Portimao World Superbike Tests

A few World Superbike teams, including Team Hero EBR, Aruba.it Racing Ducati, Aprilia Red-Devils and Crescent Suzuki, wrapped up a two-day pre-season test at the Autodromo International do Algrave in Portimao.

The test was hampered by rain and cold winds, but the teams were able to get some positive testing in ahead of 2015 World Superbike, which begins in Phillip Island February 22.

The revamped Team Hero EBR team made significant progress with its new lineup of riders – Larry Pegram, who is also the Team Manager, and Niccolo Canepa.

“A lot of guys told me that Portimao is a very difficult track and it is definitely the hardest track I have ever been to. So for me it was mostly about learning the track and putting in the laps. We made many changes to the electronics, but hardly touched the tires or set-up at all. I was happy with what we did but wish we had another day on track,” Pegram said.

“We ended up getting almost a whole day of testing in over the two days. As I was learning the track and getting used to all the different changes of elevation and blind approaches to corners, I didn’t really bother about my lap times.

“I am really happy that Niccolo did so well, especially as he managed almost the same time as he did on his bike from last year. We are at a proper European track and he is doing the same speed, so I am happy.”

Niccolo Canepa also spoke of the test: “Because of the variable weather conditions we did 44-laps, which is not that bad, but I would have liked to have done more. Over the two days we worked very hard and changed the bike a lot and I am very happy about the progress we made. I think my lap times were good compared to the other riders and also compared to last year’s time – both mine and last year’s bike.

“The team is working really well together and we are all going in the right direction. The EBR has to be ridden differently to a Ducati, but every time I go out, I know I am improving my understanding of the bike. The technicians, suspension engineer and I are learning how to set-it up in the best way to find the perfect feeling. I think we are all doing a good job and I am excited about the possibilities for our next test.”

The new Aruba.it Racing Ducati Superbike Team was present with its riders – both returning from 2014 – Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. The two were able to get some laps in on the new 2015 1199 Panigale R machines, and test suspension and electronics.

Davide Giugliano said “unfortunately this two day test was compromised by the poor weather. We only started to work in dry conditions in the early afternoon of today. It’s given us just a first taste of the newly-built 2015 bikes really.

“We’ve concentrated on identifying a base set-up for both the electronics and the suspension, with used tires, without worrying too much about lap times. We have another two-day test at Jerez next week in which to continue preparations before leaving for Phillip Island. We hope for some good weather there so that we can work hard throughout the two days.”

Chaz Davies also commented on the test: “It’s been great to get back on the bike after the winter break. Unfortunately the weather limited our work somewhat and we were unable to fully evaluate certain new solutions as track conditions were never perfect. My general feeling with the bike is good however, and this is positive. At this point, I really hope we find good weather at the next tests in Jerez so that we can continue to work and also draw some comparisons with the other teams.”

The new Aprilia-Red Devils team worked with its new 2015 RSV4 and riders Leon Haslam and Jordi Torres. Joining these riders was two-time World SBK Champion Max Biaggi.

Speaking after the test, Leon Haslam said “the weather definitely wasn’t kind to us for these tests but I’m quite pleased anyway. This afternoon we were fast and I can tell that my feeling with the RSV4 is increasing lap by lap. There is still a lot of work to be done and I can’t wait to get back on the track in Jerez to continue our progress and make sure we’re in good form for the beginning of the season.”

Jordi Torres said “I can’t help but be pleased with our work today. We took the best possible advantage of a half a day on a dry track. The feeling is good, the bike is working great and the team is perfect. Now we need to get in as many laps as possible. I need to get used to new tyres, a new bike and, here in Portimão on an unfamiliar track too. Finishing the tests just a couple seconds behind an expert and fast rider like Leon boosts my confidence. Now let’s just hope we can put in some good times at Jerez so we can keep growing.”

Max Biaggi also commented: “We really did not have a lot of time, especially when you consider the fact that the crash yesterday limited me a bit today. We’re still not at optimum performance levels, but we have already started working on a few details. I’m picking the automatism back up. It’s always great to get back on the track, but I have to get used to it again. I need to lap, so I hope we have nice weather in Jerez to do a good job.”

Despite the unfavorable weather conditions, the Crescent Suzuki team of Alex Lowex and Randy de Puniet completed a detail program to test its new 2015-spec engine aboard the GSX-R 1000s.

The teams will now travel to Jerez in Spain for another two-day test Monday and Tuesday (January 26-25).

For more on the series, visit World Superbike.