Pre-season testing continues in Portimao, welcoming special guests
Already the fastest rider in the Jerez test last week, Nicolo Bulega maintained his dominance by securing the top spot on Day 1 of testing at Portimao. BMW’s Toprak Razgatlioglu closely followed, finishing the day just 0.094s behind.
Three Yamaha riders completed today’s top five, with Jonathan Rea claiming third place, 0.148s behind Bulega, followed by Remy Gardner and Andrea Locatelli.
The WorldSBK grid was joined by various MotoGP™ riders on production machines at Portimao including current World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, eight-time Grand Prix World Champion Marc Marquez and also MotoGP™ Legend Valentino Rossi.
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) showcased impressive form on Day 1 at Portimao, maintaining his momentum from the Jerez test last week. The Ducati rider clocked an impressive 1’39.932, securing the top spot. In pursuit, Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was second, just 0.094s behind Bulega. Yamaha riders made their mark, with Jonathan Rea (Pata Yamaha Prometeon) claiming P3, narrowing the gap to Bulega to 0.148s. Teammate Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon) secured P5, while Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) claimed P4.
Reigning WorldSBK Champion Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), finished three-quarters of a second off the pace in eighth. Although an improvement from his position in Jerez (P16), he appears to be grappling with both a lingering neck injury and the challenge of adapting to the ballast imposed on his bike to comply with the new combined weight rules.
Outside the top five, Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team) secured sixth place, focusing on adjustments for ergonomics at the new circuit. Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) finished a solid day in seventh, refining the base bike and experimenting with different swingarms. Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) and Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) secured P9 and P10, respectively, both within one second of Bulega’s time. Just behind them, Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) was back in action after missing Jerez.
Further down the field, Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) faced challenges in 13th, indicating a need for more time to adapt to the new Honda bike. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Motocorsa Racing) and Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) finished 14th and 15th, while Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) grappled with new-seat and swingarm parts, was 16th. Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) focused on bike geometry and setting refinement. Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) stayed competitive, just 1.571s behind Bulega.
In WorldSSP, Adrian Huertas (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) claimed the top spot with a 1’43.806.
Nicolo Bulega | Aruba.it Racing – Ducati
“Very good first day. I was a bit worried before starting this morning, this track is very difficult with this bike. It was difficult to be fast, so I’m really happy about the time today. This track is one of the most difficult this season and I needed to adapt a little bit because it’s really different from Supersport. My pace was good in the end, so I’m happy about today. We focused on braking because there is a lot of hard braking here, and we need to improve in that area. During the day, we were able to improve, and we know in which direction to work tomorrow. We’re already doing a great job, and I want to continue this way.”