WSBK testing concludes in Portimão, next stop Phillip Island

The WSBK Portimao test has warpped up with Chaz Davies posting a 1:41.813, with teams now ready themselves to travel to Australia for the ‘Yamaha Finance’ opening round of the 2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and the official test at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit commencing on Monday 20th February.

After debuting on track in 2017 with a two-day test in Jerez de la Frontera, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team resumed action in Portimão with Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri for two more days on track ahead of the season opener at Phillip Island, scheduled in a month’s time.

Both riders moved forward with their respective programs, which were partially completed in Spain, to evaluate various engine, electronics and chassis upgrades developed for the Panigale R and make several setup comparisons. These tests, helped the riders and their crews to get reacquainted with the track, which is back in the calendar this year.

Chaz Davies
Chaz Davies
Chaz Davies – 1:41.813

“We did a lot of work in the past two days, as well as in Jerez, and overall we can be happy with the results. We completed a detailed program to evaluate all the technical upgrades, with good feedback. We were also lucky with the weather, because the rain only kept us in the pits during the first few hours on Saturday. Despite the fact that some areas were repaved, the track has gotten a bit bumpier since we last raced here and, consequently, it wasn’t easy to find the best possible setup. These tests, after a two-month break, were also crucial to allow me to get back the feeling I had on the bike towards the end of last year. Only in Portugal, we clocked more than 700 kilometers. The team has done a great job, and we’re optimistic ahead of the season opener in Australia, where we’ll take advantage of the final tests to fine-tune the details.”

After two days, Davies and Melandri respectively posted a personal best of 1:41.813 and 1:43.344. The Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team will resume action on February 20-21 in Phillip Island for the traditional pre-season tests before the opening round.

 
Marco Melandri
Marco Melandri
Marco Melandri – 1:43.344

“In these tests, we focused our work on race distance, but we’ve encountered a bit more difficulties compared with Jerez, partially due to some setup experiments that didn’t yield the expected benefits, but also because of the track’s conditions, as there are a bit too many bumps. We also did a race simulation, which was split in two because of red flags. We lacked a bit of stability and rear grip in order for me to ride with as much ease as I would have liked, but it was important nonetheless as we verified, with encouraging results, my fitness. At any rate, the overall feedback is positive. Until now everything worked perfectly, but it’s also important to confront ourselves with some obstacles, as there will be a few awaiting also during the championship. Now we’ll sit down with the whole crew to define the base ahead of Phillip Island.”

Lorenzo Savadori
Lorenzo Savadori

Milwaukee Aprilia completed their European pre-season testing at the Portimao circuit in Portugal with rider’s Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori having a busy test plan to work through this week, focusing on bike setup and verifying new parts for the Italian machine.

After finishing second and fourth at Jerez on Wednesday, the team headed to Portugal looking to enhance their understanding of the Aprilia and make the most of their pre-season track time.

Eugene, improving greatly throughout the test period, finished Sunday in P2 with a lap of 1’42.002, up on his 1’43.478 from Saturday.

Eugene Laverty
Eugene Laverty
Eugene Laverty – 1’42.002

“Today was a big improvement for us. I made good progress yesterday but I was still having to fight the bike, whereas today I was able to do a lot of laps and really get it feeling like my bike again. I feel like I can race with it now, and I felt comfortable on the race and quali tyres. It’s been a very productive two days, much better than Jerez, and we made big breakthroughs to resolve the chatter I was having. I’m feeling confident for Round 1 at Phillip Island; we have a good base to work from and the team is working really well together.  It’s one of my favourite tracks to ride, and with another test there I think we’re in a good position to really move forward.”

Lorenzo, a strong P2 on Saturday at Portimao with a 1.43.686, ended Sunday P3 with a time of 1’42.043

 
Lorenzo Savadori – 1’42.043

“It was a good day for us. I managed to do 73 laps and we have found a good direction to work in. The bike setup has got much better, and it’s working well for me. I need to improve my feeling on the bike still and get a bit more confident, but I’m very happy with how the test went. It’s great for me and the team to finish in a good position here, because everyone is working well and we are very driven. I’m really excited for the season to start at Phillip Island next month. Its been great to get some good testing done on the RSV4-RF, and I think for sure we will be in a good place when we start racing.”

Alex Lowes
Alex Lowes

The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team concluded a successful four days of pre-season testing, sharing the 4,592m track with over 30 World Superbike, Supersport and BSB riders.

Alex Lowes and teammate Michael van der Mark completed their respective test programmes and provided Yamaha’s engineers with detailed feedback to assist with the next stage of the WorldSBK YZF-R1’s performance development.

Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark

Encouraging progress throughout the week’s previous three days’ testing allowed a steady start to the final day as the Pata Yamaha Team completed a thorough rebuild of Lowes’ YZF-R1 after Saturday afternoon’s crash, ensuring the machine’s recalibrations and functions were to the correct specifications to continue the evaluation.

With increasingly threatening dark clouds overhead, the British rider immediately set out on a race simulation, choosing to concentrate on consistency rather than on single-lap performance.

Lowes produced a best time of 1’42.533 on his 54th lap of the day, tallying 128 across the Portuguese weekend. 

Alex Lowes
Alex Lowes
Alex Lowes – 1’42.533

“Honestly, I have to say we had two really good winter tests this week. Yesterday was difficult as we had a little problem but I’m really pleased with the way the team has worked and how I have worked overall. We completed another full race simulation today and it felt good, so we’ve put the work in as much as we can for the time we’ve had. I feel like I’m riding well and I’m looking forward to going to Australia. I’ve enjoyed the tests, you always want to do better but I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve. I can still improve myself on a few areas and get a little more comfortable but the YZF-R1 is feeling really like “my bike” now and I’m ready to go at Phillip Island – I’m looking forward to it!”

Having fully explored his set-up options with his newly-acquired Yamaha Superbike, van der Mark concluded January testing with a best of 1’42.794 on his 75th lap of the Algarve circuit, happy with the direction of progress.

Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark
Michael van der Mark – 1’42.794

“It was nice to get out on track early today, as this gave us the time to try many things on the bike and work out the correct direction to go. We also completed a race simulation and although I did not have the rhythm I wanted to achieve, it highlighted something to work on for the afternoon. In the end I am quite happy, we completed some good laps and my times are a lot closer than where we started at the beginning of the week so we have made some good progress. We also had the chance to try the ‘longer distance’ 2017 Pirelli rear qualifier which was interesting, I’m not sure when we will have the opportunity to use this at a race but it is a positive addition. I’m really happy to have had four good days of winter testing before we head to Phillip Island – thanks to the team and to Yamaha, I am enjoying myself on the YZF-R1!”

With every chassis adjustment providing valuable information for the Yamaha rookie, the continued evaluation of the ideal balance between grip and agility of the machine alongside its stability, both under braking and acceleration, has left the Dutchman confident of the YZF-R1’s performance on new and used rubber.

With 144 laps of the Portimão “rollercoaster” under his belt, van der Mark can now turn his attention to the first race of the year on Saturday 25th February. 

 
 
Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden

The Honda World Superbike Team has completed the second and final pre-season European test of its 2017 schedule today at Portimão Autodromo do Algarve, where Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl continued their preparation for the opening round of the season on board their brand-new Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines.

The first day of action at the Portuguese venue was characterised by a limited amount of track time available to the riders, who had to wait for the track surface to dry up after some overnight rain.

Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl

Today, both riders enjoyed far better conditions, which helped them in trying to improve the feeling with their machines as they kept working hard with their crews to move forward with the testing programme.

Despite having ridden at Portimão on no more than two occasions before – the most recent being this week’s world press launch of the new Fireblade – neither Hayden nor Bradl have any racing experience at the spectacular circuit located on the southern coast of Portugal, which is back on the World Superbike calendar after one year of absence.

Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden
Nicky Hayden – 1’43.492

“It was definitely not the easiest test, but it surely helped the team to collect a lot of data. It was also useful for me to come and learn this track. It has some fun corners but it definitely takes a few laps to get comfortable with the blind crests. Speaking of the work with the bike, the power is still not delivered quite smoothly enough so it wasn’t easy to find the grip and keep the bike calm under acceleration. We were unable to improve every area in quite the way we wanted but with the team’s work during these days we hope to be more competitive in Phillip Island, because there’s still a gap to bridge from the front runners.”

Nevertheless, the two Honda standard bearers quickly got to grips with its elevation changes and blind crests and improved their lap times considerably before the test drew to a close.

The team will return to their Dutch headquarters in the Netherlands to get ready for the official test and season opener at Phillip Island, which will be preceded by the official team launch taking place at Salzburg’s Hangar-7 on February 6th.

 
Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl
Stefan Bradl – 1’43.696

“It was not an easy two days of testing, as unfortunately we faced some issues that did not allow us to improve the way we would have liked. We still have to fully sort out the electronics and mapping for this engine so the bike is still a bit nervous. The data we collected in these four days of testing will be crucial in order to further develop the bike and be ready for the season opener. We will keep working hard and keep the motivation up in order to competitive for Australia and I’m sure we will be on the pace by then.”

Markus Reiterberger
Markus Reiterberger

The Althea BMW Racing team was back on track today and yesterday for a further two days of testing, this time at the Portuguese track of Portimao.

Unfortunately, after a crash at Jerez left him with a shoulder blade contracture, Jordi Torres was unable to participate this weekend.

His team-mate Markus Reiterberger was therefore joined by Raffaele De Rosa, winner of the Stock1000 championship with Althea in 2016, and on hand to help the Italian squad during this important test.

2016 WorldSBK, Superstock 1000 Champion Raffaele De Rosa - Althea BMW Racing Team
Last years Superstock 1000 Champion – Raffaele De Rosa – Althea BMW Racing Team
Raffaele De Rosa

“Coming here was a little unexpected but I’m very pleased to have chance to get back on the bike. The track is a difficult one but we tried to carry out as many tests as possible. Unfortunately I had a small crash around lunchtime and that cut into our time a little but, all things considered, I had fun and hope I’ve been able to provide the team with useful feedback.”

Both Reiterberger and De Rosa worked hard, providing the technicians with a significant amount of data, useful for the continuing development of the BMW S 1000 RR bikes.

Markus Reiterberger

“The test has been tough, but we’ve got a lot done, testing geometry, the Pirelli tyres, many things. I’m still struggling in terms of my feeling with the BMW but I hope to improve on this. I need to work even harder to see the results of the great work that the team is doing. I thank the team for their continuing hard work and hope we can obtain the desired results.”

Marco Faccani, also injured in a crash at Jerez, decided to ride both today and yesterday. Progress has been encouraging, though he was limited to a certain extent by shoulder pain.

Julien Puffe, who is continuing to get to grips with his new BMW, participated in the test with the newly formed Althea MF84 team, making good progress throughout the two days.