Portimao Private WSBK Test, Monday: Lowes And Laverty Lead Suzuki Clean Sweep

The final day of testing for the World Superbike riders at Portimao at last gave everyone a full day of riding on a dry track. Though the rain stayed away, cool temperatures and a lack of rubber on the track made conditions far from ideal, but at least the teams could get some of the work done they had planned for the test.

The day ended with a Suzuki topping the timesheets, much as it had on Sunday. This time, it was Alex Lowes putting the Voltcom Suzuki GSX-R1000 at the top of the standings, after spending a long day pounding out the laps at the track. Lowes ended the day with a small but harmless spill, which did cause the session to be red-flagged for half an hour, cutting the test short. Before his crash, Lowes was lapping close to the race lap record set by Tom Sykes during the race here back in June last year.

Yesterday's fastest man Eugene Laverty set the second fastest time, just a tenth behind his Suzuki teammate, Laverty continuing to work on electronics and bike balance. The Irishman was three tenths quicker than Pata Honda's Jonathan Rea and factory Ducati rider Davide Giugliano, who were in turn two tenths faster than Aprilia's Marco Melandri. Rea and teammate Leon Haslam had spent the test working on electronics, trying to improve engine braking and throttle response. Ducati have brought a big pile of parts for Giugliano and Chaz Davies to test, and despite the weather, the pair managed to get a lot of work done. The priority for Ducati was testing the new parts, rather than working on a specific set up to allow them to set a fast time. For Melandri, still testing with test rider Alex Hofmann while Sylvain Guintoli recovers from shoulder surgery, the focus was on electronics, as well as engine reliability, a weak point of the RSV4. Melandri's progress was good with the electronics, but he struggled to find a chassis set up for the test.

The World Superbike riders have now packed up and are on their way home. The next test is at Jerez at the beginning of February, after which they fly south to Australia for the first race of the year.

Times, courtesy of GPOne.com:

Pos No Rider Team/Bike Time Diff Diff prev
1 22 Alex Lowes Voltcom Suzuki 1:42.5    
1 50 Eugene Laverty Voltcom Suzuki 1:42.6 0.1 0.1
3 65 Jonathan Rea Pata Honda 1:42.9 0.4 0.3
4 34 Davide Giugliano Factory Ducati 1:42.9 0.4 0.0
5 33 Marco Melandri Factory Aprilia 1:43.1 0.6 0.2
6 7 Chaz Davies Factory Ducati 1:43.2 0.7 0.1
7 91 Leon Haslam Pata Honda 1:43.3 0.8 0.1
8 20 Sylvain Barrier BMW Evo 1:44.0 1.5 0.7
9 71 Claudio Corti MV Agusta 1:44.5 2.0 0.5
10 66 Alex Hofmann Aprilia, tester 1:45.0 2.5 0.5
11 11 Jeremy Guarnoni Kawasaki Evo 1:45.3 2.8 0.3


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Glad to see Suzuki are getting up to speed, and it looks like Ducati are starting to get the Panigale sorted. The World Superbike series usually provides the best racing, and it's always more interesting when there are several factory contenders.
I can remember the time when Honda stayed out of the 500cc world championship because two-strokes had no relevance to their line of road bikes. Now they only compete seriously in MotoGP, where the bikes are so exotic that they're useless on the road.
One can't help wondering if Honda prefers this situation, because in a limited field, they can better influence the writing of the rule book to their advantage.

I cannot tell if it is the bike, or the new riders helping. I get the feeling it is a mixture of both. Glad to see Suzuki posting good test times again. It has been awhile since they seemed to have something.