Reigning world champion ends day one at Portimao on top
Sun shone down on the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the second MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship pre-season test, as riders continue to work on their 2018 pace as the season opener draws ever closer. Despite a little wind, the conditions were perfect for riders to continue to work on their set-up in Portugal. Once again it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) who took the honours of the top spot, continuing with his stunning pre-season form.
Kawasaki Racing Team duo of Rea and Tom Sykes had another typically strong day as their testing regime continued. Becoming well acquainted with the new rules for 2018, the green team don’t seem to have slowed down, as they topped the opening day in Portugal. Despite a small crash from Sykes at turn five around lunchtime, the British rider wasn’t flustered and took to the track to go second fastest.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) had a very strong day around the circuit he secured his first podium at with Yamaha in 2017, as he was challenging up at the top of the timing screens under the Portuguese sunshine. His team-mate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) spent the day challenging in and around the top ten, as the duo are working with the new bike to get the pace up and fighting for 2018.
It was a much stronger day for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati squad, with both Marco Melandri and Chaz Davies sitting around the top five all day, as they continue to set-up their Panigale R’s around the new rules for this season. After a tough two days last week in Jerez, the Ducati riders will be hoping to find some good set-up changes on their final test before heading to Australia. Whilst Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team rider Michael Ruben Rinaldi was lapping in the top 15 as he gets to grips with his new Superbike.
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s new WorldSBK rider Toprak Razgatlioglu was able to shine on only his second test after signing with the team. Sitting in seventh position for the majority of the day, the Turkish rider was able to impress out on track as he makes the step up into the premier class, and with no pressure from his team there is no doubt he will shine.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) returns to one of his favourite circuits, and he certainly put in the laps in Portugal. Working through the issues encountered in 2017, and with a new team, he was able to end in the top ten as he put in a strong day, alongside his team-mate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia). Italian Savadori was close to getting into the top 10, continuing to find a better feeling on his Aprilia.
Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team have been working closely with their new riders, Leon Camier and Jake Gagne as they hope to improve the overall performance of the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. Both riders were sitting around the top ten, and we steadily improving around the long, sweeping Portimao circuit.
Upon his return to WorldSBK, Loris Baz (GULF ALTHEA BMW Racing Team) is getting to grips with the German machine and the Pirelli Tyres, and was putting in an impressive amount of laps today. Ending in the top 15, he put in a strong day and will hope to improve as he continues to visit other circuits.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s new recruit Jordi Torres has been working his way around understanding the Italian machine throughout a series of pre-season tests. The Spanish rider has been getting to grips with the machine and after a hard day of working through set-up today, he ended in the top 20 overall.
TripleM Honda embarked on their first test as an official WorldSBK team, and with PJ Jacobsen at the helm, they were able to get a lot of work in to understand their pace in 2018. Starting off building up the pace, they were able to get a good indication of how the American feels on the Honda, and despite finishing in 26th they will be working hard to improve their pace as the test continues.
Guandalini Racing had a tough day with Ondrej Jezek, as they have a lot more work to do in order to become a top ten finisher this season.
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