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Aug 22, 2019

World Superbike Riders Testing August 24-25 At Algarve International Circuit In Portugal

The 2019 FIM Superbike World Championship will resume at the Algarve International Circuit in Portimao, Portugal in September. Photo courtesy of Dorna.

One last push for 2019: WorldSBK action resumes with Portimao Test

Riders and teams prepare for two-day prelude to the season finale

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders are ready to fire up on all cylinders after their well-deserved summer break with a two-day test in Portugal, this Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th at the Algarve International Circuit of Portimao. The 4.5-kilometre rollercoaster will get the ball rolling for the final chunk of the season, firstly with this official test featuring riders from the WorldSBK and WorldSSP series, before racing resumes with all three categories on September 6th at the Portuguese Round.

The season so far has gifted us no small share of twists and turns, most notably the complete overhaul of the championship standings that happened between the months of June and July. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) approached Race 2 at Jerez with a desperate 61-point deficit to Álvaro Bautista ( Racing – Ducati), but flash forward to the conclusion of Laguna Seca’s triple encounter, and suddenly the four-time champion finds himself 81 points ahead.

Consistency has been key to Rea’s latest turnaround, particularly the absence of no-scores on his scorecard (compared to Bautista’s five). And it could hardly come at a better time for the Northern Irishman, as up next he faces a racetrack where he remains undefeated since joining Kawasaki in 2015.

Bautista, on the other hand, is yet to race at Portimao. With two more unfamiliar tracks to follow (Magny-Cours and San Juan) and no more official tests on the horizon, the Spaniard will have this weekend pencilled in as the key date to assess his remaining championship aspirations. If he can prove himself to be a quick learner – yet again – they may be higher than some expect.

Outside of the front two, several riders will be looking to continue pushing the boundaries on their machines after recent performances, most notably the two frontrunners’ teammates. Chaz Davies ( Racing – Ducati) was the standout highlight of the Geico US Round, scoring his first victory in 15 months; something which Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will hope to achieve before the year’s end to fully consolidate his successful return to the paddock.

The man he replaced in KRT, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), has been improving in leaps and bounds in recent times on the S1000 RR, including the German marque’s first pole position and podiums in six years. With the bike still at such an early stage in its development cycle, testing remains vital for both him and Markus Reiterberger… And also Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), who will surely be keeping tabs on his future bike, while he prepares for his final rounds on the Ducati V4 R.

The last few rounds have proven to be trickier than usual for the quintet of Yamahas, with a single podium achieved since Misano. With competition increasing across the board, this test will be key to lifting Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) back to their early-season heights, while Marco Melandri, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) and Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) look to push their Yamaha-supported bikes closer to the factory duo.

The independents will be out in force at Portimao, led by Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), who leads Melandri in the standings by 53 points. The Turkish rider has been on the rise since Imola, netting himself a five-round podium streak and scoring more points than any rider not named Jonathan Rea. Former STK1000 nemesis Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Barni Racing Team) and fellow ZX-10RR riders Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) will also feature in the test, after recent star performances.

Joining the WorldSBK regulars at Portimao will be two-time STK1000 Winner Sylvain Barrier (BRIXX Ducati) and current All Japan Road Race Championship leader Takumi Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team), who will be filling in for Leon Camier for both test days alongside regular Honda rider Ryuichi Kiyonari.

On-track action will be split on both days, with World Supersport teams also getting the opportunity to refine their machines. Only a handful of competitors will be absent for the weekend, as 21 riders from the middle class get ready to tear up the Portuguese tarmac, with last year’s dramatic, epic and sometimes surreal Portimao race still very present on everyone’s minds. Expect plenty action inside the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team garage as both Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo set their sights on the middleweight crown, not to mention last round’s winner, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA).

More, from a press release issued by Kawasaki:

KRT Makes Ready For Official Test Session

After winning the prestigious Suzuka 8 Hours World Endurance Championship race recently the KRT WorldSBK line-up of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam will get their regular season back into top gear during a two-day test at Portimao, on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th August.

As the venue for the next points-scoring round of the championship, between 6th and 8th September, Portimao has already hosted a KRT winter test, attended by both Rea and Haslam in late January.

The 4.952km long Portimao circuit is a favourite of Rea’s. Having won seven races there in the recent past the four-time champion could have no better venue to restart his season.

Rea leads the 2019 WorldSBK championship by 81 points after scoring the 79th and 80th race wins of his career at the previous round in the USA.

For Haslam - signed by KRT for the 2019 season after winning the BSB title for Kawasaki in 2018 - a return to Portimao may be particularly useful as he can compare his current machine setting to his previous data before getting back into the hunt for his much anticipated first race win of 2019.

Getting reacquainted with the official Ninja ZX-10RR and the Pirelli control tyres used in WorldSBK will be a priority for both KRT riders.

Leon and Jonathan will then face off against their rivals both this weekend in testing and when championship points become available again at Portimao, in what will be round ten of the 13-round season.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am really excited to start riding again. I enjoyed some time away from the track but after a couple of weeks I was desperate to ride my WorldSBK Ninja ZX-10RR again. It helped having the Suzuka 8 Hours race in the middle of the break. I did a lot of riding in the build up and the race but it is good to go to Portugal now because I miss my bike and my team. Portimao is a good track for us and the weather should be consistent. That should help us to get some test items confirmed, for both this season and looking to the future. I love the track there and cannot wait to get going!”

Leon Haslam, stated: “I am really looking forward to the Portimao test. Off the back of the Suzuka 8 Hours win it will be nice to get back on the WorldSBK bike with Pirelli tyres. We tested at Portimao at the start of the season and it went quite well. This year, being my first season back after a few years away from WorldSBK, all my podiums have come at circuits we have tested at. Obviously, I would like get three more solid podiums at the Portimao round come September, so this Portuguese test is very important.”

Guim Roda, KRT Team Manager, stated: “This Portimao test is a good opportunity to put everybody in race mode after a long summer break in WorldSBK action. The last part of the championship is a very demanding one, which will prove the focus of everybody right to the end of this season, and their preparations for the next one. Nothing is decided until the chequered flag is shown, and five minutes more have been counted... So, we need to work hard and concentrate to take our best possible test and race results. Portimao itself is a very complex track. It is important to understand the limits of the bike and find the best set up to let the riders fight safety. It has a bumpy layout and in many key points the rider needs to understand how to take the best approach. Any lap at Portimao counts a lot in terms of preparation for the race.”

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) will also be in attendance at Portimao after scoring two of his seven 2019 podium places at the most recent round in the USA, in early July.

Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) enjoyed his best single race finish of the season and his best weekend points haul at Laguna last month. He now looks forward to finding an even more potent race set-up at the Portimao test.

At the recent Laguna Seca round Argentinean star Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) scored points in all three races for the first time in 2019, as he builds pace and confidence.

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