The following is from Honda…The Algarve coast is the location for the Portimao circuit, the host venue for the second round of the 2010 Superbike and Supersport World Championships, making it the first round of the year in Europe.Already a popular venue for racing and testing, the relatively new Portimao circuit packs in a huge variety of rider challenges along its 4.592km length, with frequent changes of elevation and blind corner entries. An official winter test session has taken place at Portimao, in late January, meaning that for most riders the track will not be an unknown quantity on their 2010 machines.For Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) Portimao was a happy hunting ground in 2009, having secured a second and third place on his Honda. The recent January tests saw Rea top the Superbike times, while in the Supersport division Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) set the fastest time in his chosen category.Laverty is the Supersport championship leader after his convincing victory at Phillip Island last month and he will be hoping for a repeat of his 2009 WSS victory in Portugal this weekend.Another Supersport championship hopeful for Honda, Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR), is another proven winner at Portimao back in 2008, although he could not test in January because of an ankle injury picked up in winter training. Currently Sofuoglu is third in the championship, on 16 points to Laverty’s 25 and Kawasaki rider Joan Lascorz’s 20.Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) was unable to compete the way he wanted to in Australia, but with more track time at a circuit he has tested at on his Fireblade he feels able to get back to his very best.Portuguese WSS rider Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) is out to have the best race of his career at home this weekend, having scored a top ten last time out in Australia.Vittorio Iannuzzo (Squadra Corse Italia Garvie Image CBR1000RR) is chasing his first points of 2010 in Portugal, after finishing just outside the top 15 twice in Australia. South African rider Sheridan Morais (ECHO CRS Honda CBR1000RR) has been called on to replace regular rider Broc Parkes, as the Aussie continues his recovery from a pre-season training injury.Michele Pirro (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) was disappointed to have had bad luck in Australia but is now completely ready to make his mark in round two. The talented Italian rider was fast in pre-season testing at Portimao and should be well ahead with his machine set-up even before the first practice session starts.Massimo Roccoli (Czech Intermoto Honda CBR600RR) has his focus on a top six finish, while his new team-mate Gino Rea (Czech Intermoto Honda CBR600RR) is particularly keen to race at a circuit he knows well for this first time in his rookie season.After Portimao the next round takes the entire paddock to Valencia in Spain, with race day falling on 11 April.WSB RIDER COMMENTSJonathan Rea: “Australia was tough, but still satisfying. It was important to come away from there with some solid points, so a fourth and a sixth wasn’t too bad. I feel like we’ve blown the dust off the season now and it’s really got started, especially now we’re heading back to Europe. I’ve been working hard away from the track on my fitness and conditioning and I know that the guys have been working equally hard back at the workshop, getting a bike together that we know can work at European tracks. I like Portimao, and we had a good test there in January, so we’ll be looking for podium finishes as that’s what we need to be doing now. I’m not naïve enough to think anything’s going to be easy, but I’m optimistic for the weekend.Max Neukirchner: “I’m now really ready for another race weekend in Portimao – it’s a track that I like very much and we have tested there twice. We found something in the very last hour of the last test that we think will work there, but there are some new electronics to try as well. Of course, I am looking for an improvement on the results in Australia, a very big improvement. But nevertheless I’m happy having being able to do two races. Physically I have never felt that fit after a race weekend like after that race.”Vittorio Iannuzzo: “The Australian race was difficult because we are arrived in Phillip Island without testing many of our parts. But the race was useful to understand the way to increase our competitiveness. After three weeks of work since Australia my team is ready to improve the settings of the electronics, which is our main area of focus now. I am sure that there will be the good chance for a positive race in Portimao because of the effort put in by the technicians.”Sheridan Morais: “I will be riding for the team at Portimao and Valencia because Broc is still recovering from his injury. Broc is getting better at a good pace but the team just wants him to heal properly before he comes back into action. I am looking forward to the weekend in Portugal and being back in SBK racing.”The following is from Suzuki…After their successes in Australia, Team Suzuki Alstare riders Leon Haslam and Sylvain Guintoli are looking forward to getting back on track in Portimao and chasing more podiums. This is the third time that the Autodromo do Algarve is hosting a round of the championship, though this year the race takes place in spring instead of its usual end of season date in autumn.After the opening round in Phillip Island, Leon is leading the standings by nine points, with Sylvain fifth, and both are determined to do well next weekend at the 4.592 kilometre circuit. Leon was in superb form in the preseason tests at the track in January and Sylvain too showed that he had become very comfortable with the 2010 GSX-R1000 Suzuki Alstare bike. Both riders are eager to continue their attack on the championship and also keep Suzuki at the top of the manufacturer’s standings.Leon
Portimao is a fantastic circuit and probably the most demanding one on the calendar. I think all riders like it because it is such a challenge and when you do a good lap there, the feeling is fantastic. From the very first time I jumped onto the Suzuki I knew that the bike could be a contender and so far, I think we have proved that. The whole team has given me tremendous support and we are all now looking forward to another good weekend in Portimao. I went well there in the preseason tests and I will be chasing two more podiums next weekend for sure.Sylvain
I am very pleased with my start to the season and I cannot tell you how happy and comfortable I am with my bike. Of course, every time I go out on it I learn a bit more, but already I am thinking of podiums and that is a good feeling to have. It has been a long break since the first race and I am itching to get back in the saddle and racing again. Portimao is a great track, but very, very challenging. I think it is one of the best racetracks in the series and I will be doing my very best to get on the podium there.The following is from Ducati…In a change to the World Superbike calendar the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is this year hosting the first European round of the championship. For the last two years the final event of the international race series took place on the Portuguese track, and in truly spectacular style on both occasions, with Troy Bayliss’ spectacular double win for Ducati Xerox in 2008 followed by the showdown between Ducati Xerox rider Haga and Yamaha’s Spies in 2009. While in 2008 Bayliss has already been crowned World Champion at the penultimate race event, in 2009 the rider’s title went to the wire with Noriyuki ten points ahead of American Spies as the final race weekend opened. Unfortunately a crash for the Japanese rider in Race 1 put him at a disadvantage and even a second place finish subsequently achieved in Race 2 was not enough for him to take the title, which went to Spies by just six points. Michel won the second race ahead of his team-mate, also taking the lap record in the process.Turning the page to the 2010 season, the action got underway three weeks ago at Phillip Island, and Ducati Xerox riders Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga, two of the favourites for this year’s title, made a strong start by taking three podium finishes (Michel, 2nd and 3rd, Noriyuki 3rd). Michel missed out on a race win by the closest ever margin, crossing the line just 0.004 of a second behind Haslam on the Suzuki, and Nori, victim of a crash in Sunday morning’s warm-up, put up a good fight in the face of injury to take 27 points over the two races.Having already tested at Portimao earlier this year in wet and wintry conditions, the Ducati Xerox squad now returns to the Algarve once more, for what will hopefully prove to be a winning race weekend for both championship contenders Noriyuki and Michel. This is only the third year of Superbike competition at the Autódromo Internacional, the construction of the circuit having been completed during 2008.Michel Fabrizio (2nd in championship, 36 points)
Michel likes the Portuguese circuit and demonstrated this with a win in Race 2 last season.”We made a good start to the championship a few weeks ago at Phillip Island and took some good points. It’s a pity I lost out on the Race 1 win but the racing was great fun; it sure was a close finish! I’m in second position in the standings which isn’t bad and now we move to Portimao, another track that I really enjoy racing, and I’ll be looking for race wins; I need to consolidate the strong start that we’ve made because this year will inevitably a very long and hard-fought competition.”Fabrizio’s Superbike form at Portimao:
2009: Race 1 – 5th, Race 2 – winner
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 2ndNoriyuki Haga (4th in championship, 27 points)
Unlike Michel, Nori does not list Portimao among his favourite tracks; he lost the championship to Spies here last season.”I had a few problems during the races at Phillip Island as I had crashed that morning in warm-up, hurting my right arm and lower back. The injuries made it hard for me to keep pace with Michel, Checa and Haslam and so I was fairly happy with my results and the points gained. Now I’m feeling a lot better and am looking ahead to the coming weekend – I haven’t had the best luck at the track over the last two years, so it’s not my favourite but we hope to score two good results.”Haga’s Superbike form at Portimao:
2009: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 2nd
2008: Race 1 – DNF, Race 2 – 14thThe following is from Kawasaki…The Kawasaki Racing Team head for round two of the 2010 Hannspree World Superbike Championship next weekend in search of a good performance at the Portimao track on the Portuguese Algarve.New signings Chris Vermeulen and Tom Sykes endured mixed fortunes at the opening round in Australia last month but are upbeat about their chances aboard the factory Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R as the series returns to Europe.
However, Australian former MotoGP race winner Vermeulen is facing a race against time to be fit enough to compete following a second race crash at Phillip Island whereas Yorkshireman Sykes is looking for a better return than his 13th place finish in the opening race which yielded just three points from the weekend.The lowly points haul didn’t typically reflect the performances as Vermeulen was challenging with the leading bunch until he crashed out and Sykes qualified well so both riders are looking to improve.Portimao, which hosted the final round of the 2009 series, proved to be a good track for the Paul Bird Motorsport Team last year when riders Broc Parkes and Makoto Tamada posted their best cumulative scores of the season so the omens should bode well for the Penrith-based team.Chris Vermeulen: “My knee is improving each day but at the moment I cannot bend it enough to sit on a bike so I’m hoping by race weekend I will be able to. I did quite a bit of damage to my right knee in the crash at Phillip Island with five tears of ligaments, cartilage and muscle. I still have some swelling in the area, pain and limited movement in my knee joint. I really enjoyed the Portimao circuit which I first rode around in the test earlier this year, it’s exciting to ride with the undulations and blind corners and we were reasonably competitive on the ZX-10R. I think this circuit will suit the bike. I haven’t been able to do any physical exercise since the crash but I do train very hard and know I will have a good base fitness level to move forward. The challenge for Portimao is to be in the top ten but our goal is to be hopefully even higher up.”Tom Sykes: “I’m really looking forward to the race in Portugal. We’ve learnt a lot with the bike since Phillip Island and to be honest I’m really happy with the team set-up and how we are working together. I’m feeling positive about the bike as we have a completely different set-up and made valuable progress since we last tested in Portimao in January which adds to my confidence for a decent result here. I have high expectations for myself and the team and I hope we can deliver a good result for PBM and Kawasaki.”Paul Bird, Team Owner: “We were all disappointed with the results in Australia but it’s typical of the kind of bad luck I’ve been having at the start of this year, I think it’s rubbed off on the team! Portugal should be better for us as the fact remains we have two world class riders and the whole team is working well. We know we can run well within the top ten as Chris proved in Australia and we have a strong package, so hopefully we can set ourselves up for the rest of the season.”The following is from InFront Sports…After the first round of the championship delivered thrills and excitement all the way at Phillip Island last month the eyes of the world will be focused on Portimao this coming weekend, as WSBK reconvenes at another highly rated and very popular venue.The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is a remarkably feat of modern engineering and design, with the undulating track layout and circuit facilities both coming in for high praise. The track was completed in time for the WSBK weekend in 2008, making this the third competitive visit to the 4.592 km circuit for some of the riders and teams. An official test in January of this year saw virtually all Superbike and Supersport World Championship teams set laps in changeable conditions, meaning the one universal wish from a strong 2010 entry is for sunshine on the Algarve coast for the next few days.All TO PLAY FOR AND ALL IN PLAY: A total of 17 regular SBK riders have already scored points of some kind in 2010, and all of the seven competing manufacturers – Aprilia, BMW, Ducati, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha – have also scored points in the Manufacturers’ Championship at the first attempt. Leading the Riders’ Championship now is Leon Haslam (Suzuki Alstare) who won the first race in Australia, and in doing so took his first WSB win, in his first full factory ride. He is followed in the early rankings by Michael Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) and PI second race winner, privateer Carlos Checa (Althea Ducati). As events in Australia showed very clearly, there will be any number of official or supported private teams who should be capable of podium finishes at some stage in 2010. The combination of experience and relative youth, and the closely regulated technical rules mean that opportunities will be available for all. This coming weekend should be no exception.
PACK OF ACES: The line-up of riders at Portimao features no fewer than 15 who have won at least one SBK race in their careers, plus two former champions in this category, and four other riders with a major world title to their name. Joining the fray for the first time in 2010 will be Makoto Tamada, riding as a stand-in for the injured Roland Resch in the Reitwagen BMW Team, teaming-up with Andrew Pitt for this weekend only. If we look to last year as a guide to form in 2010, Fabrizio won the second race in Portugal, while still active SBK riders Noriyuki Haga (Ducati Xerox), Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Max Biaggi (Aprilia Alitalia) all scored podium finishes on the weekend.An even better gauge of how this weekend should turn out is possibly the results of the official test at Portimao, between 22 and 24 January this year. Rea topped the rankings then, followed by Haslam, Shane Byrne (Althea Ducati), Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha Sterilgarda Team), Fabrizio and James Toseland (Yamaha Sterilgarda team).ON THE UP: BMW Motorrad Motorsport riders Troy Corser and Ruben Xaus will be out for an overall improvement on their PI results, with Xaus in particular keen to turn around his recent fortunes, having not started either race in Australia. Joining Biaggi in Portugal is Leon Camier, the least experienced of the seven British riders in WSB, but a British-based French rider has already made a real mark in his rookie season. Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki Alstare) finished a close fourth in one race last time out, sixth in the other, and is therefore an impressive fifth overall.FIGHT FOR FITNESS AND FORM: Chris Vermeulen (Kawasaki Racing Team) suffered some knee tissue injuries in a crash at Phillip Island but the tough Aussie is determined to ride in Portugal, alongside his team-mate Tom Sykes. Max Neukirchner (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) is expecting better results for his new team this weekend, while Pedercini Kawasaki duo Matteo Baiocco and Roger Lee Hayden are determined to move into points scoring places this time out, as is Vittorio Iannuzzo (SCI Honda Garvie Image). Promising opening weekends for Jakub Smrz (PATA B&G Ducati) and Lorenzo Lanzi (DFX Ducati) in Australia didn’t bear too much fruit so each will be ready for bigger helpings now. Joining the championship at this round is Luca Scassa, on his Supersonic Racing Team Ducati.
Points (after 1 of 13 rounds): 1. Haslam 45; 2. Fabrizio 36; 3. Checa 34; 4. Haga 27; 5. Guintoli 23; 6. Rea 23; 7. Biaggi 19; 8. Corser 16; 9. Camier 10; 10. Lanzi 9. Manufacturers: 1. Ducati 45; 2. Suzuki 45; 3. Honda 23; 4. Aprilia 19; 5. BMW 16; 6. Yamaha 7; 7. Kawasaki 3
SUPERSPORT: Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda) dominated the first race of 2010 at Phillip Island and the last race of 2009 Honda at Portimao, and he is out to repeat the trick at his team’s home circuit this weekend. His toughest opponents will surely be Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda) and Joan Lascorz (Kawasaki Provec Motocard.com) but in a field with real quality in its upper echelons, riders like Fabien Foret (Lorenzini by Leoni Kawasaki), Davide Salom (ParkingGO BE-1 Triumph), Katsuaki Fujiwara (Kawasaki Motocard.com) and many others will have a real chance of top five places. Arguably the rider most keen to shine is local competitor Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda) who wants to put in a career best finish in front of his local fans. Matthieu Lagrive (ParkinGO Triumph BE1) joins the championship for this round, alongside regular rider Chaz Davies.Points (after 1 of 13 rounds): 1. Laverty 25; 2. Lascorz 20; 3. Sofuoglu 16: 4. Salom 13; 5. Foret 11; 6. Roccoli 10; 7. Harms 9; 8. DiSalvo 8; 9. Praia 7; 10. Rea 6. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 25; 2. Kawasaki 20; 3. Triumph 13.