Weather Fails To Cooperate With World Superbike Teams At Portimao

The weather continues its stubborn refusal to cooperate with preparation for the 2015 World Superbike season. After rain and cold conditions plagued the earlier test at the Motorland Aragon circuit, the rain halted testing for the best part of two days at Portimao. Wednesday was a complete washout, while a wet track hampered progress on Thursday morning. 

Despite the cold, the assembled teams were able to ride almost continuously after lunchtime, until the track closed at 6pm. Cramming two days of testing into an afternoon was difficult, the teams concentrating on working with the 2015 version of their machines, incorporating the major rule changes new for this year. The conditions were not conducive to fast lap times: the quickest time reported was set by Leon Haslam on the Red Devils Roma Aprilia, but that was still over a second slower than the race lap record set by Tom Sykes back in 2013. Suzuki's Alex Lowes was half a second behind Haslam, matched by Ducati's Chaz Davies. Davide Giuliano and Sylvain Barrier were a couple of tenths behind Lowes and Davies, while Randy De Puniet was nearly a second slower than Barrier, and only a fraction quicker than World Superbike newcomer Jordi Torres.

Raising a few eyebrows was the return of Max Biaggi, this time in his role of official Aprilia tester, taking over the job from Alex Hofmann, who has departed to help develop the KTM MotoGP bike with Dani Pedrosa's former crew chief, Mike Leitner. Biaggi was a little off the pace, not helped by a crash on Wednesday, in which he hurt his shoulder. Biaggi has been tasked with testing both the development version of the World Superbike machine, as well has helping to work on Aprilia's MotoGP bike. His return to testing has fueled rumors of a possible return to racing, though at 43, that would be difficult. Biaggi has commentary commitments with Italian TV for 2015, and so the prospect of seeing Biaggi racing seems remote. 

Unofficial times, courtesy of press releases and GPOne.com:

Rider Bike Time Diff Previous
Leon Haslam Aprilia 1:43.5    
Alex Lowes Suzuki 1:44.0 0.5 0.5
Chaz Davies Ducati 1:44.0 0.5 0.0
Davide Giugliano Ducati 1:44.5 1.0 0.5
Sylvain Barrier BMW 1:44.8 1.3 0.3
Randy De Puniet Suzuki 1:45.7 2.2 0.9
Jordi Torres Aprilia 1:45.9 2.4 0.2
Max Biaggi Aprilia 1:46.4 2.9 0.5

 

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Comments

Too bad the weather is limiting what the teams are being able to do and test thus far, but at least they are riding again. I am hopeful that this will be a break-out year for Alex, Randy and team Suzuki. Shock the world, boys!

Meanwhile, look who ended up on top of the time sheet. I am happy that Leon has found a good ride. He has earned it, man! He has battled with that tired old Fire Blade for years now and just never could find his groove on that thing. I remember tending to what was left of the bike after that nasty wreck at Laguna out on turn 4 during the early stages of race 1 a couple of years ago. That was a wild scene, man! And that is one tough hombre to be able to limp away from that one. So I am glad he is on the Ape this year; I think he has a chance to do well on this machine. On the surface of it though, I would say the Kaws and the Ducs are going to be the ones up front, at least to start. We will soon find out!