Press releases after the Portimao World Superbike test:
Jonathan Rea tops final day of pre-season testing at Portimao.
WorldSBK and WorldSSP riders completed a busy two-day test in Portugal ahead of the 2019 season opener.
WorldSBK and WorldSSP riders completed the final day of testing around Autodromo do Algarve in Portimao, which hosted from 27th-28th January the final two-day European pre-season test before the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season will kick off in Australia next month.
A stronger wind blew at the Portuguese rollercoaster race track, but riders didn’t back down and aware of the importance of every single hour of testing available, they took to the track early in the morning to make their final arrangements ahead of the WorldSBK season opener.
Both the days saw stiff competition with many riders and four different manufacturer bikes contending the top spot till the very last minute of on-track activity, showing off similar paces.
But in the end, it was reigning World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team) who came out on top at the end of the two days, despite suffering a small crash on the final minutes of on-track activity. Working on finding a good base setup for his Kawasaki ZX-10RR, the Northern Irishman was happy with the improvement made with his crew during the off-season, and he now looks forward to Australia to see where they really stand. On the other side of the garage, Leon Haslam was more than pleased in ending the European Winter test in fourth position. Returning to the WorldSBK championship after four years, the British rider was able to find back his confidence with the WorldSBK machine over the four days of testing at Jerez and Portimao.
Bringing on the fight to Rea and the green machines, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) continued with his stunning pace also on Day Two at Portimao, as he closed in second position 0.959 s behind Rea. Together with his teammate Michael van der Mark, who finished fifth, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders successfully completed their program, as they worked on confirming the new parts tested during the days before.
In the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati garage Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista were able to make consistent progress working on the base setup of the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 R. Testing different tyres and many aspects of his new bike, Alvaro Bautista set an outstanding fastest lap time of 1’41.934, taking the third spot of the timesheets, on a race track with such unique features, that he barely knows. Team-mate Chaz Davies who was still struggling with back pain put in 42 laps on the V4 R today and finished a tough test in 11th position.
But it wasn’t just the green, blue and red machines to impress at Portimao. BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team rider Tom Sykes put in a sensational lap today, conquering the sixth spot in 1’42.246.
The British rider was surprised by how close they were, considering they are still in their development phase. Also, Markus Reiterberger, who worked on the geometry of the bike and on testing different tyres, completed a positive test finishing tenth overall. After their sixth day on track with the new BMW S1000RR, which colours were revealed today live on their social media channels, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team can now head to Australia with a lot of confidence after their positive work.
Continuing to adapt to the WorldSBK bike, 2018 WorldSSP World Champion Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) set the seventh fastest lap time, while teammate Marco Melandri closed eighth overall.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) had a strong pace on both days as he closed in ninth position. The Turkish rider worked on improving his feeling on board the Kawasaki ZX-10RR that will only be updated into the 2019 version at Phillip Island. Working also alongside a new crew chief, it was a positive two-day test for the young rider and his team.
It was a tally two-day test for Independent team riders Michael Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), both working on the development of their Ducati Panigale V4 R. The Italian rider closed in twelfth position, while Laverty, who still have a lot of work to do with his new team, finished thirteenth.
Developing the new Honda CBR1000RR, 2019 WorldSBK rookie Alessandro Delbianco finished fourteenth after two days trying to get acquainted with the WorldSBK machine.
Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) set the fastest lap time among the WorldSSP riders who were also out testing in Portugal. The Frenchman closed 0.573 secs ahead of the MV Agusta F3 675 of Italian rider Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) and 0.879 ahead of Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).
Rea Fastest As Haslam Goes Fourth
Kawasaki Racing Team riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam have now completed the European-based legs of their winter testing programme, with Rea setting the fastest lap and Haslam ending another successful test fourth overall.
After a positive test at a partially resurfaced Jerez just a few days ago the entire KRT team arrived at Portimao ready for two more days of action, at what is a very different track design and layout from its Spanish equivalent. Undulating and featuring many blind corners, Portimao is an exciting track for the riders and almost unique in terms of its character compared to the other WorldSBK circuits.
This outing was the first opportunity for Haslam to ride his official Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR at the 4.592km track near the Algarve coast. Portimao features as a round of the championship itself again this year, in early September, which added another layer of significance to the final days of the European winter test season.
Rea tried out a qualifying rear tyre to set a best lap earlier today and then went out again and bettered it, to leave with an untouchable 1’40.885 lap time. He was almost a second faster than the second quickest rider Alex Lowes. A late fall on his very last lap, shortly after performing a practice start, left Rea uninjured and fully ready to take on the next challenges in Australia.
Haslam’s best lap of the test was a 1’42.144, set on a qualifying tyre. His impressive best time on a race tyre was only just 0.1 seconds slower, after he got interrupted when going for a final quick lap on a Q tyre.
Rea and Haslam also had the first chance to use the new Pirelli SCX rear tyre, designed for the new initiative of a ten lap Sunday morning ‘sprint’ race in WorldSBK, which will feature in addition to the traditional full distance races on Saturday and Sunday.
With the new Ninja ZX-10RR having been tested by Rea and Haslam at three different tracks now, on four different occasions in all, the results have been positive for both riders and Kawasaki technical staff.
The next track sessions will be the official organisers’ tests at Phillip Island in Australia, shortly before the first round of the championship. The final pre-season tests will take place on Monday the 18th and Tuesday the 19th of February.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It has been a super-positive test. We came from the Jerez and I was still understanding the bike and the asphalt there. It made it difficult to understand the work we had done over the winter. But coming here we had quite a neutral platform to work with and a lot of data. Although the temperatures did not get into a perfect operating window it gave us a consistent effort over two days. We confirmed the chassis items we tested at Jerez, and electronically we worked a bit better. We started to work on our race performance. I was really happy with how I felt with a lot of laps on the tyre compared to last this time last year. I got to try a qualifier at the end of the day and that felt quite good and I was really fast with it. This test ticked every box, just a couple of little items we could have re-checked and gone over. But the priorities were done and we got to try some new Pirelli tyres as well.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “A good test for us and we made a step with the lap time. I made a 1’42.2 with a race tyre, which I was really happy with. I did not get any benefit from using the soft tyre mainly because with the first chance to go faster there was a red flag and for the second one I got rained on. I never really got a chance to go for one lap again. That was a little bit frustrating but on the race tyre times I was really happy. I made some good steps and tried a few things, including a different front tyre for the first time, which I felt was a bit better. We only had one of them so I could not put it toward an even better lap time. But I was consistently in the 1’42s, so I am pretty happy with things.”
Pere Riba, Crew Chief for Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am really happy because we have been improving since yesterday morning. Here we confirmed some items that were on the list, mainly with the balance of the chassis. The new engine has a small difference in the character on corner entry or corner exit, and the revs are different, which also changes the character a bit. This also affects the chassis and we tried to put it all together. Honestly speaking we made a step forward and Johnny was flying. On the race tyres we made a lot of laps and after many laps it was we were still doing very strong times. The tyre wear was good and overall everything was very good.”
Marcel Duinker, Crew Chief for Leon Haslam, stated: “I am very satisfied because this was the final day before moving to Phillip Island. We managed to do a 1’42.2 on race tyres, and not in the first lap, after a couple of laps. We made some progress on set-up for the Portimao race weekend but that is not just what we were here for. We are here to improve the base machine and introduce some items that we tested already in Jerez, and reconfirmed at this track. Leon feels happy with his bike. Of course we know that this is a very special track, not the average racetrack we face during the season. You can try to make a base set-up here but it is just a waste of time. A good lap and consistency on race tyre means we are ready for Phillip Island and I am looking forward to it.”
Lowes Leads the Way For Yamaha in Portimão
It was Alex Lowes who once again led the Yamaha charge in Portugal, with the 28-year-old Briton continuing his impressive form to finish the two-days of testing second on the timesheet. After a difficult opening day in Portimão, Michael van der Mark made a significant step forward on day two of the test to finish in fifth position, just over 0.3s off the time of his Pata Yamaha WorldSBK teammate. The GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK team riders, Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri, enjoyed mixed fortunes in Portimão. While Cortese declared himself satisfied with his progress during the test, which he finished in seventh position, Melandri was frustrated in his attempts to find a base set up to suit his riding style and was forced to settle for eighth position on the timesheet as a result.
Lowes quickly mastered the cool and blustery conditions that greeted the riders on the opening day of the test, with a fast and consistent pace securing him second place reigning World Champion, Jonathan Rea. Van der Mark found the conditions more taxing, as he struggled to find a good feeling with his Yamaha YZF-R1 and was disappointed to climb no higher than seventh on the timesheet.
Both Pata Yamaha riders made significant improvements on the second day of testing, despite falling temperatures and even more unpredictable winds at the Portimão circuit. Lowes once again claimed second place on at the end of the day but was unable to reduce Jonathan Rea’s advantage at the top of the timesheet after running into traffic on his fastest lap. Major changes to the set up of his YZF-R1 saw van der Mark rediscover his pace on day two, which he finished in fifth position, but the former Supersport World Champion is confident of further improvement ahead of the opening race in Phillip Island.
Cortese declared himself satisfied with his progress over the two days in Portimão, a track that he was riding for the first time aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 he’ll campaign for GRT Yamaha this season. The reigning Supersport World Champion worked with his crew to refine the set up of the bike, whilst also adapting his riding style to better suit the demands of the YZF-R1 and the technical Portimão circuit. Cortese was the quickest of the two GRT Yamaha riders, ending the test in seventh position.
It proved a difficult two days in Portugal for Melandri. The former 250cc World Champion worked tirelessly with his crew to set up his Yamaha YZF-R1 to better suit his riding style but struggled to get the bike to work for him under braking and on corner entry. Melandri ended the two days eighth on the timesheet but remains confident that he and his crew can find a solution ahead of next month’s third and final preseason test in Phillip Island.
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P2 – 1’41.814
"It's been a really positive test for me here in Portimão, a track at which I've struggled a little previously on the Yamaha. During this test we've found some strong, consistent pace and my fastest lap came on the sprint race tyre as I ran into traffic on the qualifier, so I know there's more to come. But it's not the one-off fast lap time that's important. What's made me happy is the fact that I posted a lot of fast and consistent laps on every run, we managed to complete the whole test program and we're now in a good position ahead of the test and race in Phillip Island. We've had a really strong winter, put the hard work in, made no mistakes and, hopefully, we can reap the reward with a strong start to the season in Phillip Island next month."
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK – P5 – 1’42.191
"It's been quite a difficult test for me here in Portimão. We struggled to find the right feeling with the bike on the first day, despite trying many things in the search for improvement. On the second day we started again, making some big changes on the bike and, immediately, I felt so much more comfortable. It was also difficult with the weather today, as it was quite cold with a lot of wind. We worked really hard to try many things, but there are still a couple of areas where I am missing a bit, so there is still some work to do. This is where we need to focus our efforts ahead of the next test in Phillip Island, an amazing track where I really enjoy riding. I'm confident we can make another step forward there and that we'll be ready for the first race of the season."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P7 – 1’42.469
"Overall this was a very productive test. Portimão is a new track for me with the Yamaha YZF-R1 and we started more or less from zero here. We came with the base set up from Jerez, where we were quite happy, but we had to adapt the bike a lot for Portimão, which is a very special circuit with the changes in elevation. So the first job was to learn the circuit on this bike and only then could we start work on refining the set up. Over the two days we made some big improvements and, day by day, I learnt more about the riding style that these bikes require. It's a learning process but it is progressing well and we ended with a relatively good feeling. I know what I need to work on over the next two weeks and the team have a clear direction in which to work also ahead of the third and final test in Phillip Island."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK – P8 – 1’42.507
"This was a very difficult test for me. I came here expecting a little bit more, but it looks like we're going around the real problem, unable to find a solution. For me it's very difficult at the moment to brake how I want; the bike doesn't respond well to my riding style under braking and on entry to the corner. We tried everything we could here in Portimão, but it looks like it's not enough. Now we need to try some different options in Phillip Island, go a different way with the set up, in order to find a solution ahead of the first race of the season."
Bautista and Davies wrap up two further days of testing at Portimão with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team
Álvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies, the two Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team riders, have concluded two days of winter testing at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve circuit in Portimão.
After last weeks’ test at Jerez, this one in Portugal gave a further opportunity to the team, engineers and riders to gather as much data as possible for the development of the brand-new Panigale V4 R, the four-cylinder machine that this year will be making its track debut in the Superbike World Championship. As it is a totally new project, the riders were not on a quest for outright performance, but instead they concentrated on putting together information to allow the engineers to analyse all the work carried out so far.
By working on all sectors of chassis, electronics and engine – as befits a new project – at Portimão the team positively concluded this important stage of the season, before departing for the official test and the opening round of the season at Phillip Island in Australia in two weeks’ time.
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 1:41.934
“For me these days testing at Portimão have been positive. Yesterday was a bit more difficult than today because it was my first time ever here at Portimão, a very difficult circuit to learn and full of ups and downs, so I struggled a bit, but today I felt a lot better on the bike and managed to improve. It’s the last time we test the V4 R before leaving for Australia, so I wanted to do as many laps as possible to get to know the bike better. We are confident because we’ve found a good base even though we know there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 1:43.361
“It’s been a couple of testing days in more ways than one! Physically I’m not really recovered from the twinge in the back I picked up in the Jerez test, so it hasn’t been the most comfortable time for me. On the flip side I’m very happy to have finished the test because I didn’t think it was going to be possible, but I did some good physio between the tests that allowed me to lap. Portimão is really important because it’s another track where we need to find a good base set-up for the V4 R, while I try and get fully acquainted with the bike. We’re not there yet and we’ll keep on working but I’m confident and looking forward to getting to Phillip Island for the opening round.”
The next appointment for Aruba.it Racing - Ducati will be the official team presentation on Monday 4th February at the Aruba Global Cloud Data Centre in Ponte San Pietro near Bergamo.
The Althea MIE Racing team concludes the European winter tests
Portimao (Portugal), Tuesday 29 January 2019
The Althea MIE Racing team has concluded a two-day test session at the Portuguese track of Portimao, which comes on the back of two additional days completed last week at Jerez de la Frontera in Spain.
On track with rider Alessandro Delbianco, who will debut in the Superbike category this season, the Italian squad made the most of the stable weather conditions, working tirelessly on its Honda CBR 1000 RR SP2 over the four available days. Getting to grips with what is a new bike for the team, technicians worked to identify a solid base setting, to be used as a starting point during the first rounds.
Completing many laps on board his new bike, and using only race tyres, young Delbianco has started to build confidence with the CBR 1000 RR SP2, gradually improving his general sensations without focusing unduly on lap times. Considering this is his first experience of the Superbike, it’s only normal that the rider needs a little time to adapt.
Satisfied with the work completed, the team will continue to make final preparations before travelling to Australia mid-February for a final test followed immediately by the opening round of the 2019 Superbike World Championship (22-24 February).
“I’m pleased with how the four days at Jerez and Portimao have gone. I really like the Honda and have to say it’s an honour for me to be riding a Superbike. I hadn’t ridden for a while prior to the tests and admit I didn’t expect the level of power, but I’m sure that once I get to grips with the bike, we’ll be able to achieve some positive results.”
Mahias and Okubo Make Testing Progress
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders Hikari Okubo and Lucas Mahias have now completed four successful days of winter testing in Europe, first at Jerez and now in Portugal, with both riders finding improvements in their settings and pace.
The Portimao tests were affected by strong winds and even a short fall of rain late in the final afternoon. With all their main development and set-up plans completed the team almost called a halt to their work with two hours to go, after the first spots of rain appeared. On a quickly drying track Mahias got back into action to double check some settings.
With a personal best lap time of 1.45.689, Mahias ended up third fastest over one single lap, with Okubo’s 1’45.915 making him fourth fastest of the ten WorldSSP riders who took to the track in Portugal.
The next test sessions for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP team will be the final ones before the season starts for real at Phillip Island in Australia. The test days are scheduled for the 18th and 19th of February, with raceday on Sunday the 24th of February.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I think we had a good test because I got to improve my best lap times and I understood my Kawasaki more. Our settings reached a good level and I had some more ideas about the bike. I am not in the very top lap times here so I am not so happy about that, and I need to think more and push harder in PI. But we can do this because the bike is good and my feeling with it is positive. I need one more step up, which is very important, but we can do it I think. We should be OK and I am happy to have had four days of testing.”
Lucas Mahias stated: “In general this test at Portimao was not so bad, but for sure I preferred the test in Jerez. We did not have such good weather today, with a lot of wind and it was not easy to understand the bike. The lap time is not so bad and the race simulation also. I am waiting for Phillip Island for more opportunities to test before the season starts.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda conclude first test of 2019 at Portimão
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda completed a successful two-day test at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve today with the team happy overall with the progress made.
The fair weather testing at the 4.592km Portuguese circuit gave rider Jules Danilo good track time to focus on settling in to the new team aboard the Honda CBR600RR as he debuted at a new circuit in a new Championship.
Danilo declared himself happy with his progress: “It was exciting to be back on a race bike, I hadn’t ridden since Valencia so that was a positive for me. There’s lots to learn, the bike and the track especially was quite difficult at first but we made some progress over the two days. I’m happy with how the team works I think we are getting on well. I am sure that if we keep on working we will be ready for Philip Island, that’s the goal. We still have one more test and I’m looking forward to that. I like Philip Island, I’ve done well there in the past so I can’t wait to get started.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “It’s been a really good test. We have to bear in mind that Jules had never ridden at Portimão before, never ridden a World Supersport bike and never ridden on Pirelli tyres before, so he has progressed over the two days and has started to understand the bike, how to get the best out of the tyres compared to what he rode in Moto2. He made a big improvement on day two so we are pleased and we can be optimistic to go to Australia and another two days of testing with Jules and Peter together. The bike worked well, the team worked well we’ve done a lot of work improving and upspeccing the bike and now to be running the Mektronic with the FIM WSS firmware there’s some work needs to be done there but we are looking forward to a strong start to the season. Well done to the team, let’s see what we can do.”