portimao. The latter part of this year's campaign has been a war of attrition for Stiggy, first cutting down to one rider per series and then severing ties with the financial portion of the team, S2 Racing. West, who has had an uneven year but still lies fifth in the point standings, is presently unsigned for 2010 and will be in attendance for the apres-race test, apparently trolling for a ride in 2010.
With Shinya Nakano returning to the fold at Portimao after an injury plagued rookie season in World Superbike, Aprilia Racing will dig deep and field a third bike for newly-crowned British Superbike champion Leon Camier. The ride for Camier is a second audition for a seat on the team after his debut with the squad at Magny Cours showed flashes of promise but was marred by technical difficulties. Nakano, who has had difficulties both with injuries and a self-admitted problem adapting his 250 based style to superbikes, is widely believed to be on his way out of the factory squad.Alex DeAngelis had been linked to the second seat but rumors are increasing that the San Marinan will take a ride with Scot Honda in MotoGP. Sterilgarda Ducati's Shane "Shakey" Byrne is also considered a contender for the Aprilia ride.
Sylvain Guintoli has had a tough season this year. Forced to switch to the British Superbike series at the end of last season once his tenure with the Pramac Ducati team was at an end, he made a fantastic debut, winning his first two races aboard a Superbike, following that up with a double podium. It all went wrong for him after that, horribly fracturing his leg in a warm-up-lap pile-up caused by Australian Josh Brookes.
With Shinya Nakano out for the rest of the season with an injury, Aprilia are in need of a replacement rider for the World Superbike rounds at Magny-Cours and Portimao. Marco Simoncelli returns to his day job as factory Gilera 250cc rider this weekend at Estoril, and Aprilia test rider Alex Hofmann has duties of his own as a TV presenter for the German-language sports channel DSF at the Portuguese Grand Prix.
Thus Aprilia is taking the opportunity of the two final races of the year to give a chance to candidates for the factory seat next year. Their main target is newly-crowned BSB champion Leon Camier, according to the Swiss magazine SpeedWeek. The Airwaves Yamaha rider wrapped up the BSB title last weekend at Silverstone, and has made no secret of his desire to make the switch to the World Superbike series next season. And so Camier has the Magny-Cours and Portimao WSBK rounds to secure a ride in the WSBK paddock for 2010 with a few good results.
Though Camier's talent is beyond question, whether the Aprilia is the best vehicle for showcasing that talent is another matter altogether. The RSV4 is by far the most compact - even minuscule - of the current Superbikes, and Camier is one of the tallest men in racing. Max Biaggi fits on the RSV4 neatly, but the Roman Emperor is no giant. Marco Simoncelli, at 6' or 1.83m, looked cramped on the bike, so how Camier, at 6'2 or 1.89m will fit on the RSV4 remains to be seen.
Simoncelli has also set the bar high for the young Briton. The reigning 250 World Champion came into the series as a wildcard at Imola, crashing out of 5th in race 1 and getting on the podium in race 2. As reigning BSB champion, Camier will have goals which, if not quite as high, will still be to finish well inside the top 10. Aboard a machine which will make him look like he is riding a pocket bike, that may be a tough ask.
The World Superbike tests at Portugal's Portimao circuit last week were more than just the first opportunity for the World Superbike and World Supersport riders to take to the track this year, it also marked the official opening of the 2009 World Superbike season. To mark that fact, InFront Motor Sports CEO Paolo Flammini spoke to journalists at the launch to present the riders and teams officially. During the presentation, he also shared some of his thoughts on the future of the series, and its relationship with MotoGP.
Shane Byrne was once again the fastest rider in the first running of the new Superpole format for World Superbikes, which takes the form of Formula 1-style "knock out" qualifying: Three sessions of 12 minutes, with a cut down to the 16 fastest to start the second session, and down to 8 to start the final session. Rain disrupted the second session, upsetting proceedings a little and showing that the new procedure can catch people out in qualifying, just as the old procedure did.
|1.||Byrne S.||GBR||Ducati 1098R||1'43.874|
|2.||Neukirchner M.||GER||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1'43.965|
|3.||Rea J.||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1'44.144|
|4.||Haga N.||JPN||Ducati 1098R||1'44.157|
|5.||Haslam L.||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1'44.217|
|6.||Corser T.||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||1'44.261|
|7.||Kagayama Y.||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1'44.586|
|8.||Laconi R.||FRA||Ducati 1098R||1'47.057|
|9.||Checa C.||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||1'49.387|
|10.||Fabrizio M.||ITA||Ducati 1098R||1'52.340|
|11.||Nakano S.||JPN||Aprilia RSV4||1'56.553|
|12.||Biaggi M.||ITA||Aprilia RSV4||1'56.643|
|13.||Spies B.||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||1'44.119|
|14.||Smrz J.||CZE||Ducati 1098R||1'45.182|
|15.||Sykes T.||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||1'45.624|
|16.||Kiyonari R.||JPN||Honda CBR1000RR||1'45.931|
|17.||Parkes B.||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1'46.181|
|18.||Salom D.||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1'46.260|
|19.||Polita A.||ITA||Ducati 1098R||1'46.849|
|20.||Roberts B.||AUS||Ducati 1098R||1'46.897|
Overall best times from the three day session, all of which were set on Saturday:
After the morning session was lashed by rain, the afternoon session for the World Supersport riders was at least dry, if also very windy. At the end of day it was 2007 champion Kenan Sofuoglu who put his name at the top of the timesheets, and a strong showing throughout the three-day test showed he means business on his return to the class. Sofuoglu finished ahead of Triumph's Gianluca Nannelli, the Italian putting on a strong showing to finish with the second fastest time of the day, ahead of Joan Lascorz on the Kawasaki, the other rider who has dominated the proceedings in Portugal.
The first session for the Superbike riders was stopped after just a few minutes. The red flag was shown after Yukio Kagayama's Suzuki left oil on the track, and the session was canceled after the heavy rain made clearing it up too difficult. At the time, Michel Fabrizio was quickest, ahead of Ben Spies.
Testing concludes this afternoon. If the weather hasn't scared everyone off, as according to Dutch site Racesport.nl, this afternoon's World Supersport session could be canceled.