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Sep 11, 2017

World Superbike: A Preview Of This Coming Weekend's Event In Portugal

The FIM Superbike World Championship continues this coming weekend at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, in Portugal. Photo courtesy of Dorna.

Portimao prepares for the WorldSBK battle

It’s time to return to Portugal

WorldSBK heads to southern Europe and the stunning circuit of Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the 10th round of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, and the return to Portugal is one which is generating a lot of interest within the WorldSBK paddock. Four different riders on the WorldSBK grid have won around the 4.5km circuit, and five have finished on the podium since the series first visited the track back in 2008. Historically a strong circuit for the British riders, as well as Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), we are set for a hotly contested weekend as the riders battle it out for returning honours on the hillside.

Continuing to lead the way in the world championship standings, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) first stood on the Portimao podium in 2009’s Race one, behind Ben Spies. Since then the reigning champion has taken 10 trophies away with him - three of them as the race winner. With just four rounds of the championship remaining, it’s clear Rea is now beginning to keep a cool head and think of the title challenge before him. Putting on a mature performance in the last round at the Lausitzring – a circuit he knew he wouldn’t be strong around – the Northern Irishman will have the title on his mind, so it will be interesting to see how he tackles Portugal.

Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) is another rider with a strong record in Portugal, as the British rider is now becoming a veteran in the series. His performances so far this season have continued to improve and impress, but with the championship points deficit increasing he will have to keep his eye on the ball. With two wins to his name in Portugal, he will be looking to improve on his pace from Germany, and be back up and fighting to search for his third race win of 2017.

Fresh off the back of a double victory in Germany, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is looking to continue his run into the final third of the title fight, with the points deficit now at 105 points from Rea. The British rider has a mixed history around Portimao, never taking a victory in the WorldSBK class but he stood on the WorldSSP top step in 2011, whilst the 30 year old has only secured two podiums in WorldSBK; third in both 2014 and 2015. But we have seen in the past once Davies is able to get into his stride, he is a strong force to be reckoned with so he will be heading to Southern Portugal with a strong battle in mind.

Italian Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) makes his return to a circuit which has brought him glory in the past; taking the wins in 2011’s race two and 2013’s race one on a Yamaha and the second with BMW. These are Melandri’s only two podium finishes around the 4.5km circuit, but following his consistent form so far in 2017 it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the 35 year old celebrating a top three finish this weekend. With seven podium finishes to his name in 2017, and fresh off the back of re-signing with the Italian team for next season, Melandri will be one to watch in the Algarve.

Another rider making a notable return to Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia), named as the round ambassador back in May, there will be a lot of attention on the Irishman. With a strong record around Portimao in both WorldSSP and WorldSBK, as well as a strong winter test, Laverty will no doubt be out to secure his first podium finish since making his return to the series. With 2012’s race two and 2013’s dominant race two wins to his name – both with Aprilia – on top of a dominating WorldSSP victory back in 2009, Laverty’s experience with the 4.5km circuit goes back nine seasons and it’s clear his riding style suits the undulating track.

Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team duo Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark are continuing to search for their first victory of the season, with both riders coming close on some occasions so far in 2017. British rider Lowes has secured two podium finishes, but is struggling to make up the gap to the front runners. Narrowly missing out on a podium finish in Portimao back in 2014, he has finished inside the top ten in all four appearances so far, and will be hoping to make that all important step onto the podium. As for Dutch team-mate van der Mark, he has fond memories of Portugal following his victory back in 2014 on his Honda in the World Supersport class, and similar to his team-mate he has never finished outside of the top nine in the Algarve.

Continuing to impress on his 1000 F4, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) heads back to Portimao which the British rider has a long history around. His strongest weekend came in 2010, where he secured two top five positions. Over the last five rounds held along the Algarve coast the 31 year old has suffered four retirements, but with some other solid results and his impressive performances so far this season, his experience around Portimao will no doubt play to his advantage for Round 10.

Spanish top ten finisher Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) is continuing to search for solid results throughout the 2017 season, as he struggles with his S 1000 RR’s consistency, despite leading the way in Misano. With two top 11 finishes to his name around Portimao back in 2015; Torres will be striving to improve on his best finish of fourth position in 2017. With the 30 year old putting in the hours in the gym over the summer, he is determined to make a strong impression in the final third of the season.

Hoping to be back and fighting fit following the disappointment of his home round, Sefan Bradl (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) is set to make his debut around Portimao this weekend, adding another track for him to learn. However he won’t go into Round 10 totally blind, following a winter test along the Algarve coast back in January. It will be a weekend to regain his confidence onboard his CBR1000RR SP2, as the German rider will hope to be back to full fitness.

WorldSBK action gets underway on Friday 15th September for free practice, before Race one kicks off at 15.00LT on Saturday 14th, followed by Race Two on Sunday at 15.00LT.

Portimao! What a Rollercoaster

WorldSSP: It’s tight at the top

Fight heats up along the Algarve coastline

Only 53 points split the top five in the FIM Supersport World Championship standings heading into Round Nine of the series, and following a dramatic Prosecco DOC German Round the title fight is tighter than ever. With debut wins and red flags, the battle was blown wide open in Germany, and there is now just one point separating Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) at the very top of the table. Returning to the Portuguese circuit of Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, where both Sofuolgu and Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) have secured victories around, it’s all to play for.

Leading the championship standings is Lucas Mahias, who was involved in the big crash last time out with team-mate Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), but was able to rejoin the race and take third position on the podium. Heading into the final four rounds of the championship, the battle is intensifying at the top. Despite not racing with the WorldSBK paddock here, Frenchman Mahias secured victory around the Portimao circuit in 2016’s Endurance World Championship with Yamaha, conquering the 12 hour race. With only one victory to his name so far this season, the 28 year old has played the consistency card so far – Thailand and Misano are the only rounds he has finished off the podium. With the pressure mounting, all eyes will be on Mahias.

Bouncing back from adversity at the start of the season, reigning world champion Kenan Sofuoglu has put in a stunning performance since WorldSSP returned to Europe and is now firmly in that title chase. Lausitzring last time out was the first race he had not won since April, and Sofuoglu is always out on track to win. Revisiting Portimao, a circuit the Turkish rider has taken two victories around; he will be out to make up for the disappointment of Germany. However Sofuoglu hasn’t won around the 4.5km circuit since 2010 when he was riding for Honda, so it could be a big ask for him to be back up to pace.

Third in the championship standings, South African Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) secured his debut pole position and victory in Germany, following the boost of the 2017 YZF R6. Reigniting his championship charge, he now sits only 20 points behind Mahias and with an added boost of confidence from his first win, we could see Morais as a force to be reckoned with in the final four rounds. With a long standing experience around Portimao, the South African stood on the podium in the STK1000 class back in 2011 taking third position, but has also had some tough weekends in Portugal. With eight appearances around the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, Morais has secured five points scoring finishes and suffered two retirements, but despite this the experience will no doubt work in his favour next weekend.

Jules Cluzel suffered heartbreak last time out in Germany, as the Honda rider was hopeful of a podium finish, or even a fight for the victory but the early ending of the race came as a hindrance for the French rider. Yet to secure a victory this season, Cluzel is still only 33 points behind Mahias in the championship standings and with two wins to his name in WorldSSP around Portimao, he could be set for a strong weekend.

WorldSSP action from the stunning Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is set to keep you on the edge of your seats, and don’t miss a minute of the action as the on-track racing kicks off on 15th September.

WorldSSP300: In it to win it

All to play for as the inaugural season heads into the final third

Making its debut at Portimao in Portugal, the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship is preparing to head into the seventh round of the season, and with at least the top five riders in with a chance of taking the title, there is all to play for. With a few riders having raced around the circuit in the EJC over the past, it will be a new experience for some and with the elevation changes and fast nature of the Portuguese circuit there will be plenty of on track action to witness.

Spain’s Mika Perez (WILSport Racedays) took hold of the world championship lead last time out in Germany, as the new category once again provided some stunning racing. In a drag to the line and a photo finish, 17 year old Perez secured third position and as a result, shot to the top of the standings. Leading the way by three points ahead of compatriot Marc Garcia (Halcourier Racing), it will be a tough fight in the closing three rounds and with two races of experience around Portimao, Perez will be out and fighting.

Tackling the Portuguese circuit for the first time will be second in the championship Marc Garcia (Halcourier Racing); the one event rider sits three points off the top of the table but last stood on the top of the podium at Imola. The Yamaha rider has been consistent so far this season, taking three podiums in 2017 and has only finished outside of the top six on one occasion – the opening round of the season at MotorLand Aragon. If Garcia can keep a cool head, the title fight will be able to go down to the wire at Jerez.

Winner at round six in Germany, Alfonso Coppola (SK Racing) will be hoping to use his first victory of the season as a confidence boost, and with experience around the 4.5km circuit he’s in a strong position to put up a strong fight on-board his YZF-R3. Keeping a calm head and holding the lead to the line around Lausitzring, the 19 year old will be hoping to add to his search for the title as the battle intensifies.

Drama hit the WorldSSP300 paddock at the end of the Prosecco DOC German Round, as it was announced Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) was disqualified from the race, meaning the Dutch rider slipped down to fourth in the championship standings but is still only 13 points behind Perez at the top. Despite this set back, the Kawasaki rider has been trying to overcome some issues of late but will always be back to give it his all in the final rounds. With the title still not out of his grasp, Deroue will be fighting to get back onto the top step of the podium, which he last saw in his home round at Assen.

Keep up with the stunning WorldSSP300 racing action, as the fight continues to the Prosecco DOC Portuguese Round, from 15th – 17th September.

STK1000: Championship charge

Could we see a champion crowned in Portugal?

Living up to its reputation of providing stunning racing action throughout the season, the European Superstock 1000 Championship heads into the seventh round and we could be able to see our first world champion crowned in 2017. With some stunning racing action seen so far, the elevation changing nature of the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve will no doubt bring in some overtakes and battles not to be forgotten about in a hurry. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) is in with a change of grasping the title, and it could be an explosive round.

Championship leader Rinaldi heads to Portimao with some fond memories of the 4.5k circuit, and a big task on his shoulders. Securing pole position in the European Superstock 600 series the last time the championship visited the circuit, the Italian narrowly missed out on the victory by 0.065s behind Toprak Razgatlioglu. Rinaldi clearly feels comfortable around the circuit and heading there with a slight points advantage, all he has to do is win the race and his chance of the title depends on mathematics. The 21 year old has taken three victories so far in 2017, and with some strong moves shown on track, it’s clear how determined he is to take his Panigale to victory.

Main championship rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) sits in second position in the standings, and will be hoping to bounce back from a disappointing weekend around Laustitzring. Unable to finish the race, he was still able to keep a hand on his title fighting position but after two hard races – he finished in sixth at Misano – he will be looking to stop Rinaldi being crowned as champion. The last time the Turkish rider raced here, he beat Rinaldi by 0.065s in the European Superstock 600 class, meaning he will have this knowledge behind him heading into the return along the Algarve coast.

French hopeful Florian Marino (Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team) is yet to take that all important first win of the season, but he is only 35 points off Rinaldi in the fight and has been quietly consistent so far. With one bad round around Imola - where he was unable to finish the race - he is yet to finish outside the top five. Making six appearances around Portimao with the WorldSBK paddock, Marino has secured a handful of different results but has been up and fighting for a top five position finish. With a strong pace and a hot battle up at the front, the Frenchman will be one to keep an eye on around the Portuguese circuit.

Don’t miss the stunning STK1000 racing action from Portimao, as the battle continues out on track for the title on top of the podium battle, kicking off from 15th - 17th September.