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:
|Randy De Puniet||Suzuki||1:45.7||2.2||0.9|