WSBK heads to Portimao for Round 8
The Superbike World Championship returns to Portugal’s charming southern coast for the eighth round of the season, which will take place this weekend at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao. The stunning 4.592km racetrack has been part of the World Superbike calendar since 2008, debuting shortly after the circuit’s completion. Given its fast and flowing layout, with many elevation changes and blind crests, the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve has always produced great racing.
Current points leader Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) has become a real headache for his opponents following his third double of the season two weekends ago at Misano and he is looking for more at Portimao, where he has won once previously (race one, 2012). The reigning champion has further extended his lead in the standings as he is now 39 and 41 points ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) and teammate Loris Baz, respectively.
The two Frenchmen had different results in Italy: Baz was twice second at the flag whilst Guintoli could never really challenge for a podium finish in any of the two encounters at Misano, despite the good form shown in the first two days, finishing 5th and 4th.
For the second round in a row the best classified Aprilia rider was Marco Melandri, who claimed two third places in his second home round of the season. The 31 year old from Ravenna, Italy, has scored 82 of his 179 points in the last two events and with two race wins he is the most successful WSBK active rider at Portimao, along with former teammate in the Yamaha days Eugene Laverty (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki).
Following another disappointing race day in the season, the Irishman hopes to display the same level of performance shown at the start of the year at Portimao, when both he and teammate Alex Lowes were atop the timesheets in the first private test of 2014. Despite taking a historic win on his Suzuki debut Laverty has failed to challenge the front runners on a regular basis, with his younger team mate Lowes often coming home as the lead Suzuki finisher.
Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea made his WSBK debut at Portimao as he stepped up from World Supersport for the season finale in 2008. The Ulsterman has claimed seven rostrum finishes out of twelve individual races in Algarve but he is still looking for his first win.
Davide Giugliano (Ducati Superbike Team) also had his first World Superbike experience at Portimao in 2011 after clinching the FIM Superstock 1000 title in the penultimate round of the season.
Claudio Corti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) has previously raced at Portimao in STK1000, with a best finish of second scored in 2009.
Portimao will be another new track once again for the Team Hero EBR duo Geoff May and Aaron Yates, who are hoping to improve their performance aboard their 1190RX machines after another disappointing round at Misano.
The battle for the ultimate prize in the EVO class continues as David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) is still the man to beat after seven rounds have been completed already. Niccolò Canepa (Team Althea Racing Ducati), Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki), Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki) and the rest of the EVO field will try and challenge the Spaniard for the best placement in the two races at Portimao.
After an impressive return at Misano a fortnight ago, Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team – EVO) is aiming to do even better in Portugal, where he won the STK1000 race last year. Luca Scassa (Team Pedercini Kawasaki – EVO) will be back in action following the injury sustained a few days after the Italian round at Imola in May.
The new adventure of Team Bimota Alstare in the series started at Portimao in March, when Ayrton Badovini and Christian Iddon rode their EVO-spec BB3 machines for the first time during a shakedown test.
Standings (Round 7 of 13): 1. Sykes 251; 2. Guintoli 212; 3. Baz 210; 4. Rea 199; 5. Melandri 179; 6. Davies 143; 7. Giugliano 111; 8. Elias 109; 9. Laverty 106; 10. Haslam 99; 11. Lowes 88; 12. Salom 67; 13. Canepa 43; 14. Camier 30; 15. Guarnoni 19; 16. Scassa 16; 17. Foret 14; 18. Corti 13; 19. Morais 10; 20. Andreozzi 9; 21. Barrier 6; 22. Allerton 6; 23. Bos 5; 24. Goi 5; 25. Staring 3; 26. Russo 2; 27. Toth 2; 28. Fabrizio 2; 29. Lanusse 1. Manufacturers: 1. Kawasaki 266; 2. Aprilia 244; 3. Honda 199; 4. Ducati 178; 5. Suzuki 156; 6. BMW 42; 7. MV Agusta 13.
The battle for supremacy in Supersport is shaping up as a two-way affair between points leader Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) and Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse). The two riders have been challenging each other for the race win in the last three rounds but, unlike at Donington and Sepang, Cluzel was able to edge out van der Mark for the win at Misano.
Both stars have fond memories of the Autodromo do Algarve, as Cluzel claimed victory over Kenan Sofuoglu in the 2012 World Supersport encounter, whilst van der Mark edged Riccardo Russo in STK600 on his way to secure his first title at international level. Last year the Dutchman was fourth at the flag in the WSS race after a spectacular four way battle for the win.
Florian Marino (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) needs to get back to the type of form shown earlier in the season as the Frenchman is now 50 points behind the leader in third. Several riders are looking for a strong result at Portimao in order to change the momentum and make up some ground in the standings, including Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki), Kev Coghlan (DMC-Panavto Yamaha) and Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda).
After his maiden podium scored two Sundays ago at Misano, American PJ Jacobsen (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki) is looking forward for another good result in his rookie WSS season.
Standings (Round 7 of 12): 1. Vd Mark 135; 2. Cluzel 107; 3. Marino 85; 4. Zanetti 70; 5. Coghlan 68; 6. Sofuoglu 67; 7. Jacobsen 56; 8. Rolfo 55; 9. De Rosa 54; 10. Tamburini 48; 11. Wilairot 30; 12. Bussolotti 27; 13. Wahr 26; 14. Russo 25; 15. Kennedy 23; 16. Gamarino 22; 17. Menghi 19; 18. Nocco 16; 19. Leonov 15; 20. Gowland 9; 21. Zaidi 7; 22. Coveña 7; 23. Schmitter 3; 24. Calero 3; 25. Roccoli 2; 26. Rogers 1. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 156; 2. Kawasaki 119; 3. MV Agusta 115; 4. Yamaha 78; 5. Triumph 9.
With three races left in the season, Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Team Ducati) has a 14 point lead over Lorenzo Savadori (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) and teammate Ondrej Jezek as the series heads to Portimao for what will be a crucial round in this year’s title race.
The Argentinean was second at the flag last time out at Misano behind Savadori, who claimed his first race win of the season in front of his home crowd after the disappointment of the previous race at Imola when he had to retire due to a technical problem while he was comfortably in the lead.
Jezek is aiming to get back on the podium after being edged out for third last time out by the likes of Fabio Massei (EAB Racing Ducati), who is currently fourth in the standings with a 28 point gap to the top.
Kevin Valk (MTM Racing Team Kawasaki), Matthieu Lussiana (Team Garnier by ASPI Kawasaki) and Kyle Smith (Agro-On Wil Racedays Honda) will also try to be in the mix at the front for a top-3 finish.
Standings (Round 4 of 7): 1. Mercado 72; 2. Savadori 58; 3. Jezek 58; 4. Massei 44; 5. Valk 39; 6. Lussiana 39; 7. McFadden 38; 8. Lanusse 37; 9. D’Annunzio 30; 10. Smith 22; 11. Nemeth 22; 12. Day 21; 13. Bergman 13; 14. Muresan 11; 15. Grotzkyj G. 10; 16. Pagaud 10; 17. Suchet 8; 18. Schacht 8; 19. Walraven 6; 20. Calia 4; 21. Castellarin 4; 22. Egea 2; 23. Moser 2; 24. Alarcos 1; 25. Ayer 1. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 90; 2. Kawasaki 83; 3. Honda 38; 4. BMW 31; 5. Suzuki 6; 6. Aprilia 4.
Marco Faccani (San Carlo Team Italia Kawasaki) was almost uncatchable in the 13 STK600 lapper at the Misano World Circuit two weeks ago and the Italian rookie now has a 23 point lead over Finland’s Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing Team Yamaha), who crashed early on in the Italian race wasting a good opportunity to stay in touch with the leader in the title fight.
Of the top-5 riders in the standings, only Wayne Tessels (Waynes Racing Team Suzuki), third, and Luca Salvadori (Team 10 Lap Racing Kawasaki), fifth, have previously raced at Portimao. Boosted by an impressive maiden podium finish in the series at his fourth ever STK600 race, Italian Federico Caricasulo (Evan Bros. Racing team Honda), who was the only rider able to take the fight to Faccani at Misano, is looking forward to build on his recent result and further move up in the points table.
Standings (Round 4 of 7): 1. Faccani 81; 2. Tuuli 58; 3. Tessels 52; 4. Tucci 45; 5. Salvadori 38; 6. Manfredi 35; 7. Caricasulo 30; 8. Mikhalchik 27; 9. Casalotti 25; 10. Duwelz 23; 11. Rinaldi 19; 12. Stirpe 16; 13. Lahti 14; 14. Hartog 13; 15. Sabatino 11; 16. Morrentino 10; 17. Marchal 10; 18. Nestorovic 10; 19. Zaccone 9; 20. Puffe 6; 21. Mercandelli 5; 22. Gobbi 5; 23. Lewis 5; 24. Zeelen 5; 25. Canducci 3; 26. Monti 2; 27. Pittet 2; 28. Patronen 1.
European Junior Cup
After winning his third race of the season at Misano following the usual thrilling battle to the finish line with several opponents, Augusto Fernandez (WIL Sport) increased his lead in the Pata European Junior Cup, powered by Honda, to 18 points over compatriot Javier Orellana (Europ Food S.L.) as the one make entry level series of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship approaches the sixth round of the year. Early leader in the season Marc Miralles (Honda Spain) has slipped down to third, with 42 points to make up from the lead.
Standings (Round 5 of 8): 1. Fernandez 104; 2. Orellana 86; 3. Miralles 62; 4. Fernandez 50; 5. Licciardi 44; 6. Hubner 40; 7. Perez 40; 8. Harland 38; 9. Grassia 35; 10. Soomer 34; 11. London 28; 12. Van Sikkelerus 25; 13. Ciprietti 20; 14. Wisdom 20; 15. Geissler 16; 16. Brink 13; 17. Hill 9; 18. Gabellini 7; 19. Ortt 6; 20. Moreno 5; 21. Drayton 4; 22. Zhu 4; 23. Epis 3; 24. Van Schoonhoven 3; 25. Patterson 2; 26. Levy 2.
Round 8, Portimao – Statistics by Michele Merlino
- In the last two seasons, Tom Sykes always showed podium form in Algarve, however not everything went the right way. Started in both cases from pole, two years ago he won in dominating fashion race one, but in race two his engine failed while he was running third. Last year he found himself in the lead in race one after Laverty’s failure and led until the nineteenth lap, then he was passed by Guintoli and Melandri, finishing third. In race two he fell on the formation lap, started from the pit-lane and set the lap record while running one lap down.
- Four podiums in Algarve for Sylvain Guintoli, who is looking for his first win here. He came second three times: in 2011 in race one, in both last year’s races and third in race one in 2012. All these results were obtained without starting from the front row (his best grid spot here is a fifth, in 2011 and 2013). Sylvain always finished among the top-five from 2011 onwards here. He adds to this remarkable set of results the fact that he scored points nine times out of ten here: consecutively from 2009 race two onwards.
- Loris Baz is looking for his first Superbike podium in Algarve, after finishing twice seventh in 2012 (he was suffering after a fall in the warm-up) and a fifth and a fourth last year. He raced three times in Superstock 1000 in this track, qualifying and finishing always among the top-seven: he was third in 2010 behind Ayrton Badovini and Maxime Berger.
- Jonathan Rea is the record holder for podium finishes in Algarve: seven out of twelve races run here, however he is still looking for his first win. He came third five times and second in 2009 race one and 2012 race two. Jonathan started from pole here in 2011 and missed out on a front row grid spot only in 2010 (5th) and 2012 (7th). No other rider counts four front row starts here and this value is even more significant if we consider that among all the Honda riders, only Cal Crutchlow managed to start from the front row here, in 2008, in second. Rea counts only two retirements in Algarve (2013 race one and 2010 race two), both for mechanical failures and only one finish below the fourth spot, when he was fifteenth in race two, 2008. That was his maiden Superbike weekend: he was fourth in race one.
- Marco Melandri won twice here: in 2011 race two and last year race one, in the latter passing Guintoli at the beginning of the final lap. In other two races his performances were at podium level: in 2011 race one and last year in race two: he was running third, but in both cases he suffered from tyre wear and finished respectively sixth and twelfth. For Marco also bad memories in Algarve: two years ago he fell on the opening lap trying to keep up with his championship rival Biaggi, having to sit out from race two while undergoing medical checks.
- Two Superbike weekends in Algarve for Chaz Davies: in 2012 everything went wrong: he couldn’t avoid Melandri, who had fallen in front of him in race one and in race two he fell while running second. Last year he was sixth in race one and fifth in race two.
- Davide Giugliano debuted in Superbikes here in 2011, scoring points in his second race (12th), but afterwards he didn’t enjoy much luck in Portimao: two retirements in 2012 (a fall in race one, front-end problems in race two), a fall in race one (and in Superpole) and a ninth last year.
- Two wins for Eugene Laverty in Algarve: in 2012 in race two and last year in race two. He could have added another, but last year his engine failed while he was leading race one. Eugene always started from the front row here: second in grid last year and third in 2011 and 2012. Laverty was on pole in the 2009 and 2010 Supersport races in Portimao: he won in 2009, but was only eleventh in 2010 after a fall while fighting for the lead.
- Three podiums out of eleven races run here for Leon Haslam: second behind Biaggi in both 2010 races and third in 2008 race two. He was very unlucky in the last two editions: two mechanical problems in 2012, while last year he was forced to withdraw as he was suffering from pain in the leg he broke in Assen.
- Four Superbike races in Algarve for David Salom, which was thirteenth in race one in 2009 and also thirteenth in 2012 in race two. In the Supersport championship he scored pole in 2011, finishing second behind Chaz Davies.
- Niccolò Canepa was fifth last year in Superstock 1000 and this will be his first Superbike race here.
- Three Superstock 1000 races for Jeremy Guarnoni in Portimao: in the last two seasons he was able to score two third places.
- Luca Scassa debuted here in 2008 and was 15th and 14th in the 2009 races. He raced here also in Supersport, finishing fourth in 2011 and eighth in 2013.
- Six Supersport races in Algarve for Fabien Foret. His best results in the last two: third in 2012 behind Jules Cluzel and Kenan Sofuoglu and second last year behind Sam Lowes.
- Claudio Corti was second behind Xavier Simeon in the 2009 Superstock 1000 race run here. In 2008 he was able to climb back to eight from the 21st grid spot.
- Sheridan Morais raced here in the Superbike championship in 2010, finishing seventeenth in race one, but he scored his best results in Supersport, with a sixth two years ago and a fifth last year.
- Alessandro Andreozzi was 12th in grid and 7th in last year’s Superstock 1000 race.
- Six Superstock 1000 races for Sylvain Barrier in Algarve: he won from pole last year and was second behind Bryan Staring two years ago, always starting from pole. In all the races run here in the aforementioned championship he qualified in the top-10 and finished among the top-7.
- Bryan Staring won the 2012 Superstock 1000 race here from Sylvain Barrier and Jeremy Guarnoni and was fourth the year before, two tenths shy of the third podium spot.
- Three Supersport races here for Imre Toth: his best result was a 20th in 2012.
- The best Superbike result for Ayrton Badovini in Algarve is a sixth in 2012, race two. Ayrton scored points six times out of eight here. In 2010 he won from pole the Superstock 1000 race.
- Christian Iddon was tenth in the Supersport race held last year in Algarve.
- Aprilia holds, with Ducati, the record for wins in Algarve, four, obtained thanks to a double by Biaggi in 2010 and the wins by Laverty in race/2 two years ago and race one last year. Aprilia, however, never started from pole here.
- BMW counts only one podium in Portimao: Melandri’s win last year in race one.
- Four wins for Ducati in Algarve, the last one in 2011 in race one with Carlos Checa. The last podiums came in 2012, race one, with Checa second and Guintoli third.
- Honda never won in Portimao, racking up nine podium placements (a record for this track, shared with Ducati): the first two in 2008 with Checa and Haslam, the last seven thanks to Jonathan Rea.
- Kawasaki won here in 2012 race one thanks to Tom Sykes, which took the Japanese bike on pole on this track in the last two editions. Kawasaki adds to that win only one podium placement: a third by Sykes last year in race one.
- Two podium placements for Suzuki in Portimao, thanks to Leon Haslam, second in both races in 2010.
After an almost perfect weekend at the previous round in Italy the official KRT and KRT SBK Evo squads head to the Portimao circuit near the Algarve coast ready to claim more wins and podiums in the FIM Superbike World Championship.
KRT SBK riders Tom Sykes and Loris Baz currently sit first and third respectively in the SBK Championship standings while KRT SBK Evo rider David Salom is 12th in the overall classification, but leads the internal Evo category points standings by a clear margin.
Despite the pain and reduced strength in his right hand and wrist that Sykes carried into the previous Misano round, after suffering injury in Malaysia, Sykes was unstoppable in Italy, winning Superpole and both races on his official Ninja ZX-10R.
This impressive double victory, somewhat against the odds and Sykes’ own previous formbook at Misano, took his season-long race-winning tally up to six and propelled him into a 39-point lead in the championship. Sykes has scored podiums at Portimao on his Ninja ZX-10R in the recent past, including a race win in 2012.
Baz was the only rider to get truly close to Sykes at the previous round and took two second places on his KRT Ninja ZX-10R, as he still pushes to get his first race win of 2014.
With seven podium places so far – peculiarly all second places and no thirds – Loris is only two points behind second place but 41 from his team-mate Sykes.
Loris has two previous race wins to his credit for Kawasaki in Superbike, and is understandably very keen to take his first race victory of the present season in Portugal. He finished fourth in race two at Portimao last year, after a fifth in race one.
David Salom has been on top form in the Evo class all season for the KRT team and sits 24 points clear of his closest challenger after half the season has been completed.
The 4.592km SBK venue at Portimao is a relatively compact and heavily undulating circuit, which has hosted an SBK round every year since its first arrival on the scene in 2008. On a modern day Superbike Portimao provides an intense test of concentration for the riders and a many vantage points for the spectators on the hilly terrain behind the holiday coast of the Algarve.
Once more the raceday schedule will undergo some modifications from the previous round, with SBK race one at 12 noon and race two at 15.00 local Portuguese time, which is one hour behind most of the rest of Europe.
After the intensity of the Portimao weekend the SBK teams get little rest as the next round will be held at the popular venue of Laguna Seca in the USA on Sunday July 13th – just a few days after the completion of the Portuguese races.
Tom Sykes: “I have enjoyed some time off after the double win at Misano and my injured hand and wrist are slowly improving. We go to Portugal now and for me I think the layout is a little bit extreme for a Superbike in this era. The undulations are almost a little bit over the top but after Misano it would be very nice to keep the momentum going in the championship. It will be a big ask but as always we will do the best we can and I am sure the team around me will manage things in the best possible way. I have had some flashes at Portimao in the past, so potentially I know we can be very good this weekend. With those thoughts in mind I am looking forward to going to Portimao.”
Loris Baz: “I am feeling really good because we had a strong weekend in Misano last time out. We have two weekends in a row now so it is going to be an exciting time but right now I am now only really looking to Portimao. I love the track and I feel I can go really well there. The bike is going very well but we just need to improve a little bit, with some little things, to make another little step and be the most competitive we possibly can. The competition is close this year and there are four or five riders that could win a race but at some tracks more riders than just those four or five are also very strong. Right now I am really looking forward to getting back on track at Portimao.”
David Salom: “Portimao is a very difficult track because it has a lot of ups and downs, hard braking areas, and that may make it difficult for me as I am still carrying an old hand injury. But I think for the Kawasaki it will be a very good track because now we have made improvements to our suspension set-up and the bike is fast. For sure I have some tough competition and I am sure we will fight like at most other races! I know Portimao very well because I have ridden there maybe five years or more so I understand the layout.”
Pata Honda Preview
The Pata Honda team is heading to Portugal this weekend (4-6 July) for round eight of the 2014 World Superbike Championship at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve near Portimao.
The team’s riders, Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam, together with their respective crews, are fully focused on improving recent results and targeting podium finishes once again with their Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP machines.
Rea has been on the Portimao podium no fewer than seven times in his six-year World Superbike career, the most recent being a third place in race two last season. He currently sits fourth in the SBK points standings but the 27-year-old from Northern Ireland is just 13 points from second position, and he is determined to re-discover the levels of performance that have taken him and his CBR to three wins in 2014.
His Pata Honda team-mate Leon Haslam has been making steady progress in recent rounds and has found a way forward to begin consistently challenging nearer the front of the field. The 31-year-old British rider will be testing a new engine specification at Portimao this weekend and is eager to return to the Portimao podium, which marked his debut rostrum finish with Honda’s CBR in World Superbikes.
The Autodromo Internacional Algarve is set in rolling hills 84km to the west of Faro in Portugal and has been part of the World Superbike calendar since its completion six years ago. The undulating 4.592km circuit is renowned as a roller-coaster ride with a number of blind crests and dramatic changes in elevation.
Jonathan Rea – “I’m really excited to be heading to a circuit where I really enjoy riding the CBR and, without doubt, Portimao is one of the most exhilarating tracks on the World Superbike calendar. It’s close by one of the main tourist areas in the Algarve and I have a lot of friends coming out for the weekend, so I’m even more excited about this round. The last few races have thrown up a few problems in managing the electronics on the bike, especially engine braking, so Portimao gives us an opportunity to go back to basics. We had a good five-day test there earlier in the year when the team extended our stay there because of early rain. We got a good base setting then so I’m hoping that will be a solid starting point for the weekend. I need to be really strong in the next couple of races because they take us to about two-thirds distance on the season and it’s important to carry some confidence and momentum into the final part of the year.”
Leon Haslam – “I didn’t race at Portimao last year because of my broken leg, but I really like the circuit and I’ve had some good races there over the years. I’ve been on the podium a few times and it’s a special place for me because I got my first SBK podium with Honda there in 2008. It’s fun to ride and it’s quite a physical circuit but my shoulder is feeling a little better after Misano. I’ve had some good physio down at the English Institute of Sport, which I’m hoping will see me through the next three races at Portimao, Laguna Seca and then Suzuka for the Eight-Hour, which are all quite physical tracks. We tested at Portimao earlier this year when it was wet a lot of the time, but we know the CBR goes well there and I’m quite excited to be trying a different engine this weekend.”
Pieter Breddels – technical co-ordinator – “Leon is happier with the bike now and Portimao is one of his favourite tracks. We will be trying a different engine specification with him this weekend which is designed to improve driveability for the particular characteristics of the Portimao circuit. We’re looking forward to seeing how that goes and to see if we can keep making positive steps like we have been recently. Jonathan’s results from the last three rounds have not been what we have been working for since the euphoria of his double at Imola. However, we had a good meeting at Misano and I believe we have identified the area where we need to focus and give him a bike on which he can be more competitive. We need to get some positives from this weekend because we know that the Portimao circuit has been good for both Jonathan and the CBR in the past.”