WorldSSP Portimao round-up: Honda’s return, rapid pace, new riders and upgrades…

Thursday, 2 February 2023 10:13 GMT

There were plenty of changes on display in WorldSSP as several riders headed to Portimao for two days of testing

The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve hosted two days of testing on Tuesday and Wednesday, with several riders from the FIM Supersport World Championship paddock heading to Portugal for testing before the season starts in Australia in just a couple of weeks. Lap record pace was smashed at Portimao with Nicolo Bulega (Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team) topping the times ahead of two more Ducati riders, while there were a few riders making their first appearance of the season as well as Honda’s return to WorldSSP action.

HONDA’S RETURN: Mackenzie and Norrodin make debut

Despite not recording official lap times, both Tarran Mackenzie (MIE – MS Racing Honda Team) and teammate Adam Norrodin were positive following their first test with the CBR600RR machine. It marks Honda’s return to the Championship for the first time since 2020 and the team’s line-up includes a British Supersport and Superbike champion as well as an Asia Superbike 1000 podium finisher; hopes are high that Honda will be strong in 2023.

RECORD BREAKING PACE: Bulega and Ducati rapid

Ducati were the only manufacturer not to win a race in 2022 despite being in the mix several times throughout the year. Bulega was the fastest rider on Day 2 as he lapped in 1’42.636s, almost half-a-second clear of Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) in second, going quicker than the existing lap record. Of course, this was something that happened in last year’s winter testing, but Ducati will be looking at the top step of the rostrum in 2023. Bulega led the way ahead of Caricasulo, but new Barni Spark Racing Team recruit Yari Montella was third on his first outing with the Panigale V2. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) was fifth fastest, while Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing), Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing MOVISIO) and Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) were ninth, tenth and 11th respectively.

NEW RECUITS FOR YAMAHA: debuts for Navarro and Manzi on the R6, Debise joins full time

Three Yamaha rider were on track at Portimao, with Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) topping the times for this group. Sixth fastest overall, the Italian posted a 1’43.771s to lead the Yamaha trio. It was his first appearance for Ten Kate Racing following his switch from Dynavolt Triumph, while he was joined by teammate Jorge Navarro who was eighth in class on his first outing with the team and his first action since injury. Between the two Ten Kate Racing riders was Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) who, after sweeping the French championship and impressing in one-off appearances, joins the Championship full time in 2023.

BUSY DAYS FOR ONCU: only Kawasaki rider on track…

Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the only Kawasaki rider at Portimao and, like at Jerez, he was very busy. He had four bikes to test as he and the team look to finalise their 2023 machine. Oncu is still looking for his first win in 2023 but the introduction of a ride by wire system, something that other manufacturers have, is an indication of the progress that could be made by Kawasaki in 2023. Will it be the year where Oncu stands on the top step of the podium?

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