Portimao SBK Report
Jonathan Rea experienced mixed fortunes in today’s two second round World Superbike championship races at Portimao, taking a spectacularly well-fought podium in race one, but retiring from the second outing.
Both this afternoon’s races were won by Italian Max Biaggi, as Rea’s Hannspree Ten Kate Honda team-mate, Max Neukirchner struggled with his own technical issues in the first race. The German brought his CBR1000RR Superbike home for a solitary championship point in race two.
Starting from fifth place on the grid, in the first 22-lap encounter at the 4.592km Portimao circuit, Rea found himself bumped out of contention by another rider in turn one and was forced to compose himself for another fight back through the field. From 12th place, the Northern Irishman battled his way through to well-earned podium by the flag.
He enjoyed a trouble-free start to race two and slotted into second place behind Biaggi before passing the Italian on lap two. On the eight lap, however, the 23-year-old was forced to retire from the Superbike race with a technical problem.
Jonathan Rea – 3rd and DNF
"I had a big crash on Friday and had to rebuild my confidence through the rest of the weekend and then some idiot let the brakes off going into turn one in the first race. I locked the front brake and went straight into the gravel which was scary. I really needed to get away with Max and Leon, but I caught up to Crutchlow and he was making quite a few mistakes when I put some pressure on him. I got third place but I don’t think it was gifted and I think would have got it anyway."
"In race two I was holding my own with Biaggi but messed up the last corner on lap five, I think, so Leon and Crutchlow got by. I was still feeling pretty comfortable, but then heard a funny noise going down the straight a couple of laps later, so I pulled in the clutch and that was it. It’s pretty frustrating watching the end of a race from the garage, and we need to make some in-roads to get back to the front soon. We’re testing some new electronics here tomorrow and then it’s off to Valencia, where we had a good test last December. Let’s hope for better things there."
Max Neukirchner – DNF and 15th
"We have struggled to get the right balance for the bike all weekend and, even though we’ve had some good ideas, we haven’t really found one that works. We’ll keep working though and, luckily, we have a test here tomorrow, which I hope will give us some opportunities to find a way forward."
"The biggest problem I have is getting the bike to turn and hold a line going into the corners. It means I’m having to brake earlier for each turn and by the end of the race… well, it’s not very good. But we’ll look at things again tonight and hopefully make some progress before we go to Valencia in two weeks time."
Ronald ten Kate – team-manager
"Well, the weekend was looking promising but it just goes to show that you can’t assume anything. Jonathan had good pace all weekend and in race one he was a bit unlucky that he got hit on the way into the first corner. However, he fought back fantastically to a great third place so, when he was in second position in race two, we were ready to watch some action."
"Unfortunately, the sheets show that his engine was starting to lose power from early in the race and eventually he had to pull out. For Max, we made quite some changes to his bike on race day but his clutch burnt out in the first race and he clearly struggled in the second. We definitely need a weekend without all these gremlins around and hopefully it will be at Valencia."
2010 World Superbike Championship – Round 2
Portimao, Portugal (4.592km – 22 laps) Results
WSBK Race One
1. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 37’59.283s
2. Leon Haslam (GBR) Suzuki +0.200s
3. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda +6.901s
4. Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati +7.457s
5. Leon Camier (GBR) Aprilia +7.564s
6. Shane Byrne (GBR) Ducati +11.420s
DNF Max Neukirchner (GER) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
SBK Race Two
1. Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia 38’06.128s
2. Leon Haslam (GBR) Suzuki +0.191s
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha +0.658s
4. Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati +1.015s
5. Leon Camier (GBR) Aprilia +3.123s
6. James Toseland (GBR) Yamaha +9.131s
15. Max Neukirchner (GER) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
DNF Jonathan Rea (GBR) Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
World Superbike Championship Points after two of 13 rounds: 1 Haslam 85, 2 Biaggi 69, 3 Checa 60, 4 Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Ducati 46, 5 Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Ducati 43, 6 Rea 39.
Next World Superbike round: Valencia, Spain – 9-11 April