Pirelli will continue to supply tires to all classes in the World Superbike championship for the foreseeable future. The Italian tire manufacturer has extended their current contract with Dorna through the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Press releases from the teams and the series organizer ahead of this weekend's French round of WorldSBK, where Jonathan Rea has his first chance to become 2017 WorldSBK champion:
WorldSBK: Match Point
Could we see Rea make history in France?
A return to WorldSBK with the bike that he came so close to winning the championship on. It all appeared like a dream opportunity for Eugene Laverty to put himself into a position to win the title. The dream quickly turned to a nightmare and from the start of winter testing it was clear that major work needed to be done to return the RSV4 to the front.
Moving to the Milwaukee Aprilia squad understandably led to heightened expectations. In their second year in WorldSBK the former British Superbike champions were expected to make a leap forward. Teething problems were expected with the switch from BMW to Aprilia, but not the struggles that lay ahead.
“During the winter you can go in the wrong direction with the bike,” commented Laverty. “Unfortunately, that was the case for us. It wasn't the direction that I would have taken the bike and that’s why right away from early in the season I was starting to steer it back to how I rode the bike four years ago. It took us a few rounds to get the right base and we’ve been trying to progress since then.
Andrea Iannone has been something of an enigma since joining Suzuki. The Italian was blisteringly quick last year on the Ducati, which is one of the reasons Ducati took so long to choose between him and Andrea Dovizioso after they signed Jorge Lorenzo to the factory team. He was fast when he jumped on the Suzuki GSX-RR for the first time at the Valencia test, then carried that speed to Sepang, where he finished as second quickest overall.
Things have gone downhill since then. The Italian slipped down the order at the Phillip Island, then trailed further behind at the Qatar test. His season has gone from bad to worse since racing started: he has five DNFs from 13 races, and when he finishes, he usually ends up around tenth. His best result so far has been a seventh place in Texas, but that was the exception, not the rule.
He currently sits in sixteenth in the championship, with a paltry 33 points. Iannone, race winner in Austria last year, sits behind both Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rookies, and behind a total of seven riders on satellite bikes. His rookie teammate, who has spent most of the season banged up with injury, is threatening to beat him more and more regularly. How to solve an issue like Andrea Iannone?
It has been a busy day test on the Iberian peninsula. A day after the Portuguese round of WorldSBK, a large part of the Superbike grid stayed on for a day of testing. After an indomitable performance during the weekend, Jonathan Rea ended the day as fastest, the Kawasaki man finishing nearly four tenths ahead of the Ducati of Chaz Davies, while Marco Melandri was third quickest.
With Tom Sykes absent due to injury, Toprak Razgatlioglu, Superstock 1000 rider and protégé of Kenan Sofuoglu, took over the reigns of the Yorkshireman's Kawasaki ZX-10RR. Razgatlioglu was as impressive on a Superbike as he has been on a Superstock machine, posting a string of fast laps and ending the day in fourth, just under a second slower than reigning world champion Jonathan Rea.
Notes from Portimao from our man on the ground:
WorldSBK standings after race 2 in Portugal:
Press releases from the teams and series organizer after Sunday's races in Portugal:
For the last race of the weekend, World Superbike race two, the wind was lower than it has been most of the weekend. Twenty laps would determine the winner with the reverse grid putting some interesting names at the front. Stefan Bradl was unable to start due to a wrist injury from his crash yesterday.
Notes on WorldSBK race 1 from our man on the ground at Portimao: