For the first time in 27 years, the Motul FIM Superbike World Championship took to the track at the Circuito Estoril with two Free Practice sessions and it was Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) who topped the combined time-sheets as he used his experienced at the Portuguese circuit to his advantage in the early stages of the Pirelli Estoril Round.
Scott Redding – P1
“I am satisfied with what we have done today. In the afternoon we tried some solutions but they didn’t work as we hoped so we went back to the morning set up. The new circuit? It’s a normal situation this season. I could say that this weekend the other riders will also try this kind of experience that has been a constant for me throughout most of the season. My target for tomorrow? A good qualifying will be crucial for all races“.
Redding had set the pace in the morning Free Practice 1 session and backed that up with the fastest time in Free Practice 2, posting a 1’36.886s in the last few seconds of the second session to pip Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA Yamaha ) to top spot; the Turkish rider finishing the day in second place. Frenchman Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) showed strong pace throughout the day and finished in third place despite a crash in Free Practice 2.
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu – P2
“Today was my birthday but also I am happy with how it has gone at this new track. I have always liked the look of the circuit, but I’ve never ridden it! I like it because of the very hard braking layout and the flowing corners. Today we finished in second position, and I am really pleased to start this last race weekend of 2020 like this because I want to finish the season well – and I also need to score a podium again! We will keep working on some small areas to improve the feeling and, with it, the lap time. It feels good now, but we need to find a little bit extra for better turning and grip to improve the final result.”
Baz went into Turn 1 as he tried to find the limit but lost the front end of his bike and was unable to bring the bike back to the garage himself after damaging a water hose on his Yamaha. The Ten Kate Racing team were able to repair his bike and the French rider returned to the track with around 10 minutes left in the session.
Five-time World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) put in the fourth best time of the day as he looks to secure both his 100th win and six title across the Estoril Round weekend, edging out team-mate Alex Lowes by just a tenth of a second. American star Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) was sixth fastest despite an off in the second session; the third Yamaha rider in the top six of the combined times.
Jonathan Rea – P4
“The track is really nice; a big challenge because there are a lot of technical aspects. It is enjoyable and fun to ride. It is also quite ‘busy’ to ride on a more than 200 horsepower WorldSBK bike. It is day one and honestly I am still leaning the way around. Even in the last laps I felt I was doing different things on the bike and trying to understand the best way to attack it. We understood two rear tyre options and the track layout a little bit and we now need to improve the bike set-up for Saturday, especially during trail braking. My rhythm with used tyres is very strong so if I can find just a little bit more performance I can fight for the podium, and possibly even better. That is the target. I will try to forget about the championship as I have three chances to wrap that up but we are in a good position because in FP2 I felt a lot better than in FP1. Even on old tyres I set my fastest lap. All good for the opening day.”
Alex Lowes – P5
“I like the layout here. It is quite a small track, the sections are all inside each other and the surface is quite good. I heard some reports that the track was quite bumpy, and there are corners with some bumps, but honestly it is not bad. To go to a new track is always good fun. It is a little bit different, and I am not sure which other circuit I can compare it to. It is a lot tighter and smaller than I expected but I enjoyed riding the track for the first time. I feel OK on the bike but we do not really know how things will turn out yet until we can get in a few more sessions and everything settles down a little bit more. I enjoyed it today.”
Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) finished the day in seventh places, less than a second away from team-mate Redding at the front of the field as he beat wildcard Jonas Folger (Bonovo Action by MGM Racing) by just 0.002s; Folger making his second appearance of the season as a wildcard. He was around a tenth faster than Michael van der Mark (PATA Yamaha) and Leon Haslam (Team HRC), who completed the top ten.
Chaz Davies – P7
“All in all, things didn’t go wrong today. I raced here 15 years ago in the 250cc Championship but it is clear that the conditions with the Superbike are completely different. That’s why in Fp1 I tried to get familiar with the circuit to understand where it will be possible to attack and where it will be necessary to manage the tyres. In the FP2 the situation has improved but we will still have to work on the setup and electronics to take the step forward that we need to be competitive tomorrow“.
Michael van der Mark – P9
“It’s been a difficult day for us, obviously it’s a new track and this morning I had to try out some different gearing and find a good set-up, which isn’t that easy. We’re struggling quite a lot with the balance and the turning. I thought in the afternoon we could make a good step forward, but we are still not where we need it to be. We have quite a lot of work to do for tomorrow, the differences are really small but I feel like we have to make a big step in set-up so we can improve our potential result.”
Leon Haslam – P10
“Things went a better this afternoon I’d say. We have taken some small steps forward with the electronics and worked with a different tyre, the soft solution, which I felt was more effective. We’re not so far away from where we need to be, less than a tenth off through the first sectors in fact, but we’re losing a little time through the final sectors, so we need to analyse that and see what we can do to improve in that area tomorrow.”
Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) finished the day in 11th place as the Spanish rider looks to bounce back from a challenging Magny-Cours weekend; but the Spanish rider crashed in Free Practice 2 at Turn 7.
Alvaro Bautista – P11
“Today has provided us with track references for the CBR. This morning we had some problems with rear grip and having tried different solutions, we improved a little bit but not enough. In the afternoon we took a step forward with the electronics. We also used the SC0 Pirelli tyre for almost the entire second session. It’s not my usual favourite but I didn’t feel bad. For the last run, to make a direct comparison, we went back to the SCX, the tyre I usually feel better with, and I was actually making a good lap but then I fell in the third sector. I think we could have shaved off a few tenths because I felt like I had better contact, especially through the “esses”. Not a bad day anyway, and we will try to use all the information we gathered to further improve tomorrow.”
Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was in 12th place, ahead of Ducati-bound Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) in 13th.
Tom Sykes – P12
“It’s early days. It is my first time at this track and I don’t want to be pushing the boundaries but gather relevant information. I certainly enjoy the track. It is a fantastic layout. I am just getting to know my way around the Estoril circuit and I have to say it’s just such a good and enjoyable place to ride. We’ve had a couple of little experiments today; we’ve tried the combination of the set-up with the tyres, we’ve gathered a lot of information and of the back of this, I have to be quite happy. Looking at the times, it seems at the moment that the V-configuration, the cross-plane cranks have a little bit of an advantage with the circuit layout and what grip it has to offer. So, we will have a good sit-down now and see if we can try and eat into this deficit that we’ve got. For now, it’s just day one and tomorrow, we will try to put the pieces in the jigsaw together.”
Spanish rider Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was 14th as he marks his last weekend with the Kawasaki Puccetti outfit, finishing a tenth ahead of Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance). Italian Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) was 16th, ahead of the returning Matteo Ferrari (Barni Racing Team) in 17th and Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) in 18th.
Leandro Mercado (Motocorsa Racing), Eric Granado (MIE Racing HONDA Team), Sheridan Morais (ORELAC Racing VerdNatura), Takumi Takahashi (MIE Racing HONDA Team) and Loris Cresson (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) rounded out the field; Granado, Morais and Cresson making their first WorldSBK appearance of the season.
WorldSBK Friday Combined Times
M. Van Der Mark
The FIM Supersport World Championship arrived at the Circuito Estoril for the season finale with two practice sessions throughout Friday with Italian rider Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) topping the times in the combined classification by almost two-tenths.
De Rosa had been strong in the morning Free Practice 1 session with third place and built on that throughout the second session as he became one of only two riders to lap the circuit in under 1’41. The Italian’s time of 1’40.745s was enough to beat Estonian rider Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) by half a tenth as WorldSBK-bound Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished the day in third place; with three manufacturers completing the top three as MV Agusta led Yamaha and Kawasaki.
Spanish rider Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) completed a strong day for the Kallio Racing outfit in fourth place, despite a crash in this morning’s session, as both Viñales and Soomer finished inside the top four, with South African Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing) in fifth place and Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) in sixth; Cluzel returning to action for the first time since being injured earlier in the season in a crash at MotorLand Aragon.
Peter Sebestyen (OXXO Yamaha Team Toth) found himself well inside the top ten after a strong showing from the Hungarian rider put him seventh overall, ahead of 2020 WorldSSP Champion and 2021 factory Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) in eighth with Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth; the German rider just one of two who were unable to improve their time in the second practice session.
Czech wildcard Karel Hanika (WRP Wepol Racing) finished the day in 10th place with Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha) in 11th; Perolari crashing at Turn 7 during the second Free Practice session. Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) was in 12th place ahead of lead WorldSSP Challenge rider Kevin Manfredi (Altogoo Racing Team); Manfredi can win the WorldSSP Challenge title this weekend. Can Öncü (Turkish Racing Team) was 14th fastest overall after not improving his time during Free Practice 2 while Danny Webb (WRP Wepol Racing) completed the top 15 after suffering a crash of his own during the second session.
WorldSSP Friday Times
R. De Rosa
A. Ruiz Carranza
22 F. Fuligni
52 P. Hobelsberger
9 G. Hendra Pratama
30 G. Van Straalen
21 V. Falcone
28 V. Da Silva Barros
There was no shortage of action during the two Free Practice sessions for the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship on Friday as Italian rider Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) set the pace at the Championship’s first ever visit to the Circuito Estoril as the season-closing Pirelli Estoril Round got underway with the Riders’ Championship still up for grabs.
Ieraci’s time of 1’51.514 from Free Practice 2 was enough to set the fastest time of the day as the Italian struck first ahead of two races across the Estoril Round, hoping he can end the season strongly. He finished ahead of Mika Perez (Prodina Ircos Team WorldSSP300) in second place as the Spanish rider showed strong pace, finishing ahead of Ukraine’s Nick Kalinin (Battley-RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki) who demonstrated impressive Friday pace.
Marc Garcia (2R Racing) finished the day fourth in the standings as he continued his impressive return to the Championship he won in 2017; finishing just ahead of Alvaro Diaz (Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300) and Tom Booth-Amos (RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki); the top six separated by eight tenths of a second.
Samuel di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) was seventh overall after the two practice sessions on Friday, finishing 0.064s away from Booth-Amos to show just how competitive the Championship is. In eighth was Alejandro Carrion (ACCR Smrz Racing by Blue Garage) as the Spanish rider showed strong pace, ahead of Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Machado Came SBK) and Bahattin Sofuoglu (Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300) who completed the top ten.
Championship leader Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) finished the day in 15th place, over a second away from Ieraci’s time, with Championship leader and Deroue’s teammate Jeffrey Buis in 18th place; Buis leads Deroue by 28 points heading into the two final races of the season and will be looking to move up the order as the weekend progresses.
Luca de Vleeschauwer (RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki) suffered a nasty highside crash as he went through the final corner at the Circuito Estoril with the Belgian unable to take any further part in the session; he was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash, before being declared fit. The Belgian rider finished the day in 33rd place following the crash. Sylvain Markarian (Yamaha MS Racing) and teammate Ton Kawakami both crashed out in the second Free Practice session with both able to get back to their feet following the crash; Markarian finishing the day in 44th place while Kawakami was 25th.
Tom Edwards was the leading Aussie in 20th with countryman Tom Bramich 28th.
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