Rea quickest again in Portimao WorldSBK test

Lowes second fastest as WorldSBK newcomer Bautista takes third.

Image: Supplied.

The final two-day European pre-season test before the 2019 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK) kicks off at Phillip Island next month has been completed in Portimao, Portugal, where four-time champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) once again topped the timesheets.

A stronger wind blew at the Portuguese rollercoaster race track, but riders didn’t back down and aware of the importance of every single hour of testing available, they took to the track early in the morning to make their final arrangements ahead of the WorldSBK season opener.

Both the days saw stiff competition with many riders and four different manufacturer bikes contending the top spot till the very last minute of on-track activity, showing off similar paces.

But in the end, it was reigning champion Rea who came out on top at the end of the two days, despite suffering a small crash on the final minutes of on-track activity. Working on finding a good base setup for his Kawasaki ZX-10RR, the Northern Irishman was happy with the improvement made with his crew during the off-season, and he now looks forward to Australia to see where they really stand.

On the other side of the garage, Leon Haslam was more than pleased in ending the European Winter test in fourth position. Returning to the WorldSBK championship after four years, the British rider was able to find back his confidence with the WorldSBK machine over the four days of testing at Jerez and Portimao.

Bringing on the fight to Rea and the green machines, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) continued with his stunning pace also on Day Two at Portimao, as he closed in second position 0.959s behind Rea. Together with his teammate Michael van der Mark, who finished fifth, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team riders successfully completed their program, as they worked on confirming the new parts tested during the days before.

In the Racing – Ducati garage Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista were able to make consistent progress working on the base setup of the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 R. Testing different tyres and many aspects of his new bike, Alvaro Bautista set an outstanding fastest lap time of 1m41.934s, taking the third spot of the timesheets, on a race track with such unique features, that he barely knows.

Team-mate Chaz Davies who was still struggling with back pain put in 42 laps on the V4 R today and finished a tough test in 11th position. But it wasn’t just the green, blue and red machines to impress at Portimao. BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team rider Tom Sykes put in a sensational lap today, conquering the sixth spot in 1m42.246s.

The British rider was surprised by how close they were, considering they are still in their development phase. Also, Markus Reiterberger, who worked on the geometry of the bike and on testing different tyres, completed a positive test finishing tenth overall. After their sixth day on track with the new BMW S1000RR, which colours were revealed today live on their social media channels, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team can now head to Australia with a lot of confidence after their positive work.

Continuing to adapt to the WorldSBK bike, 2018 WorldSSP World Champion Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) set the seventh fastest lap time, while teammate Marco Melandri closed eighth overall.

Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) had a strong pace on both days as he closed in ninth position. The Turkish rider worked on improving his feeling on board the Kawasaki ZX-10RR that will only be updated into the 2019 version at Phillip Island. Working also alongside a new crew chief, it was a positive two-day test for the young rider and his team.

It was a tally two-day test for Independent team riders Michael Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team) and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), both working on the development of their Ducati Panigale V4 R. The Italian rider closed in 12th position, while Laverty, who still have a lot of work to do with his new team, finished 13th.

Developing the new Honda CBR1000RR, 2019 WorldSBK rookie Alessandro Delbianco finished fourteenth after two days trying to get acquainted with the WorldSBK machine. The next test will be at Phillip Island in Australia, scheduled for 18-19 February.


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