Press release previews of this weekend's World Superbike round at Portimao:
Nilox Portuguese Round to mark halfway point of the season
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve to host another battle for supremacy.
Popular Portuguese holiday destination the Algarve debuted on the eni FIM Superbike World Championship calendar at the end of 2008, shortly after the circuit inauguration. Nowadays, it can be found in the middle of the season: in this case, very much in the middle as, after Race 1 in Portugal this weekend, the 26-race campaign of 2015 will meet its halfway point.
Troy Bayliss was the first rider to stamp his name on the new venue seven years ago, dominating 2008 proceedings on what was his swansong weekend before retiring. That same weekend featuring a stunning World Superbike debut for Jonathan Rea, who qualified on the front row on a Honda and finished Race 1 in fourth position after switching from World Supersport.
This time, Rea heads to Portimao as a convincing championship leader. Eight wins and four second places from 12 races leave the Northern Irishman with an advantage of 101 and 102 points over Leon Haslam (Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils) and Kawasaki Racing Team partner Tom Sykes, with his current teammate having finally opened his winning account with a third consecutive Donington Park double last time out.
Incidentally, Sykes is a two-time winner at Portimao, having triumphed in the soaking wet first race of 2012 and the dry opening encounter of last year. Rea won the second 2014 race on a Honda, making the most of difficult conditions as Aprilia riders Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri collided while chasing and catching.
With three Portimao podiums to his name, including one as a wildcard rider in 2008, Leon Haslam has traditionally seen the track as one of his stronger venues. That said, this year could be more of a challenge as Haslam has confirmed that he is still feeling the effects of the three cracked ribs from his Imola crash earlier this season. Team-mate Jordi Torres will not need to learn a new circuit on this occasion, as he tested in Portugal in January, although that particular test was blighter by inclement weather and so dry running will be a venture into the unknown.
As for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Superbike Team, both Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies finished on the podium in 2014’s second race in the aftermath of the Guintoli-Melandri coming together. The Welshman was in contention for a rostrum finish also in the previous encounter, before coming together with Leon Haslam at turn 5.
Reigning World Champion Guintoli, now with the Pata Honda World Superbike Team, holds positive memories on the Algarve. He has finished on the rostrum there on no less than five occasions. Team-mate Michael van der Mark went well there in the junior ranks, with Superstock 600 successes in 2011 and 2012 prior to setting fastest race lap en route to victory and the title in the World Supersport Championship last year.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki has not enjoyed such pleasant times at Portimao, with its best results there being a couple of seventh places for Eugene Laverty last season. They continue to strive to most closer to the front, with the improvement in pace confirmed by Alex Lowes’ two sixth places at his home round two weekends ago.
Elsewhere, Althea Racing’s Matteo Baiocco has been celebrating off-track as he became a new father less than two weeks ago, while team-mate Nico Terol is looking to bounce back from a frightening highside in England from which he was able to escape unharmed. Others – such as BMW Motorrad Italia’s Ayrton Badovini and MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Leon Camier, showed much promise at Donington and are now looking to string together more consistent results.
The first World Superbike track action at the Nilox Portuguese Round will come in the form of Free Practice 1, which commences at 11:15 local time (GMT +1) on Friday.
Portimão A Strong Venue For KRT Riders Rea And Sykes
The FIM Superbike World Championship reaches the halfway point in a few days’ time when KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes head to Portimão for the seventh round of the series. Each has happy recent memories of the Portuguese circuit, with Sykes winning race one in 2014 and Rea victorious in race two.
At the most recent round in Donington, a home weekend for both KRT riders, Rea extended his long-term championship lead with two second place finishes behind his resurgent team-mate Sykes, who in his turn scored his first two race wins under the new technical rules that were brought in this season. Sykes’ moved to within one point of second place in the championship rankings after his perfect Donington weekend.
Having only joined Kawasaki’s official WSB squad this year, Rea has won no less than eight of the 12 races run so far in 2015 and scored second place in all the other four. This puts him on a remarkable total of 280 points, with the season still not quite half completed. He has now lifted his career race winning total to 23, part of a career podium tally of 54.
Of possibly even more relevance this coming weekend is the fact that Rea has scored a remarkable eight previous Portimão podiums in the WSB class, including his race two victory last season. Rea had his first full WSB race at the circuit on the Algarve - way back at the end of the 2008 season.
Portimão is also the scene of previous WSB success for 2013 WSB champion Sykes, who has won two previous Portuguese races, the first in 2012 and the other being race one last season.
With 24 career WSB race wins, 55 podiums and an impressive 26 pole positions, Sykes is hungry for more success as soon as possible after he and his technical crew found strong settings to match the new technical rules. These have allowed him to compete right at the top from the start to the finish of the most recent races.
The 4.592Km circuit at Portimão is a remarkable feat of racetrack design and execution, with its many undulations and blind corner entries making it a real challenge for the riders, as well as one of the most dramatic circuits on the entire calendar for race fans and TV viewers alike.
After the Portimão round there will be a one-day official test on Monday 8th June at the same circuit, which will allow the KRT staff and riders to try out some new developments and set-up ideas, ready for the following race weekend at Misano, between June 19th and 21st.
Following the test, both KRT riders will fly to the Isle of Man for a Monster Energy TT parade lap on June 10 each riding a unique road going Ninja ZX-10R replica of their racing machine alongside seasoned Kawasaki TT rider, James Hillier, mounted on the new 300 horsepower supercharged Ninja H2R.
Jonathan Rea: “I have been soaking up the pre-TT atmosphere here in the Isle of Man before I head off to Portimão. It is a circuit that I really enjoy and it requires quite a lot of different techniques in a few areas. It is a cool place to go in general and the weather should be really nice at this time of year. I am looking forward to riding the Kawasaki there because I have some really good memories from previous race weekends. Now we have a really good way of working with the KRT Ninja ZX-10R and we need to keep working together, Pere and all the crew, to really understand the bike and the track on Friday and then build towards two strong races. We did not test at Portimão in the winter because we did a lot of testing at Motorland and Jerez. I took a race win at Portimão last year, in the wet, which was very nice. This year is a new year so we will just try and build on what we have done already. My target at Portimão is to go for both races.”
Tom Sykes: “I feel good after the Donington Park round, really happy with the way we approached the weekend in general. The way we evaluated everything and moved forward paid off. We have a good track record at Donington but we did nothing special. We had made some small steps at previous events, turned a corner at Imola and that carried on to Donington. I needed to get my season going and in the last four races we have been second, second, first and first. So I have felt more at home on the bike and we have had been doing a lot of points scoring. I feel I have a bike set-up where if I get passed I can re-pass, and that really excites me. I feel we have made improvements in general and we have a fairly decent track record at a number of the circuits coming up so I feel we have the set-up heading in the right direction in the nick of time. I won a race at Portimão last year and I am really looking forward to heading to Portugal and experiencing the KRT Ninja ZX-10R there.”
David Salom (Kawasaki Team Pedercini) raced at the previous round in Donington despite a painful injury to his elbow and he scored good points in each race. He will try to maintain this form at the undulating Portimão layout. WSB rookie Roman Ramos (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) will be out to continue the positive form that has seen him finish races inside the top ten more than once In 2015. Ramos is currently 13th in the championship and Salom 15th.
Extended trip to the Algarve for Voltcom Crescent Suzuki
The halfway point of the 2015 season sees Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet preparing for four days at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal this week, as the Superbike World Championship sets up camp for both round seven and an official test at the circuit.
After displaying impressive pace during his home round at Donington Park in the UK last month, Lowes is expectant about his return to Portugal. Having tested the previous incarnation of his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R at the 4,592m track in January, he is keen to use his experience to continue the current development of the new ECU system. Last year saw the British racer collect 23 points from his fourth and sixth place finishes, a feat he is hoping to better this time out.
Having never raced at Portimao, de Puniet’s only prior knowledge of the circuit comes from his 40 laps aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 during January’s pre-season testing. The Frenchman is hoping the positive steps made with his team during Friday practice at the last round will lay the foundations for an encouraging race weekend to come.
The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve sits in the hills less than 20kms above the coastal resort of Portimao, towards the western edge of Portugal’s Algarve. Hosting consecutive World Superbike races since the circuit’s unveiling in 2008, the ‘rollercoaster’ layout is famed for its undulating nature and 15 multi-directional turns, providing a challenging and exhilarating ride for the production class’ challengers.
Two 45-minute free practice sessions, the first of which at 11:15BST, kick-start the track action on Friday 5th June, two further practices and the afternoon Superpole make up Saturday’s schedule, with lights out for Sunday’s two 20-lap races at 10:30BST and 13:10BST respectively. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will remain at the circuit for an extra day, on Monday 8th June, to participate in the Championship’s official test.
“I really like the Portimao circuit, it’s quite fast and with the up and down layout it’s a bit like Cadwell Park on steroids! It’s a very physical track which requires a lot of rider input, and you also have to be very precise as off line can be bumpy in places. My best section is the final part, the second to last corner is off camber and it’s nice to slide the bike there, but my favourite corner is the final one as it’s a fast downhill right with two apex’s and is very hard to get right – but an awesome feeling when you do! Whether it’s your first track day or going for WSBK pole you can really enjoy this place and I can’t wait to race my GSX-R there again!”
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m excited to race at Portimao because it looks like a beautiful circuit. The pre-season test in January was my first visit here but the weather was not good for us. We only managed a few laps so I understand the first and last corners, but for me it will be very much like a new track. It’s a really good layout but the surface is really bumpy so this will be critical to set-up the bike properly for the suspension. I’m hoping for some more luck this weekend, we had a really good start to the UK round but were very unlucky Saturday and Sunday, so I’m looking to start this round as we did on Friday at Donington and then to continue to improve throughout the weekend and have two good races.”
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team is ready to do battle at Portimao
Arezzo/Borgo Panigale (Italy), Tuesday 2 June 2015 – Round 7 of the Superbike World Championship sees the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team and riders Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano travel to Portugal, and the ‘Autodromo Internacional do Algarve’.
Last year’s Portuguese event brought mixed results for the Ducati pair as, while they both reached the race 2 podium, crossing the line in second (Giugliano) and third (Davies) position, race 1 resulted in a seventh place finish for Davide and a crash for Chaz, from which he was able to return to the track and conclude the race eighteenth.
With regard to the 2015 championship, Ducati men Davies and Giugliano were last out just over a week ago at the Donington Park circuit in the UK. The Welshman concluded both of the day’s races on the podium, with a double third, while the Italian crossed the line in seventeenth (after a pit-stop to change tyres) and fifth place. Six rounds into the championship and Davies is in fourth position in the general standings (155 points), while Giugliano, having only competed in two rounds, continues to build his points total to place fourteenth (40 points). Ducati is second in the manufacturer’s championship having collected 196 points thus far.
Comments ahead of the event:
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #7)
“I really like the Portimao track and think it is one of the best tracks in the world. It has elements that are similar to a motocross track and in certain sections it’s a little like a BSB track. We had a solid weekend there last year and I’m optimistic that we can do well and put up a good fight against our biggest rivals. We continue to aim for podium finishes at every round, something I’ve achieved in every race that I’ve finished so far…”
Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati Superbike Team #34)
“Portimao is a fun track but also, I think, one of the most difficult tracks of all. Last year we achieved a significant podium finish in Portugal and this season, considering all of the improvements that have been made to my bike, I would hope to be able to do better. After the Donington weekend my motivation is even higher and I hope that Sunday can bring two strong results.”
The seventh round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship will take place next weekend in Portugal at the Autodròmo Internacional do Algarve.
The beautiful Portuguese track has been a part of the series calendar since 2008, the year in which it hosted World Superbikes as its first international event after opening. Team Althea Racing will arrive in Portugal with the aim of putting the difficult Donington Park weekend behind them, a weekend in which Nico Terol was not at 100% and Matteo Baiocco had to deal with a few technical limitations that he had not expected.
The track is fast but at the same time tough, with changes in elevation and blind turns that guarantee spectacular racing. Nico Terol was able to try the track during winter testing but due to bad weather he did not ride a lot so he still has a lot to learn, also because temperatures can be very high in June. Having almost put behind him the accident that affected his performance at Donington Park, Nico will work hard to find the right feeling with which to face Sunday’s races.
Nico Terol: “I go to Portimao in the hope of being at 100%. I am almost fully recovered and must concentrate on doing my best. I know I can be strong and fast and I also know that, having only experience of the track, it will be important to work well right from Friday in order to get to Sunday in the best condition to be able to complete two great races.”
Matteo Baiocco also wants to put the British round behind him. Though he demonstrated improvement during the qualifying sessions and completed a great Superpole, unfortunately he was unable to consolidate those results during the races. The growth and good work completed during the sessions nevertheless bodes well for the Portuguese round, where Matteo will strive to continue what he started at Donington Park, to be able to make another step forward on the grid and in the championship.
Matteo Baiocco: “The Donington weekend saw an improvement in our performance compared to previous races and I would like to continue this positive trend at Portimao. The track is definitely tough, but with my bike I’ll be able to have fun. I can’t wait to get back on my Ducati.”
The FIM Superstock 1000 Cup, in which Raffaele De Rosa and Luca Salvadori, is proving to be an exciting and difficult category with some high level riders. Raffaele De Rosa, having just missed out on the podium at Donington Park, now aims for victory with his Ducati Panigale R, at a track where he finished in fourth place in the Supersport category last season. The fight for the title is still open and despite his unlucky crash at Imola, Raffaele is not giving up and will do his best to close the gap between himself and the championship leader.
Luca Salvadori has surprised with his rapid growth in what is a new category for him. He has proved to be fast and is not intimidated by the more experienced riders, having reached the top ten twice in just four races. So he will be looking to repeat, or even improve on, the positive results achieved up until now.
The Portuguese track was designed by architect Ricardo Pina and is 4592 metres long with a start/finish straight of 835 metres, 9 right-hand corners and 6 left-hand corners. It has a maximum decline of 57 metres and corners ranging from 23 to 207 metres. The rider in pole starts from the right side of the track. The track hosted its first race on 2 November 2008, with the final round of the season’s World Superbikes, at which champion Troy Bayliss retired.
The circuit is located close to the city of Portimao, a tourist port in the beautiful Algarve region. The closest airport is at Faro, though the airports of Lisbon and Seville, Spain offer more flights and are a little over two hours away. Portugal is one hour behind Central European Time.
Pata Honda riders head to Portimao
Round seven of the 2015 World Superbike championship takes place at Portimao in Portugal this weekend (5-7 June) with Pata Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark aiming to produce strong performances.
Guintoli is positive about the potential for further development of his Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machine after a revised chassis configuration tested last time out at Donington Park in the UK gave him a better feeling on the bike.
The 32-year-old Frenchman has been on the Portimao podium five times in previous visits and is looking forward to pushing the CBR to the maximum in an effort to add to the machine’s own tally of nine podium finishes at the 4.592km Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
Guintoli’s Pata Honda team-mate Michael van der Mark won at Portimao on his way to last season’s World Supersport championship but already has Superbike experience of the demanding and undulating circuit, albeit from a damp and cold pre-season test earlier this year.
Despite scoring two podium finishes at Assen in this, his rookie WSBK season, van der Mark has retired from the last three outings and is targeting strong finishes in Sunday’s two 20-lap races, which mark the halfway point in the 2015 World Superbike championship.
The weekend’s race event will be followed on Monday 8 June by an official World Superbike test at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve at which both Pata Honda riders will test new chassis components and electronics updates.
It was clear from Donington that the new components and strategies that we tested were definitely a step in the right direction, so I’m looking forward to this weekend in Portugal to continue that development process. At Donington I felt that I was riding the bike well and I felt more comfortable on it. There was still a gap to the front that is larger than we would want but all we can do is keep working in the way we have been to try to close it. It’s not going to be easy but we’ll just keep our heads down and continue the hard work. I had a good weekend at Portimao last year and I really like the track which has been good to me in the years we’ve been going there, so we’re hoping for more positive progress this weekend.
Michael van der Mark
Last year was good with the win in World Supersport, even though it came with the rain. But I’m really looking forward to the weekend because I love this place. We had a test earlier this year so I’ve ridden the CBR Superbike at Portimao and even though it was really cold and often wet I was able to make some laps. I love the roller-coaster ride with all the fast corners and blind crests. Some parts are quite different on the Superbike but that also makes it more fun! But after too many DNFs already this season I really need some good strong results, so I’ll be working hard with the team this weekend to get me and the bike ready for Sunday’s two races.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
We’re bringing some more chassis parts with us to Portimao although we’re not sure yet whether we will test them during the weekend sessions or wait until Monday’s test, when we’ll also be trying out new software updates. Sylvain had a better, more positive feeling during the Donington event and said that the CBR felt more like his own race bike so we’re looking forward to developing that feeling this weekend. Michael had some bad luck at Donington but he likes the Portimao track where the rider needs a lot of confidence. I think the layout should suit him and the CBR better than other circuits.
LEON HASLAM IS ALMOST FULLY RECOVERED AND AIMING FOR THE PODIUM IN PORTUGAL
JORDI TORRES HAS CLEAR IDEAS: “WE NEED TO BE MORE INCISIVE IN QUALIFYING”
Noale, 3 June 2015 – The World Superbike Championship is about to take on one of the most popular tracks among the riders. Portimão is a decidedly particular track with impressive sloping sections that make for a great show, always keeping the fans on the edge of their seats down to the last lap. It is also a track that traditionally has favoured the Aprilia RSV4, the reigning World Champion bike, which has always proven to be competitive on the Portuguese track. This is an excellent reason for the Aprilia Racing - Red Devils riders to be optimistic.
Leon Haslam is counting on this positive feeling and his decidedly improved physical condition, forced to battle pain in his home round at Donington Park but motivated to get right back on the podium. The few laps the rider took during the preseason tests here are purely indicative but they left the English rider with good memories.
The race for the championship, with so many points still up for grabs, is wide open for Leon, especially in WSBK where sudden changes in the standings are the order of the day.
Leon Haslam: “I can't wait for Portugal. The ribs are still a little sore but so much better than Donington, also this is a track where we managed a few laps preseason testing and the feeling was really good. I have been 4th in the last few races and I really feel we can get back on the podium in Portugal. It's a very demanding circuit where Aprilia has won in the past, so this gives a lot of confidence going into the weekend”.
Spaniard Jordi Torres also had to battle at Donington. After a less than brilliant Superpole, the best rookie in World Superbike had to ride two comeback races, which is always a complicated situation given the level of the competitors on the track. So for the Portuguese round Jordi has a clear idea of what his strategy needs to be: being faster and more incisive in qualifying, in order to take full advantage of the work done to improve race pace.
Jordi Torres: “After two races coming back from behind at Donington Park we're coming to Portimão with rather clear ideas. We need to be more incisive on Saturday so we can be in the leading group on Sunday. Portimão is a difficult circuit where we'll verify our potential. We tested here at the beginning of the season even if it was only for one afternoon, so we'll be starting in better shape than at Donington. We need to be stronger in the qualifying sessions and, above all, we need to keep developing the RSV4 RF. Portimão is definitely a track that caters to our bike and I think we'll be able to fight for the top positions”.
Can Sofuoglu’s World Supersport charge be stopped in Portugal?
Jules Cluzel may now be running second in the title chase, but has time run out for Kenan Sofuoglu’s rivals? With six races still to go and no less than 150 World Supersport Championship points still up for grabs, the battle is far from over, but it is certain that the championship winner of 2007, 2010 and 2012 must be beaten consistently in order to be prevented from clinching the crown for a fourth time.
Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) saw his season start in difficult fashion, nudged off the track at Phillip Island before recovering to sixth position. He grabbed second place in Thailand at the last corner and, since then, has rocked up an impressive run of four straight victories while chief rival Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), with whom he fought so hard at Assen, continues to feel the effects of costly engine failures at Buriram and Aragon.
Last time out, British wildcard riders wrote the headlines for the journalists as the likes of Luke Stapleford, Sam Hornsey, and Andy Reid all impressed with top ten finishes on home turf at Donington Park. But it was Kyle Ryde who set the world alight, qualifying on the front row before finishing on the podium after battling with the front-runners. The 17-year-old now concentrates on his British Supersport title attack, but has been advised by Sofuoglu to move across to the World Championship as soon as possible.
Heading to Portimao, which debuted on the calendar in 2008 when Josh Brookes won from Andrew Pitt and Jonathan Rea, the fact that the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders have scored only seven more points than those of MV Agusta Reparto Corse proves how close things are at the front, while others have different objectives.
Elsewhere, Pata Honda World Supersport Team’s Kyle Smith will undergo a medical check early in the Portugal weekend, having crashed out of the Donington race at McLeans corner, while CIA Landlords Insurance Honda rider Kieran Clarke is on the sidelines following a heavy crash during a post-race track day at Donington. As he continues his recovery - having been hospitalised - the British rider’s place is taken by Portugal’s own Miguel Praia, who returns to the series and will make his 80th World Supersport race start just a short trip down the motorway from his hometown of Albufeira.
Honda may have scored points in the last 200 World Supersport races, but all of the focus will be on the leading Kawasaki and MV riders as the title battle intensifies…
Portugal Next For Championship Leader Sofuoglu
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s Kenan Sofuoglu will be out for a race win at the Portimao circuit on Sunday 7thJune to add to his already impressive 2015 FIM Supersport World Championship victory total.
His recent form has been outstanding, winning the last four WSS races in succession to lead the championship by 45 points, with half of the 12-round season now completed.
Sofuoglu has strong previous form at Portimao having been on the podium in all of his last six visits to the 4.592km track near the Algarve coast. Two of those podiums came in the form of race victories, in 2008 and 2010.
Alongside Sofuoglu inside overall the Puccetti Racing Team garage this year star rookie Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) is tenth in the championship currently, with a best individual finish of fifth.
Christian Gamarino and Dominic Schmitter (Go Eleven Kawasaki) continue their joint quest to finish inside the top ten by season end, as part of a closely linked group just behind Faccani.
Currently Schmitter is ranked 14th and Gamarino 15th, with both riders on the same points total of 22 – just one point behind 11th place.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I will race at Portimao and it is one of the tracks where I have had good results in the past. Our position in the championship is strong now and that is a good motivation for us entering the Portuguese round. It will not be a simple or easy weekend but our form is good. I am sure that because of the way we have been working this year and because of the help from Kawasaki our bike will be good over the bumps. We saw that at Donington as we had a big improvement in that area. Our gearbox settings and our general package is very good and hopefully we can make a strong result in Portimao.”
Following the latest developments regarding the Intermoto Ponyexpres team, Kawasaki is forced to withdraw support to the team leaving Puccetti Racing and Go Eleven as the main Ninja ZX-6R equipped teams in the Supersport class.
Smith targeting return to World Supersport podium
Pata Honda rider Kyle Smith is aiming for a return to form on his Honda CBR600RR in this weekend’s seventh round World Superpsort championship race at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve near Portimao in Portugal.
After podium finishes at Aragon and Assen, the 23-year-old British rider crashed out of the following two races at Imola and Donington Park and is focused on a return to the front in this Sunday's 18-lap World Supersport race.
Smith is a big fan of the 4.592km track, situated 25km from the busy resort of Portimao on Portugal's Algarve coast, and the Spain-based rider enjoyed a good ride there on Honda’s CBR1000RR Fireblade SP in last season’s Superstock 1000 race, just missing out on a podium finish.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my riding since Donington, especially on how I can work better on setting the bike up. Donington was a new track for me and maybe I was concentrating too much on learning the circuit and not enough on the bike. I struggle with the front end in the early laps with a full tank of fuel and a new tyre; then I seem to be putting in my best laps towards the end of races, so I need to understand why that is. I really like the Portimao track though and had a good race there last year, so I’m looking forward to getting on the CBR again on Friday morning.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Kyle hasn’t had a good run lately, that’s clear, but we’ve all had a good look at the things we need to improve. We have some new components to try this weekend, especially at the front with a new fork setting, in order to get him a better feeling on the bike. But he knows and likes the Portimao circuit so that’s a good feeling to start the weekend with!
Superstock 1000 blasts into second half of season
The fourth round of the FIM Superstock 1000 Cup sees the start of the second half of the season for 2015. From the first half, Italy’s Lorenzo Savadori (Nuova M2 Racing and last year’s runner-up) has collected 95 of the maximum 100 points on offer, with arguably his only faux pas being the final lap loss of the lead in the Aragon season-opener.
Since moving to the top of the standings at Assen, Savadori’s cup-leading advantage has increased gradually from 12, to 25 and now to 30 points, first over Raffaele de Rosa (Althea Racing Ducati) and now Roberto Tamburini (Team MotoxRacing BMW). Tamburini is the only rider other than Savadori to have won a race, missing out on the rostrum only at Assen due to a costly rider error. De Rosa has been less fortunate, slipping to fifth in the standings with two podiums to his name, but with the non-scoring Imola race being anything but his own fault.
Third overall is now Triple-M by Barni’s Ondrej Jezek (two podiums plus further fourth and fifth place finishes) from MRS Yamaha’s Kev Coghlan, having scored just one podium but 50 points thanks to noteworthy consistency. With word continuing to strength that Yamaha will be back in World Superbike next year, the Scot could be in the running for a seat.
Last year in Portugal, Savadori completed a wonderful weekend with victory from pole position, joined in Parc Ferme by Frenchman Matthieu Lussiana and South African David McFadden. With Savadori’s lead already greater than the number of points scored for a race win, his rivals must ensure a repeat Portimao victory does not take place…
A hand on the Superstock 600 title: what Toprak has to do
If Jonathan Rea’s start to the World Superbike season has been mighty impressive, Toprak Razgatlioglu’s dominance of the FIM Europe Superstock 600 Championship has been nothing other than unprecedented. The dazzling Turkish talent, just 18 years of age, holds a 100% win record dating back to Magny-Cours at the end of 2014.
As the Superstock 600 season consists of just eight races, Toprak’s utter supremacy with Kawasaki Puccetti Racing – mentored by three-time World Supersport Champion Kenan Sofuoglu – leaves him in a position to clinch the title at Portimao this weekend, with another three races still to go. It may require a certain set of circumstances, but it could happen.
For Toprak Razgatlioglu to seal the title in Portugal, he must win the race with the following conditions all applying:
Federico Caricasulo finishes 11th or lower
Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Gauthier Duwelz finish sixth or lower
Niki Tuuli finishes fifth or lower
Andrea Tucci does not finish on the podium
Elsewhere, there are some changes to the line-up. Former Grand Prix racer Toni Finsterbusch of Germany will race in Portugal, substituting for Ilya Mikhalchik at Team Go Eleven. Another former GP racer, Bryan Schouten from The Netherlands, is covering for Gauthier Duwelz at MVR-Racing. Anthony Dumont is out of action, with his place at Agro-On WILsport Racedays being taken by Great Britain’s Josh Harland. On top of this, two Italian wildcards will competing, armed with Yamaha YZR R6 machinery: Vincenzo Lagonigro with the FELICIA BIO team, plus Rodolfo Oliva who enters with Team MotoxRacing.
MRS Yamaha Prepares for Portugal
Following their visit to Donington Park a fortnight ago, the MRS Yamaha team is back on the road and heading to the seventh round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship held at the Autódromo Internacional Algarve this weekend.
After an exciting home race, Kev Coghlan looks forward to riding his YZF-R1M at the technical Portuguese track. He has kept up with the frontrunners throughout the first four rounds, scoring a brilliant third place podium finish at Aragón, sixth in Assen, fourth in Imola and fifth at Donington Park and currently holds fourth position in the overall standings with a 50 point total.
Despite sustaining a small fracture to the fifth bone in his right hand during testing earlier this week, the Scotsman is still positive. Coghlan is confident he can start the second half of the 2015 FIM Superstock 1000 Cup season with another strong finish as he looks to bridge the three-points gap to third place.
Teammate Florian Marino also showed a competitive pace at the start of the season. The Frenchman scored two promising seventh places in Aragon and Assen, before a crash in Imola saw him injure his left arm, forcing him to sit out the round in the United Kingdom.
The 22 year old is on the road to recovery and is set to make his comeback this weekend, just four weeks after the incident. He is eager to get back out on track, which he considers the best birthday present he could have asked for. He will be looking to add valuable championship points to his 18 points total and climb up from 12th place in the rankings.
Algarve, commonly referred to as Portimão Circuit, was first added to the eni FIM Superbike World Championship calendar at the end of 2008, shortly after the circuit's inauguration. Its date has since been moved to the middle of the season making the chance of perfect weather conditions for some hot racing action all the bigger.
"We have already tested at Portimão in the winter and I know that the guys from the team have been working really hard on improving the bike. From my side, the only thing I could do was to recover as fast as I could, keep training and keep believing that I could come back for Portimão, which is what I'm going to do. It will be a challenge because there will be some pain, but for me it's the best option; I can come there, ride the bike and to see where we are now. I have been riding an YZF-R1 on the road and I could already feel that I could manage the machine. On the track it will be different situation, but I have set my mind on this weekend and I think that I'll be ok."
Superstock 600 - Round in Algarve for San Carlo Team Italia
Turning point of the season, Rinaldi and Tucci try the attack.
In Portugal, at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve of Portimão, the European Superstock 600 is at the turning point of the 2015 season, with the riders of San Carlo Team Italia expected to be protagonists, after the good performances of the previous rounds of the European calendar. Even though they haven't got the amount of points they really deserved since the start of the season at Alcañiz, Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Andrea Tucci will do their best to make up ground in the standings, leaving behind a series of unlucky episodes that compromised their path to the top of the championship.
While racing for the victory in the last round at Imola, Michael Ruben Rinaldi crashed out in the first part of the race, due to a very unlucky contact with the leader of the Championship, Toprak Razgatlioglu. Third in the standings at the moment, with 40 points thanks to two second places in four races, "Mike" will definitely try the attack to the podium and, if possible, will fight for the victory.
It's a goal shared also with Andrea Tucci, author of an impressive performance at Imola, which has been awarded with the conquest of the third point, his first seasonal podium. Improving constantly in the last rounds, the rider who was third in the 2014 European Superstock 600 Championship, works for the continuity of results to improve his position in the standings, starting from his 6th place and trying to be among the candidates for the podium in the only race scheduled on Saturday 6th June at 17:50 Local Time.
Stefano Cruciani (Sports Manager - San Carlo Team Italia STK600)
"Until now we weren't able to achieve the points that we deserved, so at Portimao we hope that we will reach the first seasonal victory. Thinking about Imola, our goal is to carry on the positive trend with Tucci, and to do better with Rinaldi, who got less points than he deserved in the last races. The premises are good and both our riders are ready. From Friday we will work every single moment, to get out on track for the race in the best way: the goal is to work well with our two riders."
Supersport World Championship
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve of Portimao hosts also the seventh round of the 2015 Supersport World Championship, with Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing) expected to be one of the protagonists of the weekend. At his first season in the class, the rider from Ravenna is in the top-10 in the standings, despite the unlucky weekend of Donington Park, compromised by a bruise to the right collarbone in practice, due to a contact caused by another rider. In these two weeks off, Faccani has completely recovered from the injury and he's ready to ride his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R #5 into the best position of the standings, in a track, where he dominated the European Superstock 600 Championship with San Carlo Team Italia last year.
Hoogenboezem joins Gerardo at Agro-On WIL Sport Racedays
Racedays Honda has announced that New Zealand Supersport Champion, Alastair Hoogenboezem, will partner Uruguay's Maxi Gerardo in the squad for the Misano, Jerez and Magny Cours rounds of the FIM Europe Superstock 600 Championship.
This will be the first racing trip to Europe for the 22-year-old Hoogenboezem and he is looking forward to riding the team's Honda CBR600RR in the highly competitive support class to the eni FIM World Superbike Championship.
"I'm really excited for the challenge ahead, the experience it will become and being able to compare myself to some of the best young riders in the world."
Gerry Bryce - team principal:
"We're very pleased to welcome Alastair to the team and I would like to thank Phil London of WIL Sport for his help in supporting Alastair's debut into international racing. It will be a challenge for Alastair with new team, bike and circuits but he has adapted well in the past with some great results at new tracks. For the Portimao round WIL Sport rider Josh Harland will have the opportunity to try out the Racedays Honda CBR 600 RR before returning to racing in the PATA European Junior Cup in Italy."