Ducati previews World Superbike Portimao

WSBK Race Preview

In a change to the 2010 World Superbike calendar the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is this year hosting the first European round of the WSBK motorcycle racing championship.

For the last two years the final SBK 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 Ducati and Bayliss has already been crowned World Champions 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 (Nori Haga) rider in SBK Race 1 put him at a disadvantage and even a second place finish subsequently achieved in SBK 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 Quote (2nd in championship, 36 points)

"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 – 2nd

Michel likes the Portuguese circuit and demonstrated this with a win in Race 2 last season. 

Noriyuki Haga Quote (4th in championship, 27 points)

"I had a few problems during the WSBK 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 – 14th

Unlike Michel, Nori does not list Portimao among his favorite tracks; he lost the championship to Spies here last season. 

Portimao WSBK Racetrack

Country: Portugal
Name: Autódromo Internacional do Algarve
Circuit length: 4.658 km
Corners left: 6
Corners right: 9
Length of race: 22 laps= 101.024km

LAP RECORDS: Best lap – Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox) 1’43.529 (2009). Superpole – Spies (Yamaha) 1’42.412 (2009).

2009 RESULTS: Race 1 – 1. Spies (Yamaha); 2. Rea (Honda); 3. Biaggi (Aprilia) Race 2 – 1. Fabrizio (Ducati Xerox); 2. Haga (Ducati Xerox); 3. Rea (Honda)