2015 Portimao World Superbike Commentary

Portimao World Superbike Commentary | Upside/Downside Rea
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea

There seems to be no stopping Jonathan Rea and his Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX10-R, as he nailed down another double-win at Portimão Circuit in Portugal. However, there was quite a bit of action in the World Superbike standings behind Rea, and the rain in Race 1 certainly mixed things up.

Portimao World Superbike Commentary, Upside

Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki Racing Team Ninja ZX10-R: It just gets better and better for Rea, who seems completely unstoppable. “Rebounding” from two seconds in Donington Park, Rea comes up with a double win in Portimão. Even when a downpour in Race 1 threatened to upset the apple cart, Rea quickly dove into the pits and came out the winner for the tenth time in 14 starts this amazing season.

No one has garnered 330 points by the halfway point in the history of World Superbike, making Rea’s season one for the record books. “I have a great bike, a great team around me and great strategy for every weekend,” Rea said. “My crew chief Pere and I sit down and work out a good set-up, evaluating our tires. We learned from some mistakes in Donington that made us stronger here and I am riding well, but I have the tools to do it. So it is massive credit to all my mechanics for working so hard and KHI in Japan, who are continuing to develop.”

Tom Sykes – Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10R: While is wasn’t the double win he had the previous round in Donington Park, Sykes took over 2nd place in the standings from Aprilia’s Leon Haslam. Sykes managed the Race 1 rain well, despite staying out one additional lap and tiptoes through the wet. He looked on form for Race 2, but a slowly deflating rear tire got the best of him and he went from the podium on Lap 16 to 8th place four laps later when the checkered flag flew.

“It has not been a great day for us,” Sykes said, “and it was such a shame that we had a small technical issue in Race 1 and the a flat rear tire in Race Two. In Race 1 the revs dropped for a while and then it cleared again, so I could finish second. The tire had started to go down in pressure from the beginning of Race 2, and it is such a shame because I think we had a good bike set-up today.”

Chaz Davies – Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: A third and a fourth were good enough to help Davies close in on Haslam for third in the standings, who Davies now trails by just 15 points. With Aprilia’s Jordi Torres lackluster performance in Portimão, Davies has a 53-point lead over his closest chasing rival.

“Similarly to Donington, I think third was the best I could have done in Race 1 here,” Davies mused. “Lap times were quick at the start and I was able to keep up with Rea and Sykes up to a certain point, but was then losing something in a couple of points of the track. We made a good pit stop and I was able to hold third to the line, so I’m pleased with the result. The race was pretty wild, with very strong winds, in addition to the rain. The second race was difficult, right from the start. We made some changes between the first and second race, but I didn’t have the right feeling with the front, and couldn’t really brake or stop my bike, as I would have wanted. I think that the variation in temperature made the difference. We will continue working to better understand how we can improve when temperatures rise.”

Portimao World Superbike Commentary | Upside/Downside Giugliano
Ducati’s Giugliano

David Giugliano – Aruba.it Racing- Ducati SBK Team Panigale R: After missing the first four meetings with injuries, Giugliano is making the most of the final two-thirds of the season. A second and fourth put Giugliano on the overall podium and he’s making a run at the Top 10 in the standings, trailing Suzuki’s Alex Lowes by a scant seven points, have gained 24 points over the weekend on Lowes.

“This was an important podium for me,” Giugliano observed, “especially after having finished Race 1 4th. In the first race, I simply didn’t find the right feeling with my bike due to a lack of grip that seems to occur as a result of variations in the weather. Fortunately it rained, because that way we were able to manage the situation a little better, to close 4th–a shame, though, as I could have achieved two podiums here today. For Race 2, we made some changes and my team gave me a bike with which I was able to ride hard and finish 2nd. The updates that my technicians have brought this weekend have helped me, too, and I’m really happy, especially for the fact that, after a three-month break, my team has helped me to get back to a position in which I can fight for the win, which I hope will arrive soon.”

Sylvain Guintoli – Pata Honda World Superbike Team CBR1000RR SP: It has been a difficult first half of the season for the reigning World Superbike Champion, but he sits comfortably in 6th place in the standings, matching his season’s best meeting at Portimão. With Torres slipping into his clutches, Guintoli may soon find himself in the Top 5 in the standings.

“It’s been a good couple of races for us with solid finishes, so a positive weekend really,” Guintoli said. “In Race 1, I was in a group with a lot of fighting and overtaking going on and then, when the rain came, the team did a fantastic job with the pit stop. I had three or four quite fast laps, fighting with Giugliano, so that was quite a good performance for us. Race 2 was good, too; it was a fight all the way to the flag. Near the end of the race we were closing on Sykes and Torres, and I managed to gain two places by overtaking them both, but then lost one place back to [teammate] Mikey [van der Mark]. Overall, it was a very close race but we’ll carry on the good work trying to develop the CBR package continue to close the gap.” Of course, you know Guintoli wishes Honda could homologate the new RC213V-S tomorrow!

Portimao World Superbike Commentary, Downside

Leon Haslam – Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils RSV4 RF: Leaving Phillip Island, Haslam was tied for the World Superbike Championship lead with Rea. Now, at the halfway point, Haslam has slipped to third in the standings, 131 points behind Rea. Certainly, rib injuries are a big part of his inability to return to his early season form, and he did manage is first podium in Race 2 since Thailand, so all is not lost. We’re sure Haslam is looking forward to the month off after Misano.

“I made a bad mistake in Race 1,” Haslam admitted, “sliding on the wet asphalt and making my ribs worse. In the second race, on the other hand, I lost too much time at the beginning, missing a couple of gear changes, and losing touch with the leading group. In the middle section of the race, I had a good pace and was able to move up a few positions to 3rd place. When I had started catching up Giugliano, I began to lose my feeling with the front. I was about a second behind, but the race was over at that point. Getting onto the podium was important both for me and for the team considering how hard the guys worked this weekend.”

Portimao World Superbike Commentary | Upside/Downside Haslam
Aprilia’s Haslam

Jordi Torres – Aprilia Racing Team – Red Devils RSV4: Torres season started off promisingly, with Top 5 finishes at each of the first three meeting. Since then, Torres has only hit the Top 5 once, and his 9th and 11th at Portimão is not what he needed. He’s 199 points behind Rea, and just 18 ahead of Guintoli.

“This was a difficult weekend,” Torres allowed, “but we made a lot of progress. The RSV4 works well here. We were able to improve even compared to yesterday with a small change we made before the races. In Race 1, I didn’t start well. I was lacking confidence at the beginning. Then I set my pace until I was in about sixth place. Unfortunately, the rain ruined everything. It was my first time riding the RSV4 in the wet and I was careful not to crash and ruin everything. In Race 2, I got off the line more aggressively and at mid-race I had the pace to defend sixth place well. But in the final laps, I had a sudden loss of grip at the rear tire. I didn’t take any risks and I settled for bringing home some important points.”

Alex Lowes – Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000: Lowes summed it up concisely: “Race day was a real disappointment.” Lowes simply can’t seem to put together two consecutive successful meetings in a row. Hitting the Top 5 in Donington Park, he barely made it into the Top 10 once at Portimão. He entered Portugal in 8th place in the standings, and leaves in 10th, just seven points ahead of a surging Giugliano, who has only completed in half as many meetings as Lowes.

Nico Terol – Althea Racing Team Ducati Panigale R: After the Portimão meeting, the former 125 GP World Champion lost his Althea ride. At one time as high as 6th in the standings, a nasty crash precipitated a drop to 13th after Portimão, where he finished 15th twice.

“I embarked on this challenge with great enthusiasm,” Terol said after being cut loose. “I immediately had good feeling with the team and with the bike, right from the first tests, which made me think that I was regaining the right sensations with which to start going fast. But things got more complicated after some crashes, and after an injury which put me a step back. I believe that, for the good of both parties, the best solution is for me to take a break. The team is working hard and I cannot repay their trust in this way, even if on my side I really wanted to be able to do well. I can only thank [Althea Racing team owner] Genesio Bevilacqua and the entire team for these months spent together. Now, I need to stop and reflect and find a way to get back to feeling like a strong rider and turn the page after the last very difficult 18 months.”

2015 World Superbike Standings:

1. Jonathan Rea – 330 points
2. Tom Sykes – 206
3. Leon Haslam – 199
4. Chaz Davies – 184
5. Jordi Torres – 131
6. Sylvain Guintoli – 113
7. Matteo Baiocco – 88
8. Michael van der Mark – 85
9. Leandro Mercado – 85
10. Alex Lowes – 80
11. Davide Giugliano – 73
12. Ayrton Badovini – 63
13. Nico Terol – 54
14. Román Ramos – 47
15. David Salom – 42