PENULTIMATE ROUND OF THE WORLD SUPERBIKE SEASON, HEADED TO PORTUGAL WITH MAX BIAGGI LEADING IN THE RIDER STANDINGS AND APRILIA AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD MANUFACTURER STANDINGS.
EUGENE LAVERTY ALSO STRONGLY MOTIVATED AFTER HIS DOUBLE PODIUM IN GERMANY.
Portimao, 19 September 2012 The Portimao round, penultimate of the 2012 World Superbike season, represents a key moment of the year for the Aprilia Racing Team and its riders. Max Biaggi, coming off of his victory at the Nurburgring which put him back at the top of the rider standings, returns to a friendly track in Portugal where he has ridden some spectacular races, like the double win in 2010.
As always, the Corsair is motivated and ready for the new challenge. His excellent performance in Germany confirmed the feeling Max has with his RSV4, a sensation which he'll need to confirm again on the ups and downs of the 'Autodromo do Algarve'.
The heated battle for final first place leaves no room for calculations or forecasts the sole objective is a good weekend.
"The races at the Nurburgring have given us more strength explained Max Biaggi as well as first place in the championship. In any case this is not the time to loosen our grip quite the contrary, given how close the standings are. As I said, every race from here to the end will be a match point and every mistake could prove to be fatal. I expect to do well at Portimao. It's a track I like and where I have always had good races, but I'm sure that our rivals will make life difficult for us".
The two second place finishes in Germany are a good starting place for Eugene Laverty, consistently fast and by now perfectly in tune with his Aprilia RSV4. For the Northern Irish rider the last two rounds of the 2012 season could well be his best calling card for next season. The rider standings, where he is currently lying in sixth place, leave room for further improvement.
"Portimao is my favourite track on the calendar as I really enjoy the steep undulations of the circuit. My first experience of the Aprilia RSV4 was at the Portimao circuit last October and I managed to lap very quickly so it's clear that the Aprilia works very well there. My confidence is high following the double podium at the Nurburgring and so I aim to continue that form through to the end of the season. The RSV4 is going from strength to strength which was evident last time out when all three Aprilias made a clean sweep of the podium in race one at Nurburgring. I believe we can do the same again with the Portimao circuit appearing to favour our bike".
More, from a press release issued by Bogdanka PTR Honda:
BOGDANKA PTR HONDA's Sam Lowes will be aiming for a podium finish at the penultimate round of the World Supersport Championship at Portimao in Portugal this weekend as he targets a return to third position in the overall standings.
Mathew Scholtz on the other Bogdanka PTR Honda will be looking for a strong weekend and a point scoring finish on another new circuit having crashed out of the last race at the Nurburgring in Germany.
The Bogdanka Honda PTR Team will be joined by the up and coming Polish youngster, Adrian Pasek. Bogdanka's full time rider in the European Junior Cup support series will be looking to make a steady debut in the World Supersport Championship when the lights go off on Sunday at 13:30 local time, that's 14:30 CET.
Sam Lowes: "I'm really looking forward to the weekend on a circuit which I love. We're coming off two bad results even though our race pace has been very good, so I'm looking to go and try my very best to fight for the podium in the remaining races and enjoy myself. I know that my Bogdanka PTR Honda team is behind me and giving me all I need to win."
Mathew Scholtz: "After how Russia went, I was feeling confident ahead of Germany but then obviously things didn't work out there. We've changed a few things since then and I've been training harder so I'm looking forward to the last two races. It will be my first time at Portimao, so I'll have to start slowly and get faster. Hopefully then we'll have a similar sort of run like in Russia and I can finish in the top ten. I've watched the videos from the previous years and I know that Portimao is one of the hardest and most technical tracks on the calendar with a lot of blind corners and elevation changes, so I'm definitely looking forward to it."
Adrian Pasek: "I'm feeling good ahead of my World Supersport debut. It's a great opportunity for me as well as an important lesson. I'm really looking forward to finding out how I can do against such fast riders and manage the sessions and the race, which are a lot longer than in the European Junior Cup. It will be an important build up for 2013, but I'm not putting my goals in any numbers. Portimao is the most difficult track I've ever raced on. You need a lot of laps and time to learn it with all the blind corners. I've already tried the Bogdanka Honda PTR bike at Imola earlier in the year and was really impressed with the power and electronics, but I'm not putting any pressure on myself. It will all be about learning this weekend."
Simon Buckmaster, Bogdanka PTR Honda Team Manager: "As we know Sam has had winning pace all year. Unfortunately a jump start at Moscow and crash at Nurburgring has left him fourth in the Championship. He is only three points behind Foret in third and looking for two good podiums to finish in the top three in the Championship, where a rider of his speed and ability deserves to be. Mathew came together with another rider last time so we are looking for him to have a good points scoring finish in Portugal."
More, from a press release issued by Honda:
FIM SUPERBIKE / SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 13 SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 23 PORTIMAO, PORTUGAL
REA AIMING FOR MORE SUCCESS AT A FAVOURED VENUE
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team) returns
to action in the FIM Superbike World Championship
this weekend after his first taste of competitive
MotoGP action last weekend. He raced for the
Repsol Honda team as a replacement for injured
regular Casey Stoner at the Misano Circuit Marco
Simoncelli, finishing in eighth place.
It is back to his regular duties for Honda in the
Superbike series this weekend and Jonathan once
more takes on the intense challenge of the
Autodromo do Algarve, in the hills behind one of
Europe's favourite holiday destinations.
The circuit near Portimao packs in a feast of
different corners styles and elevation changes
along its 4.592km length, making it one of the
most rewarding riding experiences for any
competitor on the championship trail. It is a
special place for Rea, who enjoyed his first ever
SBK weekend there in 2008, before embarking on
his first full SBK season on 2009. Since starting
his debut season he has scored five podium places
from six races at the Portuguese track.
Rea, with ten career race wins to his name, has
plenty of motivation to go for his first race
victory in the Algarve, as he lost some points in
the previous round at Germany. He is fifth in the
championship rankings now, on 225.5 points and
with four podiums, including two race wins, to his credit in 2012 so far.
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team) will
face yet another circuit he has no prior
knowledge of in his rookie season when he gets to
Portimao. His aim as always is to learn the
circuit and arrive at a final bike set-up, which
will let him qualify inside the top 16. This then
allows him to participate in superpole where he
can try to improve his grid position once again.
Hiroshi has arrived in the SBK championship
during one of the most competitive seasons ever
and now sits 18th in the rankings, on 51.5 points.
PENULTIMATE ROUND FOR HONDA WSS RIDERS
With two rounds remaining in the 2012 FIM
Supersport World Championship Jules Cluzel (PTR
Honda) is the only rider who can now prevent
long-time series leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki)
from winning the title. After the Honda rider
placed second in the previous round in Germany
Cluzel now sits 38 points behind Sofuoglu with 50
points available for any rider who wins the final two races.
Cluzel has been a strong force throughout his
rookie season and in heading to Portugal the
former 250GP and Moto2 rider will meet another
new circuit he has never seen before. He feels,
however, that he may well have a little help in
that area at this round, as until very recently
his PTR team was a partner of the Portuguese
circuit. Because of this the team as a whole has
more existing set-up data from Portimao than any other track on the calendar.
Cluzel has won two races this year, the same
number as his fellow Honda rider Sam Lowes
(Bogdanka PTR Honda). Lowes has dropped out of
contention for the championship itself after
scoring 14th place in the previous round, and he
is now fourth in the points table with only the
Portimao and Magny-Cours rounds remaining.
Lowes sits four points from Fabien Foret
(Kawasaki) and 19 points ahead of fifth place
rider Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products).
Broc has made three trips to the podium in 2012
so far and is going all out to finish his season
on a high, starting at a Portimao circuit that he rates very highly.
A return to front-running form for Ronan Quarmby
(PTR Honda) is on the cards this weekend as the
South African rider hopes for another podium
success before the end of the year, to add to his
third place at Imola early in the year.
Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda) kept hold
of tenth position despite a DNF in the previous
round. Having just missed a podium finish not
once but twice this year, Tamburini is keen to
round off his season with two more strong
finishes to keep himself in the final top ten ranking.
Former 125GP World Champion Gabor Talmacsi
(PRORACE Honda) joined the WSS fray at the
mid-season point and in a very short space of
time has learned how to maximise the potential of
his CBR600RR. Up to 13th place already in the
standings, he has a season best top six finish to
his credit, which he gained at the previous round in Germany.
Imre Toth (Racing Team Toth Honda) and Balazs
Nemeth (Racing Team Toth Honda) are hoping to put
their run of no scores behind them at this round.
Toth is 19th and Nemeth 23rd in the rankings,
with Toth taking the best finish inside the team
so far, fourth place at Monza in May.
In his rookie season Mathew Scholtz (Bogdanka PTR
Honda) is now 24th in the rankings, Valentin
Debise (SMS Honda) is 26th. Martin Jessop (Riders
PTR Honda) has scored a lone point in 2012, but
hopes to move on from that total over the final
two rounds and races of the season.
After Portimao the final round of the year takes
place in France, at the Magny-Cours Circuit, on Sunday October 7.
HONDA RIDER COMMENTS
Jonathan Rea (Honda World Superbike Team):
"I'm really looking forward to this weekend
because I love riding at Portimao it's a very
challenging circuit from a rider's point of view.
It's also where I had my first World Superbike
race so it holds some special memories for me. We
made some positive steps with the Fireblade at
NÃ¼rburgring, but there's still lots more to do,
especially with the electronics, working on
acceleration on the side of the tyre to improve
corner exit. We also need to work on the engine
characteristics to smooth out the power delivery,
so there's a bit to do. It certainly won't be
easy, but I think we can approach the weekend
with some confidence in our challenge because the
bike has gone well at Portimao in the past and I
have a pretty good connection with the circuit."
Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda World Superbike Team):
"I have never been to Portimao before so I am
looking forward to seeing the track. I have
watched some videos of other races and it looks
very interesting, especially the first and last
corners. There are also many up and down sections
and my team have told me that there are some
blind corners as well. I will do many laps on the
scooter when I arrive in Portugal, but this is
nothing compared to my race bike. We will start
with the same base setting that we have used in
the last few races and probably not make many
changes until I understand the racetrack a bit
better. It looks like a difficult track to learn
but I am looking forward to riding at Portimao this weekend."
Jules Cluzel (PTR Honda):
"I will be ready for Portimao, but it is another
new track for me. I heard it is a good track and
I like to learn new circuits. I need something
extra to be World champion because if Kenan
finishes well he will be the champion, no matter
what else happens. I will try to finish the best
I can. I think it is not easy when you learn new
circuits, but I hope that my team's previous
experience there will help me, because most of my
rivals will know the track very well. But in
Germany that was the same situation and I was
second behind Kenan there. I was able to win the
last race, but I made two mistakes in the final
laps. I just need a chance at this round."
Sam Lowes (Bogdanka PTR Honda):
"I am really looking forward to Portimao because
it is a track that I particularly like riding at.
My last two races in the championship have not
gone to plan, but I am feeling good for this
weekend. I can just enjoy riding my bike and
dig-in to the finish. There are two races left
and I will do everything I can to win them. "
Broc Parkes (Ten Kate Racing Products Honda):
"I hope for a good one in Portimao, We did not
really have the pace at the last race, but
normally it is a good track for me. I just want
to try and finish the last two races very
strongly. Portimao is quite fast in places so you
still need some real power from the engine and
also a good set-up, and if you can get that all
working well you can be quick here. It is an
awesome track to ride, one of the best in the
world, because it is so different. The layout
there is unique and a lot of fun."
Ronan Quarmby (PTR Honda):
"I think I am just going to Portimao, put to my
head down and make sure I get good points on the
weekend. The races in Germany and Russia were a
disappointment so even though I always train
hard, I have put an extra little bit into my
preparation to make sure I am really ready. I do
like the circuit in Portugal; it's an awesome
track. The up and down sections are good, but my
favourite part is the long last corner. You can
get the bike a little sideways, but still feel in
control there. In the race last year I think I
was fastest in the last sector. PTR is a quality
team and the guys work really well so I am
looking forward to the final two rounds."
Roberto Tamburini (Team Lorini Honda):
"I think we can make a good race. I had a problem
and crashed at the Nurburgring last time out, but
I think we can still improve the bike a little to
be able to stay with the best riders in
supersport. I am in tenth position in the
championship and with two good races at Portimao
and Magny Cours we can remain in the top ten."
Gabor Talmacsi (PRORACE Honda):
"I am keen to get to Portimao because it is a new
generation of race track, so I have extra
motivation to learn it. Every race we have been
going better and better so if we can replicate
this kind of result again I will be happy. I do
not know so much about the track, but I have been
playing it on the computer game and watching
videos of the previous superbike and supersport
races. I will go early and do a lot of laps on
the bicycle and running to see how it is. The
first day will be difficult of course, like at
the NÃ¼rburgring, but I think on the second day we
will find the set-up and I will know the track better."
More, from a press release issued by PTR Honda:
PTR HONDA'S Jules Cluzel has never visited the Parkalgar track near Portimao but is ready to learn fast when the 12th and penultimate round of the World Supersport Championship takes place this Sunday, September 23rd.
Jules is the only rider who can stop Kenan Sofuoglu from winning the 2012 Championship as he is 38-points behind with a maximum of 50 remaining to be won. He is not focusing on the title race but hopes to do as well in the race as possible and challenge at the front. Sharing a similar approach is Ronan Quarmby on his PTR Honda, he is looking for two good finishes to end the season on a high and challenge for sixth in the title race.
Riders PTR Honda's Martin Jessopp is changing his approach to riding and will be pushing much harder from the first session to see if he can get into the points where he belongs. The race starts at 1330 GMT on Sunday, September 23rd, with practice and qualifying sessions on the Friday and Saturday.
Jules: "This will be my first time to Portimao and I have the same plan as the last round at the Nurburgring - I want to learn really fast and try to do my best in the race. I cannot find the circuit in video games but think I will enjoy the track, it is sweeping and fast and I like that."
Ronan: "The team is preparing my bike in the best possible way as always. I will work with my PTR crew, trust my Crew Chief Jamie and want to get a good set up for the race. I need good points to get up to sixth in the Championship as that is within reach."
Martin: "I am looking forward to Portimao. I went to watch the last round of WSB a few years ago and remember it being awesome when I walked round it and I can't wait to ride. Looking from the outside it is one of the tracks I should enjoy the most as it is like a British track but wider and faster. It will not be the easiest to learn. I need a good first session and will have a different approach, much more like the other guys, I will push a bit harder all weekend."
Simon Buckmaster, PTR Honda Team Manager: "Jules goes into the last two rounds with a hard job to win the title. He will go out to try and win the last two races. I'm sure he will be in contention even though he has never been to Portimao - as we saw at the Nurburgring his lack of track knowledge will not hinder him. Ronan has struggled at the last two rounds but he is eighth and within touching distance of sixth in the Championship. He's improved immensely this year and we are looking for two good races to finish the season and finish as high up the standings as possible. There are only two rounds to go for Martin and he will be trying hard; it would be nice for him to show his early season potential and finish on a high."
More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki News Service:
FIXI Crescent Suzuki is on the Algarve coast in Portugal for the 13th and penultimate round of the 2012 eni FIM Superbike World Championship to be held this weekend at the Portimao circuit.
Following his superb result in the last round at Nurburgring, Leon Camier is planning on continuing in the same vein of form at a circuit that should suit his riding style. His podium in Germany was a just reward for Camier and the whole crew and has given a huge boost to the team as it enters the final stages of the season.
John Hopkins will be racing at a track that is completely new to him this weekend, so will need to be up-to-speed quickly at a circuit that is notoriously difficult for bike set-up. The Anglo-American is not deterred by that though, as he too aims to end the season strongly and secure his best results of the year in the forthcoming two events on his Yoshimura-powered Suzuki GSX-R.
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is an ultra modern track that was completed in 2008 and opened officially when it hosted the finale of the World Superbike Championship the same year and since then the series has visited 4,592m Portimao circuit every year. The layout is situated in hilly landscape and consequently features many undulating sections. A number of changes in direction and gradients, crests, some complex sections, a lot of long corners and a winding infield make the circuit a real challenge for riders and teams alike. This weekend looks like being very exciting as the World Championship title battle enters into its final stages, with three riders still in with a chance of taking the title. Max Biaggi, Marco Melandri and Briton Tom Sykes are all still in with a shot of winning this title and with two rounds and four races remaining, it all looks like a thrilling climax is on the cards.
The penultimate World Superbike weekend of the season will get underway on Friday with the first practice and qualifying sessions. Saturday morning will have a second qualifying session to reduce the field to just 16-riders, who will then progress to that afternoon's Superpole. Sunday's 22-lap races will start at 12.00hrs local time (12.00hrs BST) and 15.30hrs local time (15.30hrs BST).
"I've always liked the Portimao circuit and my race pace has been pretty good there, even if my qualification has not! It's pretty hard to get a good bike set-up there because of all the changes of direction and elevation but, once you know where you are going, you can put in good laps. I'm not sure how the FIXI Crescent Suzuki is going to go round there, because the track is very different to the Nurburgring, but I'm sure the boys and I will sort the bike out as best we can. There have been a lot of congratulations after Nurburgring and it's been great for the team, because it's been a tough season, but a result like that makes up for the hard times before. Now, we're hoping we'll keep progressing and end the season on the up."
"I've not raced at Portimao, so the first thing I have to do is learn the circuit. From what I've heard, the track is quite a tough one for bike set-up, but I learn tracks pretty quickly, so I'm not worried about that aspect. Portimao certainly seems to have a bit of everything and I think it's a track I'm going to enjoy once I get the hang of it. Once I feel confident about pushing the FIXI Crescent Suzuki hard, I'll be going all-out for my best results of the year."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"All of us at FIXI Crescent Suzuki were so happy after the podium at the Nurburgring and we are determined to continue the progress and chase good results in the last two rounds of the championship. Portimao is a very different track to Nurburgring, but our aim - as usual - is to do well in qualifying and get both Leon and John safely into Superpole. After that we'll see what happens. I'm sure that Leon and John are fully motivated about his coming weekend and looking forward to getting some more good results."