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.
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The World Superbike testing season has gotten off to a slow start, with the weather around Portimao apparently unwilling to cooperate. Heavy overnight rain left the circuit wet on Sunday morning, but conditions improved enough for the riders present to fit slicks in the afternoon and start to work on set up.
While the Moto2 and Moto3 riders are busy in Almeria, the World Superbike teams are busy at Jerez. As usual, Tom Sykes is dominating proceedings, the newly-crowned WSBK champion circulating well under pole record pace at the Spanish circuit. Sykes lapped six tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz, and nine tenths faster than Marco Melandri, the Italian now riding the factory Aprilia.
Loris Baz has topped the timesheets at the two-day test held at Aragon for some of the World Superbike teams. Baz had spent the test working on bike set up, on a track he has not run well on in the past. The Frenchman ended up three tenths quicker than Jonathan Rea, at his first full test after returning from a broken femur. Rea and Pata Honda teammate Leon Haslam spent most of their time working on electronics, making big steps with the HRC package they had struggled with for most of the season.
2013’s World Superbike season is done and dusted. All the appeals are settled and the points are final. The racing at Jerez was nearly touched by the weather, but luckily for the series, it stayed dry for the world championship races.
World Superbike race two at Jerez would end in the traditional Spanish fireworks being lit by the world champion, but would they be lit on the track? With Marco Melandri sitting it out due to an injured foot, hurt at home, not on the track, a major catalyst for action would be missing.
Sam Lowes and Kenan Sofuoglu came to Jerez with five race wins a piece this year and a score to settle.
The race started with Kenan Sofuoglu leading the MV Agustas of Roberto Rolfo and Christian Iddon into the first turn, with Sam Lowes behind them. Lowes dispatched Iddon fairly quickly and the front three made a run for it.
Twenty one laps of a dry race at Jerez, after a damp Superstock race, would not be the most exciting race for the most part, but moments of absolute brilliance shone through.
Eugene Laverty led from the lights, followed by Tom Sykes, but Marco Melandri took second place very quickly, leaving Sykes to fend off Sylvain Guintoli for third. Toni Elias took fifth off Davide Giugliano and the race was set for a good few laps, with no rider changing positions for over a dozen laps.
In the second timed qualifying, Federico Sandi either didn’t see or ignored a black flag with orange circle and was fined €500 by Race Direction. As he qualified for Superpole in that session, it’s unlikely he will be complaining much.
The last Superpole of the year opened with fifteen riders vying for twelve spots, as usual in dry sessions, with two qualifying tyres to spend in three sessions.
Tom Sykes, after just nine laps of free practice, crashed his bike and sat out the rest of the session, but six laps earlier, he set the fastest time in a session that looked like riders were testing tyres rather than hot-lapping. Jules Cluzel recorded the second fastest time ahead of Toni Elias.
Vladimir Leonov, teammate to newly crowned world champion Sam Lowes, leads Kenan Sofuoglu by three tenths of a second, with Lowes third fastest. The session was red-flagged with under a minute to go due to a crash. No riders were injured. Fabien Foret, aiming for third in the championship, continues his standard of leaving it until Sunday, two seconds off front-row pace.
Davide Giugliano and Toni Elias, each of whom topped a session yesterday, beat out the factory Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli, while Tom Sykes, fastest throughout a large portion of today's session, held off the BMWs of Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies. Lorenzo Lanzi was, as has been the case all weekend, faster than both the factory Ducatis.
World Superbike racing has not been held at Jerez since 1990, favouring the MotoGP men for experience, much like Istanbul. However, many teams used the track last winter for testing, so none of the title contenders arrived blind.
Davide Giugliano takes provisional pole ahead of Aprilia's party spoiler Marco Melandri and three other Aprilias. Eugene Laverty rounds out the provisional front row, with Toni Elias, the morning's pace man holding the top spot until an early crash, fourth fastest ahead of Sylvain Guintoli.