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Jun 6, 2013

Haslam Will Try Again To Come Back From Injury, At Portimao

eni FIM Superbike World Championship: Leon Haslam (91).
Pata Honda heads south to Portugal

The Pata Honda team is heading to Portugal for this weekend’s (7-9 June) sixth-round World Superbike races at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on the southern Portuguese coast.

The challenging and undulating 4.592km circuit, which lies 80km west of Faro, was completed in 2008, just in time for Jonathan Rea’s World Superbike debut and a wildcard appearance for his current Pata Honda team-mate Leon Haslam, and it holds good memories for both riders.

Rea has taken no fewer than five podium finishes at Portimao since that SBK debut and started the 2011 races from pole position. The 26-year-old from Northern Ireland will be keen to get back on the rostrum this weekend after electronics problems dashed his podium hopes last time out at Donington Park in the UK.

Haslam, who celebrated his 30th birthday last Friday, has enjoyed three Portimao podium finishes, but the Portuguese round represents another step towards full fitness for the Derbyshire resident, who broke his left leg at Assen in The Netherlands in April.

Despite battling through the Donington Park qualifying and Superpole sessions, Haslam reluctantly withdrew from the two races, unable to exert enough pressure through the left footpeg of his Pata Honda CBR1000RR to ride it the way he wished.

Jonathan Rea

It took me a while to get over the disappointment of Donington but I’ve been throwing myself into the TT on the Isle of Man. I’ve been playing on trials bikes and watching the races and Honda invited me to the Joey Dunlop memorial dinner last Saturday. I usually look forward to the weather in Portugal, but it’s been awesome on the Isle of Man this week, where 17 degrees feels like 25, but I really love the Portimao circuit and the surrounding area. It’s one of the highlights of the season for me and the undulations throw everything at the rider in a proper test. When the bike’s been good this year, it’s been really good, but unfortunately the electronics have been a bit of a thorn in our side and that was the case again at Donington. I’m looking forward to this weekend though, and hoping that the guys will be on top of everything to allow us to realise some of the bike’s potential.

Leon Haslam

It was tough to miss out on Donington but it was the right call. Even though I made Superpole, I wasn’t able to ride the bike how I wanted in order to do the lap time. To do two 23-lap races would’ve been really tough, but I know that the leg will be better at Portimao. I’ve been getting more physio and trying to build up the quad muscle in my left leg, which has wasted a bit after not doing much for over a month. I came out to Portugal a couple of days early to get some sun and the weather hasn’t disappointed, but Portimao is another physical circuit. Donington is tough because of the heavy braking, but all the ups and downs at Portimao mean you really have to muscle the bike around. With the next round at Imola, I’ve probably got the three most physical circuits on the calendar for my comeback! I enjoy Portimao though, and got my first Superbike podium for Honda as a wildcard back in 2008, so I’m looking forward to see how we get on.

2013 World Superbike championship, round six
Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Portugal – weekend schedule (local times – GMT+1)

Friday 7 June
11.45-12.30 Free practice
15.30-16.15 Qualifying 1

Saturday 8 June
09.45-10.30 Qualifying 2
12.30-13.15 Free practice
15.00-15.14 Superpole 1
15.21-15.33 Superpole 2
15.40-15.50 Superpole 3

Sunday 9 June
09.20-09.35 Warm-up
12.00 Race 1 (22 laps 101.024km)
15.30 Race 2 (22 laps 101.024km)