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Jul 01, 2014 - 05:00 PM
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Preview World Supersport-Superbike, Portimao, Portugal
Posted by: newsla on Jul 01, 2014 - 04:59 PM
Preview World Supersport-Superbike, Portimao, Portugal

Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) and Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team) approach the eighth round of the FIM Superbike World Championship, at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, determined to reclaim their very best form as they aim for podium places this coming weekend.


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Rea is poised and ready to work with his pit crew to rediscover the kind of machine set-up that has seen him win three races in 2014 already. Rea particularly enjoys racing at the circuit located close to Portimao and has scored seven podiums at the same track on which he took part in his first ever SBK ride for Honda, way back in 2008. He had started that year in the WSS class but moved up to the SBK division at the final round. His precocious talent saw him finish fourth in his first ever race in Portugal and in 2011 he also went on to take the Superpole win at the Algarve circuit.

The rider from Northern Ireland has expanded his career race-winning tally to 14 this year and led the championship at one point. He is currently fourth in the championship rankings, 52 points behind the leader with six rounds and 12 races remaining, including Portimao.

Haslam has been working as hard as ever to get back to his proven race winning best and that has included a recent extra burst of expert physiotherapy to try and get rid of the last traces of a troublesome shoulder injury that he suffered recently. Haslam also endured a serious left leg injury in an early season race at Assen last year and therefore missed the Portimao round in 2013.

So far in 2014 Leon has a best individual race finish of fifth and is thus hunting podiums at Portimao, a circuit he knows well. Leon is no stranger to the Algarve circuit’s podium ceremonies, having been on the podium in Portugal on three occasions, one of them on a CBR1000RR Honda in 2008.

The Portimao track is a superbly designed venue albeit contained in a limited amount of space. Since it first opened it has provided a tough challenge for all riders, simply because of its many dramatic dips and elevations, with multiple blind corner entries and short straights that ensure the riders of modern-day SBK machines get virtually no breathing space between corners. Even the main straight, approached at a fast pace, has a rise that becomes almost a jump at the beginning and then onto a downhill approach to the first corner.

The Superbike World Championship teams – but not their Supersport equivalents - will head for America immediately after the Portimao race weekend to take part on the ninth round of the championship at Laguna Seca, between 11 and 13 July.


As the FIM Supersport World Championship approaches its eighth round this weekend championship leader Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) will have the chance to defend his championship lead at one of his favourite circuits – Portimao.

Having scored three race wins in 2014 so far, to enjoy a 28-point advantage as things stand, Van der Mark is happy to attempt to grow his race-winning total and add to his already healthy points lead. ‘Mikey’ won both Superstock 600 European Championship races he competed in at Portimao before moving up to the WSS class last year, so he is fully aware of the intense 4.592km long Portuguese circuit’s secrets and challenges.

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) will be another potential race winner in the Portimao mix, having scored his first career SBK win at Imola earlier this year, shortly before experiencing some bad luck at the next round with a no-score and then finding a less than perfect race set-up that held him off the Sepang and Misano podiums.

Zanetti is still fourth in the championship as he heads to Portugal, 15 points behind second place, with five rounds (including Portugal) to go.

Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda) was unfortunate not to score at Misano last time out, his first DNF of a very consistent year, but nevertheless he remained inside the overall top ten. Now ninth, he is only two points and two places behind the seventh placed rider in the championship.

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda) has been making steady progress up the championship table since his full-time arrival in the series this season. Currently in 11th place the former Moto2 rider learns more of the intricacies of WSS with every passing weekend. It is no surprise that his best result so far, sixth place, came at a circuit he knows as well as any other, Sepang in Malaysia.

Marco Bussolotti (Team Lorini Honda) is 12th in the points after his Misano no-score last time out while Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) has moved into the top 15 as he recovers from early season bad luck. Kennedy had the chance to test at Portimao in the winter, like some other top riders - including Van der Mark and Zanetti - and he hopes this will make a real difference to his qualifying and raceday showings.

Spanish youngster Nacho Calero (CIA Insurance Honda) is still looking for his second points scoring weekend of the season after opening his account at the first round in Australia. Valentin Debise from France (Com Plus SMS Racing Honda) returns again after riding at Misano and team Lorini Honda will have Ferruccio Lamborghini, and one-event rider Luca Marconi, in action alongside him in Portugal.

There will be no round in America for the WSS riders, meaning their next points scoring opportunity will not be until 7 September, at Jerez in Spain.


Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“I’m really excited to be heading to a circuit where I really enjoy riding the CBR and, without doubt, Portimao is one of the most exhilarating tracks on the World Superbike calendar. It’s close by one of the main tourist areas in the Algarve and I have a lot of friends coming out for the weekend, so I’m even more excited about this round. The last few races have thrown up a few problems in managing the electronics on the bike, especially engine braking, so Portimao gives us an opportunity to go back to basics. We had a good five-day test there earlier in the year when the team extended our stay there because of early rain. We got a good base setting then so I’m hoping that will be a solid starting point for the weekend. I need to be really strong in the next couple of races because they take us to about two-thirds distance on the season and it’s important to carry some confidence and momentum into the final part of the year.”

Leon Haslam (Pata Honda World Superbike Team)
“I didn’t race at Portimao last year because of my broken leg, but I really like the circuit and I’ve had some good races there over the years. I’ve been on the podium a few times and it’s a special place for me because I got my first SBK podium with Honda there in 2008. It’s fun to ride and it’s quite a physical circuit but my shoulder is feeling a little better after Misano. I’ve had some good physio down at the English Institute of Sport, which I’m hoping will see me through the next three races at Portimao, Laguna Seca and then Suzuka for the Eight-Hour, which are all quite physical tracks. We tested at Portimao earlier this year when it was wet a lot of the time, but we know the CBR goes well there and I’m quite excited to be trying a different engine this weekend.”

Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
"We tested at Portimao last winter and we were quite fast despite the weather conditions. Every year I ride there I seem to get a good result so I am really looking forward to going back again. Jules Cluzel won the previous race at Misano but I really want to win again. Portimao is a difficult track for every bike because you have to concentrate on so many things and it is not a track that needs just one set-up. You need to find an overall setting that can work in every corner there. There is not one place you can relax around the lap so you have to work hard all the time. This one is like a rollercoaster! It is a hard track but I really love it.”

Lorenzo Zanetti (Pata Honda World Supersport Team)
“For sure Portimao is my worst track of the year but I do not know why! Maybe it just does not suit my riding style but in the end I have worked a lot this season to have a good result in every race. I tested for three days in Portimao this winter, although not a lot in dry conditions. My lap times were good when the track dried up, however, so I think this year we can have a possibility to fight up front, just like at the other races. I have had two recent races without really positive results, so I need to work with my team to find a solution. In the past two or three races I have had some issues with tyre life, because I have finished with less tyre than Mikey. Because of this I have lost a few seconds in the races compared to other riders. I am sure it is just a bit of set-up with the bike and my riding style so I have to work on that. We have made good progress in 2014 even though the class is very competitive between the top five or six riders.”

Raffaele De Rosa (CIA Insurance Honda)
“At the last round we qualified much better, on the front row. I put myself under pressure early on and crashed in the race. This is all good for learning and I will have a new positive approach at Parkalgar. I think we can be top five and maybe on the podium because my CIA Insurance Honda is doing what I want and is a very fast motorcycle.”

Ratthapark Wilairot (Core PTR Honda)
"We made some good improvements at Misano and I will take those positives to Portugal. We are getting closer to the front and the podium with every race and we will be doing our best for sure.”

Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda)
"Portimao is a track that I really like and I am feeling confident for the weekend because I know how strong we were when we tested there before. I am more than ready to turn my season around and put in that podium that we have not quite got yet. Our pace has been good this year and I think we have been able to make forward steps with the bike as the season has gone on. Because of that we may go somewhere in between the settings we had in testing at Portimao and where the bike is now and see how we go in the early practice sessions.”

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