Press release previews issued by the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, as well as the WSBK press office, ahead of this weekend's round at Portimao in Portugal:
BMW Motorrad Motorsport - WSBK - Portimao - Preview
Munich/Stephanskirchen, 17th September 2012. Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport heads to the south of Portugal this week, as the season enters the finishing straight. The “Autódromo Internactional do Algarve” will host the penultimate round of the 2012 FIM Superbike World Championship from 21st to 23rd September. The circuit, which was opened in 2008, welcomes the Superbike World Championship for the fifth time this season.
Twelve race weekends into the season, BMW factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) is currently second in the Riders’ Championship on 308.5 points – 9.5 points behind leader Max Biaggi (ITA). Leon Haslam (GBR) has scored 189 points on his BMW S 1000 RR this season, putting him seventh overall. In the Manufacturers’ Championship, BMW currently has 377 points and lies second, 7.5 points behind leader Aprilia.
The BMW Motorrad factory riders have good memories of the Algarve: Marco was making his debut in Portimão last year and claimed victory in the second race. Leon has finished on the podium on three occasions in Portugal. The Brit injured his left shoulder and elbow in crashes in Moscow (RUS) and at the Nürburgring (GER). However, as medical examinations confirmed last week, these injuries are fortunately not serious.
Portimão from the rider’s point of view:
“It looks like we are going to have good weather at Portugal, which I am very happy about. I certainly expect tough races. There are just two rounds to go and the championship is still very open for quite a few riders, so it will be not easy but very interesting. I will approach the weekend as I always do. In preparation I trained a lot back home and in Portimão I will try to enjoy the ride. The whole team and I will do our best and just try to be consistent and fast in both races.
Portimão is one of the most beautiful race tracks in the world. The layout is unbelievable. There are up and down sections like you find on no other race track and the corners are pretty fast. Last year I was racing there for the first time and I had a good result. The races are not going to be easy because it will definitely be close between many riders.”
“Germany was pretty tough; I landed on my shoulder in two more crashes. I had some MRI scans, the outcome of which was quite positive. There is no tendon damage, just at the ligament and some fluid in the joint. It is nothing that a rest before the next race in Portugal won’t sort out. I also had a virus in Germany, so last week I was recovering from that too. I have spent some time relaxing and am now looking forward to Portimão.
The race track is very different; it is very up and down and quite aggressive. It is one of the circuits I have enjoyed in the past. Last year we had a tough time but during the tests we have done there over the winter we were quite competitive so I am looking forward to returning with this bike. As always we will push for the win, which we know we are capable of. We just need a little bit more luck and then we can achieve that target.”
Portimão from a technical point of view:
Andrea Dosoli (Head of Race Operations):
“After the difficult and unlucky races at the Nürburgring we are all looking forward to Portimão. The whole team is highly motivated to win back the points we have lost during the two races on German soil. The Portuguese race track, with its uphill turns, downhill braking and the never-ending elevation changes, is the perfect playground for our riders and crews. It will be demanding for the tyres and for the riders, whose riding skills and physical condition will face a tough test.
Leon’s shoulder and elbow injuries, ‘mementos’ from the recent crashes in Moscow and at the Nürburgring, were worrying all of us. However, we are now confident that after the medical treatment and a few days rest he will be able to show all his talent. Leon knows the podium in Portimão well, having been on it three times in the past. Marco also has a special memory of the Portuguese track; he won the last race of the 2011 season there. He has already forgotten the unlucky German races. Now he, like all of us, is very motivated and convinced that our package will be competitive again in Portugal. It will be a difficult weekend, our competitors are becoming stronger and stronger, but we are well prepared and ready to fight!”
Portimão from Pirelli’s point of view:
For the penultimate round of the 2012 Superbike World Championship Pirelli will once again provide the riders with multiple slick solutions as well as intermediate and wet tyres and the Superpole qualifier. More specifically, there will be three alternatives on the front: two in the SC1 compound (the N1159 as the 2012 standard SC1 and the P1280 as an alternative development solution) and one SC2 mid-hard, the P773, which has already been used during the season on various occasions.
For the rear, on the other hand, Pirelli is bringing five different tyres. There will be two in SC0 compound, two in SC1 and one in SC2. The two SC0 solutions are the R874 in an oversized profile version and the R548, both already used for the Brno round. The 2012 standard SC1 (P1060) will join these, as well as the development tyre, the R302, both already widely used in other rounds of the 2012 season. The final alternative for the rear will be the SC2 N1157 for use in the event of very low temperatures. The “Autodrómo Internacional do Algarve”, a 4,658 metre track with nine right hand turns and six left handers is definitely one of the circuits that most enhances the ability of a tyre to perform in very different conditions due to the various uphill and downhill sections and the different radius turns.
Portimão is a coastal town on the Algarve in the south of Portugal with a population of 50,000. It is located almost 300 kilometres south of the capital of Lisbon and about 70 kilometres west of Faro. Tourists love the picturesque region with its many beaches, impressive cliffs, golf courses and many other leisure opportunities. Portimão also enjoys a good reputation when it comes to motor racing. Its unique layout makes the “Autódromo Internacional do Algarve” popular among automobile drivers and motorcyclists alike. The circuit belongs to the “Algarve Motor Park”, which is also home to a kart track and a racing driver school.
The ultra-modern racetrack is located in the hilly landscape around Portimão. It was completed in October 2008 and opened officially when it hosted the finale of the FIM Superbike World Championship on 2nd November of the same year. Since then, the series has visited Portimão every year. The circuit in the Algarve has also become a permanent fixture on the calendar of many other motorcycle and automobile championships. The demanding layout and generally good weather conditions also make Portimão a popular test track.
Portimão is regarded by some racing riders and drivers as one of the most beautiful tracks in the world. The circuit is nestled in the hilly landscape and consequently features many undulating sections. A number of changes in direction and gradient, crests, some complex sections, a lot of long corners and a winding infield make the circuit a real challenge for riders and teams alike. The riders must show plenty of courage to push their bikes to the limit here, while the teams must find the right set-up to cope with all these characteristics. Good steering response is vital, particularly when accelerating out of the turns. When working on the set-up of the bike, the mechanics must also bear in mind that the front wheels of the powerful superbikes can easily lose contact with the ground as they race over the crests. One key point is the final turn: here, it is important to take enough speed out of the corner and onto the start-finish straight, which is almost one kilometre in length.
BMW Motorrad factory rider Marco Melandri (ITA) made his first appearance in Portimão last year, picking up another victory to round off his debut season in the Superbike World Championship. His team-mate Leon Haslam (GBR) has stood on the podium on three occasions in the past. Last winter Team BMW Motorrad Motorsport spent time testing in Portimão, in order to prepare for the current season.
Honda customers welcome in Portimao Superbike garage
Honda-owning race fans visiting Portimao in Portugal for next weekend’s (21-23 September) 13th round World Superbike championship races are being offered another fantastic opportunity to watch the Honda World Superbike Team at work.
For the final time this season, the team will be erecting its special pit display system in its race garage with clear panels on one side, offering a close view of the riders and technicians at work during the weekend’s practice and qualifying sessions.
The system offers visitors an eye-level view of wheel changes, suspension adjustments and rider de-briefs. It’s all a fascinating insight into the workings of a world championship motorcycle racing team.
To gain access to the Portimao garage, Honda owners will simply need to show their vehicle’s registration certificate at the garage door. In return, they will receive a team wristband to allow them into the garage, but paddock access must be arranged separately.
Team manager, Ronald ten Kate, commented: “It’s the last time this season that we’ll be using the viewing gallery in our pitbox, and it’s a pleasure to be doing it at Portimao. It’s a circuit we all enjoy racing at and hopefully that enthusiasm will shine through in some positive results next weekend.”
Jonathan Rea, who rides for the team and took pole position and two podium finishes at Portimao last season, said, “I’m in the middle of a busy few weeks, combining my World Superbike duties with some MotoGP rides, but it’s always a pleasure to go to Portimao. I really like the track and I’ve gone well there in the past. Hopefully, some of our Honda guests will see a bit more of that this weekend.”
Rea reverts to World Superbike mode for Portugal
Jonathan Rea returns to World Superbike action this weekend (21-23 September) to contest the penultimate round of the 2012 series. He will join Honda World Superbike team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama at the undulating and challenging Autódromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimao in Portugal.
Rea made his MotoGP debut with Honda last Sunday at Misano in Italy, standing in for the injured Casey Stoner and finishing in a creditable eighth place. But he is relishing the prospect of returning to the 4.592km Portimao circuit on his Honda Fireblade in the third instalment of his five-week, back-to-back SBK-MotoGP odyssey.
The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland contested his first World Superbike races at Portimao in the final round of the 2008 season and immediately developed a special affinity with the demanding circuit. Rea, who has been on the Portuguese rostrum in each of his five race finishes since that debut, took pole position and two third places in the corresponding SBK round last season.
In stark contrast, Rea’s CBR1000RR-mounted team-mate, Hiroshi Aoyama, has never ridden at the roller-coaster Portimao circuit, but has been studying previous race videos intently before his first visit this weekend.
The 30-year-old Japanese rider will be looking to harness the form he displayed at another new circuit recently – Moscow Raceway in Russia – where he competed in his first Superpole qualifying sessions.
I’m really looking forward to this weekend because I love riding at Portimao – it’s a very challenging circuit from a rider’s point of view. It’s also where I had my first World Superbike race so it holds some special memories for me. We made some positive steps with the Fireblade at Nurburgring but there’s still lots more to do, especially with the electronics, working on acceleration on the side of the tyre to improve corner exit. We also need to develop the engine characteristics to smooth out the power delivery, so there’s a bit to do. It certainly won’t be easy but I think we can approach the weekend with some confidence in our challenge because the bike has gone well at Portimao in the past and I have a pretty good connection with the circuit.
I have never been to Portimao before so I am looking forward to seeing the track. I have watched some videos of other races and it looks very interesting, especially the first and last corners. There are also many up and down sections and my team has told me that there are some blind corners as well. I will do many laps on the scooter when I arrive in Portugal but this is nothing compared to my race bike. We will start with the same base setting that we have used in the last few races and probably not make many changes until I understand the racetrack a bit better. It looks like a difficult track to learn but I am looking forward to riding at Portimao this weekend.
Ronald ten Kate – team manager
It feels a little weird to be sitting on the settee at home watching Jonathan riding in MotoGP and then to have him live and for real in our garage the following weekend. It’s certainly not the easiest way for him to go racing but, on the other hand, these are probably the most exciting few weeks of his career so far. The technical demands of the Portimao circuit have always suited Jonathan so we’re hoping we can build on his experience and his previous results here this weekend. For Hiroshi, however, the circuit is completely new and he’ll soon find out that the layout is unlike any other circuit in the world. He might need every available lap this weekend just to learn Portimao, but I’m sure he’ll have fun doing it!
World Superbike title battle now virtually down to three contenders
Rome (Italy), September 18, 2012 – The 2012 eni FIM Superbike World Championship enters into a crucial phase this weekend as the title battle is virtually whittled down to three names on the eve of the penultimate round at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve circuit at Portimao. Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri, two of the most famous riders in world motorcycle racing, will be fighting it out on Sunday together with the revelation of the year, the 26-year-old Tom Sykes from the UK.
It will also be a terrific battle on the manufacturer front as well, with three makes still in with a shot of winning this classification. Two rounds are left, and that means four races and 100 points up for grabs. The venue for this weekend’s race will be the Portimao track in the Algarve region of Portugal, with its spectacular ups and downs, with the grand finale coming in two weeks time at Magny-Cours, in France.
A second major upset in two rounds saw the pendulum swing back towards Max Biaggi. At the Nurburgring in Germany the 41-year-old Italian from the Aprilia Racing Team celebrated his fifth win in 2012 (and his 21st in WSB), gaining 28 points over his rival Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad Motorsport), who for the first time came away with no points in a double DNF. Biaggi now leads the table with a 9.5 point lead over Melandri but the two Italians are being pushed hard all the way by the increasingly menacing Tom Sykes, the Kawasaki Racing Team talent who is now just 26.5 points behind Biaggi and 12 behind Melandri. In case of equal points the final positions will be decided by the most number of wins in a season. Currently Melandri has six to his name, Biaggi five and Sykes two.
The title battle is now virtually a three-way affair, even though the reigning champion Carlos Checa (Althea Racing Ducati) – 70.5 points behind – and Northern Ireland’s Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) – 92.5 points behind – are still mathematically in with a chance. In the Manufacturers battle things are just as precarious: Aprilia moved back to the top again but BMW are just 7.5 points behind, followed by Ducati at minus 42.5 and Kawasaki at minus 62. Honda and Suzuki are no longer in the battle for the title.
Portimao will be the venue for World Superbike for the fifth time. The Algarve circuit was the decider in the 2009 edition, which saw a terrific duel between Ben Spies and Noriyuki Haga, but the previous editions have seen equilibrium all the way: Biaggi did the double in 2010, on his way to the world title, while Melandri won here last year. The most successful manufacturer however in Portugal is Ducati with four wins, the last one in 2011 with Carlos Checa, while Aprilia and Yamaha have each won twice.
But Superbike as always offers numerous points of interest and one of the main ones is those riders who are no longer involved in the final standings but who can easily have a say in the outcome. Althea Racing’s Carlos Checa has lost contact with the top 3, more through misfortune than anything else and so finishing off the season in the best possible way is priority for the Spanish rider. The same can be said for Jonathan Rea who in this period is racing on two different fronts as Honda HRC has also chosen him as stand-in for Casey Stoner in MotoGP.
One man on form at the moment is Chaz Davies, the 25-year-old British rider whose rookie year so far has culminated in an extraordinary win at Nurburgring: on the Aprilia RSV4 introduced in 2009 the only winner so far had been Biaggi. Next season the 2011 Supersport World Champion will be switching to BMW alongside Melandri.
In Germany the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team was the only one capable of preventing the podium from being an all-Aprilia lock-out as the final place went to a determined Leon Camier. After various problems in the early part of the season the GSX-R is now moving on up, and Camier will surely be a threat at a circuit that exalts his riding style.
The other rapidly-emerging rookies include Italy’s Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing Ducati), the 22-year-old reigning Superstock 1000 champion who is consolidating his top 10 position with some encouraging performances. One missing rider will be the injured Niccolò Canepa, replaced in the Red Devils Roma team by Matteo Baiocco, the two-time Italian CIV champion who raced as wild-card at Misano, finishing tenth. Another youngster to watch is Loris Baz, the 19-year-old Kawasaki Racing Team rider who already has one win at Silverstone and three podium finishes to his name.
Points (after 12 of 14 rounds): 1. Biaggi 318; 2. Melandri 308,5; 3. Sykes 291,5; 4. Checa 247,5; 5. Rea 225,5; 6. Laverty 213,5; 7. Haslam 189; 8. Davies 156,5; 9. Guintoli 143,5; 10. Giugliano 125; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 384.5; 2. BMW 377; 3. Ducati 342; 4. Kawasaki 322.5; 5. Honda 240.5; 6. Suzuki 120.5.
Portimao will possibly produce at least one winner in Kenan Sofuoglu, who is well on his way to a third Supersport title. The Kawasaki Lorenzini man is unbeaten in the last two races and with four wins this year he has an advantage of 38 points over next man Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda), the only one left with a slim chance of winning. Should the Frenchman take the win, Sofuoglu would be champion with a fourth place, an unlikely result seeing as in the previous 11 races the 27-year-old Turk has scored worse on only three occasions.
Sofuoglu was crowned Supersport champion in 2007 and 2010, both times with Honda. Meanwhile with 21 wins in 67 races, Kenan is already the most successful Supersport rider of all time. An eventual win for Sofuoglu would also be just reward for the Vanni Lorenzini’s Kawasaki team, which is based at Pegognaga, near Mantova, an area hit by a violent earthquake a few months ago. Despite numerous problems the work of the Italian team has gone ahead, with exceptional results.
The Portuguese Round will also see a return to the track of home favourite Miguel Praia who gets a wild-card ride for the Honda Ten Kate Racing Products team.
Points (after 11 of 13 rounds): 1. Sofuoglu 198; 2. Cluzel 160; 3. Foret 144; 4. Lowes 141; 5. Parkes 122; 6. Morais 84; 7. Baldolini 78; 8. Quarmby 77; 9. Iannuzzo 60; 10. Tamburini 50; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 237; 2. Honda 237; 3. Triumph 107; 4. Yamaha 97; 5. Suzuki 6.
The Nurburgring threw totally wide-open the race for the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, the series reserved for under-26 year-old riders, which last year saw top SBK rookie Davide Giugliano crowned as champion. A crash for Eddi La Marra (Barni Racing Team Italia) complicated Ducati’s plans and allowed Frenchman Sylvian Barrier to take his BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet machine to just six points from the top. With two rounds to go (and 50 points at stake) calculations are worth nothing as the only strategy for the two contenders is to beat each other. Mathematically, still in with a chance are Bryan Staring (Pedercini Kawasaki), 33 points behind La Marra, Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki) at minus 37, as well as Lorenzo Savadori (Barni Racing Team Italia Ducati) and Markus Reiterberger (Team Alpha Racing BMW), both 41 points behind the leader. In a championship that has produced numerous surprises in the previous eight rounds it is possible that nothing will be decided until the final curve of the final round at Magny-Cours.
Points (after 8 rounds of 10): 1. La Marra 119; 2. Barrier 113; 3. Staring 86; 4. Guarnoni 82; 5. Savadori 78; 6. Reiterberger 78; 7. Coghlan 68; 8. Bergman 68; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 152; 2. Kawasaki 143; 3. BMW 141; 4. Honda 62; 5. Aprilia 17.
The situation is even more uncertain in the European Superstock 600 Championship for under 22 year-olds with a fantastic head-to-head between Michael van der Mark (EAB Ten Kate Junior Team Honda) and Riccardo Russo (Team Italia FMI Yamaha) which has been raging since the start of the year. The Dutchman and the Italian, both 19 years of age, have already swapped places at the top numerous times, the last time at the Nurburgring where Van der Mark won, leaving him with a two-point lead over Russo as they go into Portimao. These two challengers have dominated the season, sharing out the wins equally in the eight rounds so far. Portimao is crucial, in particular for Van der Mark who in case of victory becomes clear favourite for the title and who would only have to keep Russo in his sights at Magny-Cours, whereas Russo would have to play his cards right at the season finale.
Points (after 8 of 10 rounds) 1. Vd Mark 169; 2. Russo 167; 3. Duwelz 78; 4. Vitali 59; 5. Nestorovic 58; 6. Schacht 55; 7. Calero Perez 54; 8. Morbidelli 52; etc.
SBK for Peace One Day
In the same weekend as the Portuguese Round, the SBK World Championship wishes to associate its name with the non-profit initiative Peace One Day, working towards a day of ceasefire and non-violence throughout the world on Peace Day, 21 September. This coming Peace Day - Friday 21 September 2012, Peace One Day are holding a major concert with Elton John at Wembley Arena. Some of the top World Superbike riders have given their support to the initiative by sending messages of solidarity which will be broadcast during the event. Peace One Day would like to thank Carlos Checa, Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea, Eugene Laverty, Leon Haslam and Leon Camier for their support. For further information, please visit: http://peaceoneday.org/welcome/
Lowes aims for podium at Portimao
BOGDANKA PTR HONDA's Sam Lowes will be aiming for a podium finish at the penultimate round of the World Supersport Championship at Portimao in Portugal this weekend as he targets a return to third position in the overall standings.
Mathew Scholtz on the other Bogdanka PTR Honda will be looking for a strong weekend and a point scoring finish on another new circuit having crashed out of the last race at the Nurburgring in Germany.
The Bogdanka Honda PTR Team will be joined by the up and coming Polish youngster, Adrian Pasek. Bogdanka's full time rider in the European Junior Cup support series will be looking to make a steady debut in the World Supersport Championship when the lights go off on Sunday at 13:30 local time, that's 14:30 CET.
Sam Lowes: "I'm really looking forward to the weekend on a circuit which I love. We're coming off two bad results even though our race pace has been very good, so I'm looking to go and try my very best to fight for the podium in the remaining races and enjoy myself. I know that my Bogdanka PTR Honda team is behind me and giving me all I need to win."
Mathew Scholtz: "After how Russia went, I was feeling confident ahead of Germany but then obviously things didn't work out there. We've changed a few things since then and I've been training harder so I'm looking forward to the last two races. It will be my first time at Portimao, so I'll have to start slowly and get faster. Hopefully then we'll have a similar sort of run like in Russia and I can finish in the top ten. I've watched the videos from the previous years and I know that Portimao is one of the hardest and most technical tracks on the calendar with a lot of blind corners and elevation changes, so I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Adrian Pasek: "I'm feeling good ahead of my World Supersport debut. It's a great opportunity for me as well as an important lesson. I'm really looking forward to finding out how I can do against such fast riders and manage the sessions and the race, which are a lot longer than in the European Junior Cup. It will be an important build up for 2013, but I'm not putting my goals in any numbers. Portimao is the most difficult track I've ever raced on. You need a lot of laps and time to learn it with all the blind corners. I've already tried the Bogdanka Honda PTR bike at Imola earlier in the year and was really impressed with the power and electronics, but I'm not putting any pressure on myself. It will all be about learning this weekend."
Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Team Manager: "As we know Sam has had winning pace all year. Unfortunately a jump start at Moscow and crash at Nurburgring has left him fourth in the Championship. He is only three points behind Foret in third and looking for two good podiums to finish in the top three in the Championship, where a rider of his speed and ability deserves to be. Mathew came together with another rider last time so we are looking for him to have a good points scoring finish in Portugal."
Jules looking forward to first visit to Portimao
PTR HONDA'S Jules Cluzel has never visited the Parkalgar track near Portimao but is ready to learn fast when the 12th and penultimate round of the World Supersport Championship takes place this Sunday, September 23rd.
Jules is the only rider who can stop Kenan Sofuoglu from winning the 2012 Championship as he is 38-points behind with a maximum of 50 remaining to be won. He is not focusing on the title race but hopes to do as well in the race as possible and challenge at the front. Sharing a similar approach is Ronan Quarmby on his PTR Honda, he is looking for two good finishes to end the season on a high and challenge for sixth in the title race.
Riders PTR Honda's Martin Jessopp is changing his approach to riding and will be pushing much harder from the first session to see if he can get into the points where he belongs. The race starts at 1330 GMT on Sunday, September 23rd, with practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and Saturday.
Jules: "This will be my first time to Portimao and I have the same plan as the last round at the Nurburgring - I want to learn really fast and try to do my best in the race. I cannot find the circuit in video games but think I will enjoy the track, it is sweeping and fast and I like that."
Ronan: "The team is preparing my bike in the best possible way as always. I will work with my PTR crew, trust my Crew Chief Jamie and want to get a good set up for the race. I need good points to get up to sixth in the Championship as that is within reach."
Martin: "I am looking forward to Portimao. I went to watch the last round of WSB a few years ago and remember it being awesome when I walked round it and I can't wait to ride. Looking from the outside it is one of the tracks I should enjoy the most as it is like a British track but wider and faster. It will not be the easiest to learn. I need a good first session and will have a different approach, much more like the other guys, I will push a bit harder all weekend."
Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "Jules goes into the last two rounds with a hard job to win the title. He will go out to try and win the last two races. I'm sure he will be in contention even though he has never been to Portimao - as we saw at the Nurburgring his lack of track knowledge will not hinder him. Ronan has struggled at the last two rounds but he is eighth and within touching distance of sixth in the Championship. He's improved immensely this year and we are looking for two good races to finish the season and finish as high up the standings as possible. There are only two rounds to go for Martin and he will be trying hard; it would be nice for him to show his early season potential and finish on a high."
FIXI CRESCENT SUZUKI SET FOR ALGARVE WSB
Team Suzuki Press Office - September 19.
FIXI Crescent Suzuki is on the Algarve coast in Portugal for the 13th and penultimate round of the 2012 eni FIM Superbike World Championship to be held this weekend at the Portimao circuit.
Following his superb result in the last round at Nurburgring, Leon Camier is planning on continuing in the same vein of form at a circuit that should suit his riding style. His podium in Germany was a just reward for Camier and the whole crew and has given a huge boost to the team as it enters the final stages of the season.
John Hopkins will be racing at a track that is completely new to him this weekend, so will need to be up-to-speed quickly at a circuit that is notoriously difficult for bike set-up. The Anglo-American is not deterred by that though, as he too aims to end the season strongly and secure his best results of the year in the forthcoming two events on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R.
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is an ultra modern track that was completed in 2008 and opened officially when it hosted the finale of the World Superbike Championship the same year and since then the series has visited 4,592m Portimao circuit every year. The layout is situated in hilly landscape and consequently features many undulating sections. A number of changes in direction and gradients, crests, some complex sections, a lot of long corners and a winding infield make the circuit a real challenge for riders and teams alike. This weekend looks like being very exciting as the World Championship title battle enters into its final stages, with three riders still in with a chance of taking the title. Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri and Briton Tom Sykes are all still in with a shot of winning this title and with two rounds and four races remaining, it all looks like a thrilling climax is on the cards.
The penultimate World Superbike weekend of the season will get underway on Friday with the first practice and qualifying sessions. Saturday morning will have a second qualifying session to reduce the field to just 16-riders, who will then progress to that afternoon's Superpole. Sunday's 22-lap races will start at 12.00hrs local time (12.00hrs BST) and 15.30hrs local time (15.30hrs BST).
"I've always liked the Portimao circuit and my race pace has been pretty good there, even if my qualification has not! It's pretty hard to get a good bike set-up there because of all the changes of direction and elevation but, once you know where you are going, you can put in good laps. I'm not sure how the FIXI Crescent Suzuki is going to go round there, because the track is very different to the Nurburgring, but I'm sure the boys and I will sort the bike out as best we can. There have been a lot of congratulations after Nurburgring and it's been great for the team, because it's been a tough season, but a result like that makes up for the hard times before. Now, we're hoping we'll keep progressing and end the season on the up."
"I've not raced at Portimao, so the first thing I have to do is learn the circuit. From what I've heard, the track is quite a tough one for bike set-up, but I learn tracks pretty quickly, so I'm not worried about that aspect. Portimao certainly seems to have a bit of everything and I think it's a track I'm going to enjoy once I get the hang of it. Once I feel confident about pushing the FIXI Crescent Suzuki hard, I'll be going all-out for my best results of the year."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"All of us at FIXI Crescent Suzuki were so happy after the podium at the Nurburgring and we are determined to continue the progress and chase good results in the last two rounds of the championship. Portimao is a very different track to Nurburgring, but our aim - as usual - is to do well in qualifying and get both Leon and John safely into Superpole. After that we'll see what happens. I'm sure that Leon and John are fully motivated about his coming weekend and looking forward to getting some more good results."
JACOBSEN TO RIDE ASSEN BSB SUPERSPORT
Team Suzuki Press Office - September 19.
American PJ Jacobsen will make his British Supersport debut this weekend at Assen in the Netherlands aboard a Tyco Suzuki GSX-R600.
The 18-year-old New Yorker has been in the news since his Superstock debut in Tyco Suzuki livery back in July; and following his victory at Donington Park two weeks ago Team Manager Philip Neill has rubber-stamped his request to finally race the team's 2011 British Championship-winning GSX-R600.
Jacobsen will not test his number #99 Tyco Suzuki GSX-R600 - that Alastair Seeley raced to the top-step of the British Championship podium - before the opening session at Assen on Friday, but with previous circuit experience and working with the current British Supersport Championship-winning team, the young American is confident of putting in a solid performance.
"I'm really pumped to be getting to ride the Tyco Suzuki GSX-R600. It's a proven Championship-winning bike and, having compared some lap times from last year, I know the bike is up to the job; and the rest is just down to me. Donington was great for everyone, but Assen will be a whole new experience. I'm with a great team and a great bunch of guys, who I'm having a lot of fun with, so I just can't wait to get on the gas!"
Philip Neill - Team Manager:
"After a great weekend at Donington with three wins, which included PJ's superb performance in the Superstock class, it obviously generated an immediate discussion on his future within our team.
"PJ's initial contact with me was always based on a Supersport ride, and even though our intention was not to compete in the class this year, it was a pretty easy decision for TAS Racing and our sponsors Tyco Security Products to make following Donington Park. Even though he has yet to ride our Championship-winning GSX-R600, PJ has ridden Assen before and it's a unique opportunity at an iconic circuit that we just couldn't overlook."
WSBK - Team Italia ready to tackle Portimao
La Marra and Russo fight for the championship in the Stk1000 and Stk600 respectively. Savadori and Vitali also want to close the year in the Top 3.
In the FIM Cup Superstock1000, La Marra will try to defend the championship lead and put behind the Nurburgring crash that left him with only a 6-point advantage on Barrier (he had 31 points). That said, La Marra will switch back to "attack" mode.
Savadori is also ready to fight for points. He was fifth in Germany after three unlucky races, and trails by only 8 points for the third place in the standings.
In the UEM European Championship Superstock600, Russo is chasing VD Mark. The Dutchman passed him in the standings after winning the last race, but only 2 points separate the duo. With only two rounds to go, the title is likely to be decided in Magny Cours, but Russo will try to get the upper hand in Portugal.
Vitali, always in the Top 15 after Round 1, has to defend the fourth place in the championship from Nestorovic and Schacht, and targets Duwlez for the Top 3.
Cristiano Migliorati (FMI Technical Coordinator)
"Portimao is a tough track, especially because of its elevation changes. La Marra has a thin margin in the Stk1000, but not enough for us to relax. He's in good shape and ready to fight. Savadori is also eager to finish a tough championship on a positive note. We tested on this track with the Stk600 riders. Vitali improved a lot since last year, and Russo is close to his best times. We're ready to fight for the victory."
Honda SBK - Portimao video preview
Just last Sunday, Jonathan Rea completed from his MotoGP debut at Misano in Italy with the Repsol Honda team and he returns to a track where he has performed well in the past, with pole position in 2011 and podium placings in five of the last six races at Portimao.
Conversely, Hiroshi Aoyama visits the roller-coaster Portuguese circuit for the first time and is looking forward to riding on one of the most challenging but rewarding tracks on the World Superbike calendar.