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. Follow all racing action with the WorldSBK VideoPass.