Though the track in Portugal remained stubbornly damp, the World Supersport riders once again took to the track en masse, to get more track time during the second day of the official WSBK test at Portimao. This time it was the turn of the Yamahas to star, Italian "Rocker" Luca Scassa taking top spot ahead of his BE1 teammate Chaz Davies. The BE1 team's last minute decision to swap machinery from Triumph to Yamaha appears to have paid off, at least in the wet.
With the rain easing off since this morning, the afternoon saw most of the WSBK riders venture out on the second day of testing at Portimao. The two main exceptions were the factory Aprilia riders of Max Biaggi and Leon Camier, who, luckily as it turned out, had been booked to spend the day at a Piaggio event, before flying back to Portimao in the afternoon.
The track remains wet at Portimao, but with temperatures climbing, most of the World Supersport riders present decided to brave the conditions and take to the track. Parkalgar's brand new rider Sam Lowes continues to impress, setting the fastest time of the session, ahead of PTR Bogdanka's James Ellison, a seasoned veteran, though not on a World Supersport machine. Ellison and Lowes were the only two riders to get under the two minute mark, BE1's Luca Scassa taking 3rd spot just shy of two minutes, with Kawasaki's Broc Parkes four tenths behind Scassa.
The weather on Portugal's Algarve coast turned cold and wet overnight, making the prospect of running a lot of laps in pre-season testing a deeply unappealing one to most riders. While most chose to stay in their garages (or like Johnny Rea, seek treatment in the medical center), eight dauntless souls braved the rain and worked on a wet weather setting for the 2011 World Superbike machines. Of the fearless, Carlos Checa was fastest on the Althea Ducati, finishing ahead of Eugene Laverty and Nori Haga. The weather prospects are looking better for this afternoon.
Valentino Rossi took to the track today, to assess the state of his shoulder ahead of the resumption of official testing for the MotoGP class next week. Banned from testing a MotoGP bike, Rossi instead tested a WSBK-spec Ducati 1198SP, putting in a respectable 25 laps of the Italian circuit, just a few miles from his home, to judge his strength, mobility and fitness.
Question marks continue to hang over the Italian Dream combination of Valentino Rossi and Ducati, as Rossi's recovery from shoulder surgery is proceeding at a much slower pace than the Italian had hoped for. Rossi had voiced these fears at the Ducati's Wrooom! launch event in Italy two weeks ago, telling the assembled press that he did not expect to be at full fitness until the end of April at the earliest.
Parkalgar Honda rookie Sam Lowes proved the confidence which team manager Simon Buckmaster had in the youngster by topping the timesheets during the afternoon session on the first day of the official Portimao World Supersport test. Lowes just edged out David Salom, the Spaniard putting in another impressive time on the Motocard.com Kawasaki, finishing ahead of his Australian teammate Broc Parkes for the second session in a row.
The World Superbike machines are back on track after a long winter lay-off, at the first day of the official WSBK test at Portimao. Fastest man on track on Wednesday morning was Castrol Honda's Johnny Rea, the Ulsterman taking an early lead and not relinquishing it. The margin of his lead was cut drastically: Rea had over a second and a half early in the session, but by the time the checkered flag fell, Liberty Ducati's Jakub Smrz had cut that back to under six hundredths of a second.
For dedicated motorcycle racing fans, the months of December and January are the toughest of the year. Other than the occasional team launch and the odd private test - which are often rather secretive affairs - very little stirs in the world of motorcycle racing, and the events which are taking place are no substitute for real motorcycles posting real times on real tracks. So fans are forced to grit their teeth and hang on, waiting for better times.
The provisional entry list for the 2011 World Supersport class, as issued by the FIM:
The provisional line-up for the 2011 World Superbike class, as issued by the FIM:
Below is the "provisional" MotoGP entry list issued by the FIM. Given the cost and complexity of a MotoGP entry, it should be regarded as anything but provisional, as all of the names are confirmed, and no new entries are expected, despite rumors that other manufacturers may make a surprise return.
Provisional Moto2 rider list for the 2011 season: