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Mar 22, 2010

Previews Of This Weekend's World Superbike, Supersport Event At Portimao

Miguel Praia (117).
"The race of my life" - Miguel Praia

PARKALGAR HONDA Portuguese racer Miguel Praia is looking for the "race of his life" to get a top five finish at this weekend's second round of the World Supersport Championship at his and the team's home circuit at Portimao in Portugal.

World Championship leader and first round winner Eugene Laverty will be looking to repeat his 2009 victory on home soil for Parkalgar Honda and give the Portuguese fans plenty to cheer. There are practice and qualifying sessions on Friday and Saturday before the race at 1330 GMT on Sunday, March 28th, at the state-of-the-art world track of the year near Portimao. For up-to-date information during the race weekend visit

Miguel: "Racing at home at Parkalgar is a big responsibility as I am the only Portuguese rider in the World Championship; but this is my third time racing here and I am experienced with this. I am also more relaxed after showing in a normal race situation in Australia I can compete for and finish in the top 10, equalling my best result ever. I want to make a better race and fight for a similar performance as our test here when I finished fourth in January. I need to make baby steps as I have never finished in the top five before. It is a realistic target because I have a fantastic bike and team but I will need the race of my life to achieve it. I have finished on the podium in second and third in off-road bicycle races the last two weekends and it would be fantastic if I could get the same result on my Parkalgar Honda - one thing is for sure, I am fit enough and ready for the challenge. I look forward to meeting my fans this weekend, please come and support me and Eugene at Portimao!"

Eugene: "We know from last year's race and the January test - as well as our performance at Phillip Island - that we are in good shape but will continue to work on set-up; you never get bored at Portimao, it is that sort of a circuit and there is always something to improve. I think Joan and Kenan will be strong and while they didn't focus on race set-up in Australia, the tyre life problems there are fairly unique and in Portugal if you can do one fast lap you can probably do them for the whole race. It is great to get the support of the local fans in Portugal; they really get behind the whole team. I have been training hard in the nice spring weather and I am refreshed and ready for the race."

Simon Buckmaster, Parkalgar Honda Team Manager: "We are going home to Parkalgar as the favourites to win the race after victory in the opening round and in the last round at Portimao last year. But it certainly won't be easy as Joan Lascorz is strong and last year Kenan Sofuoglu showed he could ride a quick race and kept the pressure on behind Eugene. Miguel comes here after equalling his best ever result but he didn't ride his best ever race to do so. If he can ride to his potential then he can score a good result on home soil and we'll be doing all we can to support him."

More, from a press release issued by Althea Racing:

The second round of the HANNspree Superbike World Championship, will take place over the weekend of March 26/27/28 at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portimao, Portugal. Extending over almost 300 hectares, the circuit is the biggest investment ever to be implemented in the Algarve and is located in Escapadinho in the foothills of the coastal town. It lies about one hour's drive away from Faro airport and an additional exit road from the A22 motorway is also being built to facilitate access. The track used for the Superbike races will measure 4.592 km. in length. The mastermind behind the initiative is local entrepreneur and motorsport fanatic Paulo Pinheiro, for whom it represents a dream come true after seven years of commitment to the project.

Carlos Checa : "The results I reached during last January's test session here in Portimao were not satisfactory because we did not use the right tires. In Phillip Island we did a really great job, both during practices and the races, and after my victory the team's spirit soared and we are very positive about the future. I particularly like the Portuguese circuit because of its ups and downs. The length of the main straight could be unfavourable for our bikes, but the mixed part of the track could be favourable. We are confident that we can find a good set-up for the race weekend and we'll work to increase our bike's top speed which is very important on this circuit".

Shane Byrne : "After my disastrous weekend in Australia the second round couldn't come fast enough for me. If I had one wish after Australia, it would've been that round two came the following weekend. I really look forward to the rest of the championship and I hope to give the team many more races like Carlos's fantastic race in Australia."

More, from a press release issued by Xerox Ducati:


Portimao (Portugal), Monday 22nd March 2010: In a change to the World Superbike calendar the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is this year hosting the first European round of the championship. For the last two years the final event of the international race series took place on the Portuguese track, and in truly spectacular style on both occasions, with Troy Bayliss' spectacular double win for Ducati Xerox in 2008 followed by the showdown between Ducati Xerox rider Haga and Yamaha's Spies in 2009. While in 2008 Bayliss has already been crowned World Champion at the penultimate race event, in 2009 the rider's title went to the wire with Noriyuki ten points ahead of American Spies as the final race weekend opened. Unfortunately a crash for the Japanese rider in Race 1 put him at a disadvantage and even a second place finish subsequently achieved in Race 2 was not enough for him to take the title, which went to Spies by just six points. Michel won the second race ahead of his team-mate, also taking the lap record in the process.

Turning the page to the 2010 season, the action got underway three weeks ago at Phillip Island, and Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, two of the favourites for this year's title, made a strong start by taking three podium finishes (Michel, 2nd and 3rd, Noriyuki 3rd). Michel missed out on a race win by the closest ever margin, crossing the line just 0.004 of a second behind Haslam on the Suzuki, and Nori, victim of a crash in Sunday morning's warm-up, put up a good fight in the face of injury to take 27 points over the two races.

Having already tested at Portimao earlier this year in wet and wintry conditions, the Ducati Xerox squad now returns to the Algarve once more, for what will hopefully prove to be a winning race weekend for both championship contenders Noriyuki and Michel. This is only the third year of Superbike competition at the Autódromo Internacional, the construction of the circuit having been completed during 2008.

Michel Fabrizio (2nd in championship, 36 points)

Michel likes the Portuguese circuit and demonstrated this with a win in Race 2 last season.

"We made a good start to the championship a few weeks ago at Phillip Island and took some good points. It's a pity I lost out on the Race 1 win but the racing was great fun; it sure was a close finish! I'm in second position in the standings which isn't bad and now we move to Portimao, another track that I really enjoy racing, and I'll be looking for race wins; I need to consolidate the strong start that we've made because this year will inevitably a very long and hard-fought competition."

Fabrizio's Superbike form at Portimao:
2009: Race 1 5th, Race 2 - winner
2008: Race 1 DNF, Race 2 2nd

Noriyuki Haga (4th in championship, 27 points)

Unlike Michel, Nori does not list Portimao among his favourite tracks; he lost the championship to Spies here last season.

"I had a few problems during the races at Phillip Island as I had crashed that morning in warm-up, hurting my right arm and lower back. The injuries made it hard for me to keep pace with Michel, Checa and Haslam and so I was fairly happy with my results and the points gained. Now I'm feeling a lot better and am looking ahead to the coming weekend I haven't had the best luck at the track over the last two years, so it's not my favourite but we hope to score two good results."

Haga's Superbike form at Portimao:
2009: Race 1 DNF, Race 2 2nd
2008: Race 1 DNF, Race 2 14th

Country: Portugal
Name: Autódromo Internacional do Algarve
Circuit length: 4.658 km
Corners left: 6
Corners right: 9
Length of race: 22 laps= 101.024km

Best lap Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 1'43.529 (2009).
Superpole Spies (Yamaha) 1'42.412 (2009).

Race 1 - 1. Spies (Yamaha); 2. Rea (Honda); 3. Biaggi (Aprilia)
Race 2 1. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox); 2. Haga (Ducati Xerox); 3. Rea (Honda)