Reigning World Champion leads the way at the end of an action-packed day at Portimao
14 WorldSBK and 10 WordSSP riders continued their crucial preparations under sunny skies at Autodromo do Algarve Portimao, which from 27th-28th January host the final European winter test before the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season will kick off in Australia next month.
Day one around the Portuguese race track saw high competition again, as the top ten riders finished all packed within a second. But once again it was reigning World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team) to take the top spot. Continuing to work on the new items he tested in Jerez with all his focus on the first round of the season, Rea put in a stunning lap of 1’42.413 taking the lead ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), that again impressed with his remarkable pre-season pace.
Working on different aspects of their YZF R1 compared to the last test at Jerez, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team were able to confirm the excellent work done until now, as both Alex Lowes and Dutchman Michael van der Mark finished close to the top. Lowes was just 0.231 off Rea’s lap time, while on the other side of the garage van der Mark, who had a small issue in the morning that brought out the first red flag of the day, closed in seventh position just 0.677 s off the top of the timesheets.
The red machines weren´t far of the pace, as Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing -Ducati) finished third just a few tenths of a second behind the Yamaha of Lowes.
For the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati Team the first day at Portimao was a busy one, as they continued to work on all aspects of their all-new Ducati Panigale V4 R. Both Chaz Davies and the Spanish rider didn’t focus on their lap times, but they worked mostly on finding the base setup for the first round of the year. Still struggling with some back pain, Davies closed in tenth position, but will have another day tomorrow to put in more laps on the new Ducati beast.
Continuing to make steady progress, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) had a positive day working alongside his new crew chief and finding a good set-up for his Kawasaki ZX-10RR. The Turkish rider was the fastest rider in the morning and closed the day in fourth position.
BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team had a lot to do today as they were working on different areas including the chassis and different electronics strategies for the new BMW S1000 RR. Following both the same program, Tom Sykes and Markus Reiterberger put in respectively 47 laps and closed the day in fifth and ninth position. Pleased with their overall improvement, the two riders will have a special day two at Portimao tomorrow, as they will be unveiling the 2019 livery of their bikes before hitting to the track.
Resuming from where they left off at Jerez, Leon Haslam and the Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK team continued to work on consistency through race simulation while fine-tuning the bike set-up for Australia. The British rider closed in sixth, 0.625 s off his teammate, and will continue with the same program tomorrow.
Also, new team GRT Yamaha WorldSBK continued their preparation for their first season in WorldSBK around Portimao. The Italian based squad has been following two different testing programs to suit their riders’ needs. Veteran Marco Melandri finished eighth as he worked on improving the YZF R1s performance, while WorldSBK rookie Sandro Cortese, who closed eleventh, continued to adapt to his machine.
Taming the Ducati V4 R, Michael Rinaldi (Barni Racing Team) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) closed respectively in thirteenth and twelfth position. The young Italian rider had a tough day adapting his riding style to the new beast, while the Irishman who had his first shakedown test with the new Ducati bike at Jerez, was now focused on the chassis and finding the right balance.
2019 WorldSBK rookie Alessandro Delbianco (Althea Mie Racing Team) closed in fourteenth position as he spent the first day around Portimao working with different tyres and finding his confidence on board the Honda CBR1000RR S2.
Among the WorldSSP riders, who were also out testing today at the Portugal race venue, Frenchman Jules Cluzel set the fastest lap time in 1’45.694, followed by compatriot Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Racing Team) who is still adapting to the Kawasaki machine. MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse rider Raffaele De Rosa closed with the third fastest lap time.
Portimao Test Day One Unofficial Times:
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team) 1’42.195
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’42.614 +0.419
- Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) 1’42.682 +0.487
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) 1’42.687 +0.492
- Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’42.808 +0.613
- Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing WorldSBK Team) 1’42.820 +0625
- Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) 1’42.872 +0.677
- Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 1’43.033 +0.838
- Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) 1’43.682 +1.487
- Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 1’43.702 +1.502
- Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) 1’43.847 +1.652
- Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) 1’44.200 +2.005
- Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) 1’44.663 +2.468
- Alessandro Delbianco (Althea MIE Racing Team) 1’45.732 +3.537
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