A field of 22 riders from seven different countries took to the track onboard their Yamaha R3 machines to fight it out for pole position in the R3 SuperFinale at Portimao, a support act to the penultimate round of the World Superbike Championship.
In the Superpole session it was all to play for behind 15-year-old Spaniard Gonzalo Sanchez, who proved to have more pace than the chasing pack and went on to take pole. But the front row remained open until the last seconds of Superpole as the youngsters increased their confidence and upped their pace.
Italy’s Guido Fina stormed into second while Australia’s Cameron Swain, fresh from a wildcard appearance in the R3 bLU cRU European Championship in France, took third.
Swain’s Aussie countryman Marcus Hamod flew in just prior to the event, adjusted quickly to the new track, the new bike, and his support team to qualify an encouraging sixth.
Swain had been making big improvements every time on the track and his goal of standing on the podium before he returns home has been realised with some great riding in Portimão. The youngster went on to score an overall podium in the Portimao rYamaha bLU cRU R3 Cup on the back of 7-3 results, with an inspired ride through the pack in the final bout.
“I wasn’t happy with race one and the seventh-place finish, but we made some changes and things were much better for the second race. I was aiming for a race win and felt I had some good passing opportunities that I was going to save for the final couple of laps, but the race was red flagged and declared with me in third. I have had a great time here and can’t thank everyone enough who has helped me get here and compete at these events.”
After qualifying sixth, Hamod fell in the first race after an issue with his quick-shifter. Not to be discouraged, he composed himself and rebounded well in race two to take a fifth place and finish the round on a positive note.
“I’m super happy with how the weekend panned out. Thank you to everyone at Yamaha in Australia and Europe for giving me this opportunity as well as my support crew for all the hard work to make it happen. I can’t wait to get home now and get into the final two rounds of the ASBK but love the chance to come back here and improve on this weekend.”
The Top 3 in the final standings of the R3 SuperFinale were Sanchez, Mario Salles (Brazil) and Swain.
Sanchez will now be given a fully supported ride in next year’s R3 bLUcRU European Championship series, which runs alongside selected rounds of the FIM Superbike World Championship. A second competitor will also be offered support from Yamaha for 2024, and this rider will be announced in due course following a meeting of the Yamaha Racing Committee.
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