Results and Summary:
Results and summary of Superpole:
Leon Haslam returned to the top of the timesheets in the final session of free practice for the World Superbike class at Portimao. The Alstare Suzuki rider took over from Sterilgarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow who had led for the first half of the session. Althea Ducati's Shane Byrne made it an all-British top 3, with Byrne's teammate Carlos Checa finishing in 4th.
Results of FP2 for the World Superbike class:
With four weeks between the Phillip Island and Portimao rounds of World Superbikes, Kawasaki's Chris Vermeulen had hoped to have sufficient time to recover from the horrific knee injury he suffered in a crash. Sadly for the Australian, that has not proved to be the case, and after taking a lap of the demanding Portuguese circuit, Vermeulen decided to pull out of the event. Here he is, explaining the decision in a video posted on his Youtube channel yesterday:
Jakub Smrz shook up the World Superbike field by shooting to the top of the timesheets and snatching provisional pole during the second session of qualifying at Portimao. The Czech Pata S&G rider looked like leading a Ducati clean sweep lat on in the session, Smrz leading Xerox Ducati's Michel Fabrizio and Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa, with only Leon Haslam the only non-Ducati on the front row, holding off Noriyuki Haga to keep 4th. But the final minutes of practice saw the field shake out and some diversity of equipment emerge.
Smrz hung on to the provisional pole, but only on a technicality, with Aprilia's Max Biaggi setting the same time as the Pata S&G rider. Michel Fabrizio followed a whisper behind, just seven thousandths separating his time from Smrz' and Biaggi's, while a relatively fast thirty four thosuandths separated 4th place man Leon Haslam from Smrz. Johnny Rea took 5th, just a few thousandths behind, and five hundredths slower than Smrz and Biaggi.
Carlos Checa ended the session in 6th, the first man to be over a tenth of a second behind Smrz, while James Toseland took 7th on the Sterilgarda Yamaha and Nori Haga finished in 8th. Tom Sykes set a very respectable 9th fastest time, just under half a second from Smrz and Biaggi.
Championship leader Leon Haslam sits on provisional pole after the first session of qualifying for the World Superbike class at Portimao, the Alstare Suzuki rider continuing his strong start to the season and the second round of WSBK. The young Briton jumped to the top of the timesheets with 10 minutes to go, taking provisional pole from his fellow countryman Sterilgarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow.
Indeed, British riders dominated much of the session, with the top 4 all hailing from Albion for the second half of practice, with only occasional forays by Michel Fabrizio and Carlos Checa disrupting British dominance. But by the end of the session, the two Ducatis had driven a wedge between the Brits, Max Biaggi joining Fabrizio and Checa to take 4th. The two Sterilgarda Yamahas finished in 5th and 6th, with James Toseland just getting the better of his young teammate Cal Crutchlow, while Shakey Byrne on the other Althea Ducati took 7th place ahead of the Pata S&G bike of Jakub Smrz.
In the first session of free practice for the World Superbike class at Portimao, James Toseland took top honors, stealing the lead from fellow Brit Leon Haslam in the final minutes. Haslam had shot to the top of the timesheets in the final ten minutes, after a bevy of Italians and Italian motorcycles - in the shape of Aprilia's Maxi Biaggi and Ducati's Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga - had made the running for much of the session. Ten Kate Honda's Max Neukirchner took 3rd spot, while Max Biaggi redeemed his earlier provisional front row place in the final minutes to take 4th
Results of FP1 for the World Superbike class:
When MotoMatters.com learned that FIM President Vito Ippolito would be visiting Utrecht, just a few miles from MM HQ, we seized on the opportunity to corner the Venezuelan and ask some of the burning questions surrounding motorcycle racing. Questions such as: How will the new MotoGP rules help to cut costs? Exactly what definition of "production bike" is used in the contract between the FIM and Infront Motor Sports for World Superbikes? How will Moto2 affect rider development? And what about electric vehicles and the TTXGP?
Despite it being nearly four weeks since the World Superbike paddock last convened at Phillip Island, the weekend - and the runup to that weekend - is having knock on effects on the rider lineup of the series. Before the weekend had even started, Australian rider Broc Parkes broke a tibia during training, and was replaced on the Echo CRS Honda by fellow Australian Josh Brookes. Parkes is still not fully fit to race, and so will be replaced by South African Sheridan Morais at Portimao.
Morais was a substitute rider last year, taking the place of Makoto Tamada in Paul Bird's Kawasaki World Superbike squad. The South African has switched manufacturers this winter, and is currently campaigning an Aprilia RSV4 in the South African Superbike series.
Ruben Xaus' 2010 World Superbike campaign got off to a tumultuous start, with four crashes during practice for the first round at Phillip Island. After a final error during the morning warmup, which saw Xaus slam into Noriyuki Haga and end the session badly shaken up, the BMW Motorrad team elected to sit Xaus out for the opening two races, considering it too much of a risk to allow the Spaniard to race.
That decision triggered a wave of speculation about the future of Ruben Xaus at BMW. Rumors seeping out of the World Superbike paddock suggested that BMW were tired of Xaus' continuous crashing, which all too often forced Xaus to either ride injured or miss races while he recovered. It was said that BMW were actively seeking to replace Xaus, even though the season had only just got underway.
In the run up to the 2010 US World Superbike round in Utah, Miller Motorsports Park has been organizing a series of telephone press conferences with riders participating in the World Superbike and World Supersport series this season. Yesterday, it was the turn of Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam, son of Rocket Ron and current championship leader after the first two races at Phillip Island. Haslam is always an interesting interview subject, as the excellent interview which Jim Race of MotoGPOD did a couple of weeks' ago proved, and Tuesday's conference was no exception. Among the subjects Haslam touches upon are how he got into roadracing; the benefits of riding a range of machinery before landing a factory ride; the relative merits of good rides in Moto2, MotoGP and World Superbikes; and last but not least the quality of Virgin Airlines complimentary pyjamas. Find out all about it in the transcript below:
World Superbike's return to South Africa in 2009 after an absence of seven years was to be the first attempt to restore the long history which South Africa has with international motorcycle racing. The initial race at Kyalami was judged to be a success - with the exception of Regis Laconi's terrible injury on his first full lap out of the pits - and the paddock and fans were all eagerly anticipating further visits to the spectacular South African circuit.
Their pleasure is to be short-lived, however. The 2010 round of World Superbikes at Kyalami will be the last visit the series pays to the South African circuit for the foreseeable future, it emerged last week. The culprit - as ever - is the global economic crisis. The financial meltdown has forced the Gauteng economic development to cut costs, and one of the areas it decided to cut was in the investment the council had made in international motorsports through the Gauteng Motorsports Company. According to reports in the South African newspaper The Star, the contracts with the organizers of the World Superbike round and the V8 Superstars races had been settled amicably, with penalty payments totalling 115 million Rand (US$ 18 million). By canceling the contracts - due to run through 2013 - the Gauteng province would reportedly save 796 million Rand (US$ 109 million).
The enormous success of MotoMatters.com has seen our traffic grow tenfold over the past three years, and we are starting to become the victims of our own success. We have completely outgrown our current hosting situation, and after DNS problems made MotoMatters.com unreachable for a small part of our readers earlier this year, it was clear we had to act.
The time has now come for us to switch to a bigger, better and faster server. Unfortunately, this means some inconvenience for our readers for the next week or so, as the internet gets used to the idea that http://www.motomatters.com is located on a different server. Consequently, the website could become unreachable for a short length of time, and mail may not be delivered correctly.
Fortunately, this situation should not last too long. We're hoping everything should be back to normal by next Monday at the very latest, though the inconvenience should only last for a couple of days.
Whenever fans talk of their dreams of being a world famous motorcycle racer, they have in their minds the image of travelling from circuit to circuit, and focusing on nothing but racing. Of course, life isn't like that, and one of the duties of a factory World Superbike rider is to turn up at motorcycle shows, corporate PR events and a host of other occasions to help market the brand helping to pay their wages. James Toseland understands this, and performs this task admirably, taking advantage of the situation to practice his second passion, playing the piano, at such affairs.
Toseland is currently in Rome for the MotoDays exhibition, helping Yamaha to launch their brand new FZ8 naked bike. While he was there, our friends over at GPOne.com took the opportunity to catch up with him, and did a short video interview with the Sterilgarda Yamaha rider. In the interview, Toseland talks about the transition from MotoGP to World Superbike, his expectations of Portimao, and why so many British riders are in the World Superbike series. Here's the video from GPOne.com:
The rider lineup for the 2010 World Superbike Season: