#tbt to last week creating some dirt waves! This week it’s water waves! 📸 GeeBee
Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook
#tbt to last week creating some dirt waves! This week it’s water waves! 📸 GeeBee
Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook
Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook
Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu will spearhead Pata Yamaha’s WorldSBK challenge for season 2020.
Australian two-time World Supersport Champion Andrew Pitt has stayed with the team but with Alex Lowes’ moving to KRT, will crew chief for Dutchman Michael van der Mark.
Michael van der Mark
Toprak, after two seasons of real achievement as an independent rider in WorldSBK on Kawasaki ZX-10RR machinery has switched to Yamaha for season 2020. His previous crew chief Phil Marron has come with him to Pata Yamaha, keeping their connection strong as they move into the realms of official team racing on a machine which is all-new to both.
Winner of a race at Jerez last year, Michael van der Mark is back for his fourth year on the official R1, but this year there is a revamped cross-plane four-cylinder machine under his command. He has taken three career race wins in WorldSBK, part of a total of 29 podium finishes in all.
Michael van der Mark
A seasoned WorldSBK campaigner and very much in his prime at 27 years-of-age, Michael aims to be a more consistent winner and podium finisher in 2020, having already built up a good relationship with his new R1 in testing after three seasons racing the previous version. Here’s what van der Mark had to say when asked about season 2020.
2020 marks your fourth season as an Official Yamaha rider on the YZF-R1 – are you feeling ready for the new season?
Michael van der Mark: “Of course I’m ready! I’m looking forward to the new season with the 2020 R1 – which is not a completely different bike – but there are a lot of new parts and improvements that will help us. We need to keep making progress, and with this new bike, that for sure will enable us to make another step.”
So, what changes have been made to the new R1?
MVDM: “One of the improvements is the aerodynamics; it works much better for tall riders like Toprak and me. It is a lot more protective and I think we can get a little bit better top speed. Also, I think the fairing design has brought some other benefits, so again it’s a positive feeling. Together with Öhlins and our performance engineers we’ve made a good step forward to find grip – as it’s always been our main issue. Already last year we made a step and it was really important, I felt like we have found a really good direction and exactly what we are looking for. I don’t know any numbers, but this new bike feels a bit faster as well – that’s always nice!”
Michael van der Mark
You have a new crew chief this year in Andrew Pitt – a two-time World Champion in his own right. How is that relationship developing?
MVDM: “I knew Andrew a bit already because he was working with Alex [Lowes] and we always got along well. It honestly feels good, the communication is great and there’s a bit of a mix in the team now; I have some different guys on my side of the garage. I think it’s good to have some new ideas and styles of working, some new motivation and changes; also with Toprak joining the team. So at the moment things are good! From the first moment I worked with Andrew I really enjoyed it and we did some other stuff together as well. I like the way he works as an ex-top rider. He really understands the problems I have and what I am facing when riding the bike, but also the deep technical side he understands really well, so I’m really happy.”
What about your new teammate, Toprak?
MVDM: “I like him! With Alex the relationship was always great, but it’s also good to have Toprak in the team as a young up-and coming-kid. He’s fast right from the start and we’ve had some really nice battles in the past. I’m really looking forward to the season, I think we can have some good battles again and I’ll be working hard to make sure I’m on top! He’ll keep me on my toes, but that’s what everybody wants. His style is so different to mine, but that’s interesting to learn from as well.”
What is your target in 2020?
MVDM: “Win races. If we can win races then we can build a challenge to fight for the championship. Boom!”
At only 23 years-of-age, Toprak is a rider who can already beat the best in a fair fight and who is now looking to the new R1 to allow him to do that on a more consistent basis.
Already a star in his native Turkey and a protégé of compatriot and WorldSSP legend Kenan Sofuoglu, Toprak has made a swift transition to the latest Yamaha R1 after a five-year career spent with a rival manufacturer. Like Michael, Toprak was a Superstock 600 European champion before moving up inside the WorldSBK paddock.
He shared his thoughts about this coming season, the new bikes and possibilities ahead:
Welcome to the Yamaha family and Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Official Team with Rizla. How is the experience so far?
Toprak Razgatlioglu: “It’s a different team and for me, the first time with an official team. I was used to being in a small team, and now coming into an official manufacturer team. I don’t know all the people in the team yet and always I say, for me it is not easy because everyone is different to work with. But already it’s feeling very good and I like it a lot. In the beginning, I was a little… scared! Because I don’t know the team and everything is new. But now I’m very happy and enjoying it. Like with the stoppies at the end of the test, I thought at the start, ‘ah maybe I won’t try because I don’t know if it will be allowed!’ But after one time, somebody asked me ‘can you do another stoppie?’ So then I say ‘OK!’ I didn’t know in the beginning if it would be OK because it was all-new but these are racing people – serious about their jobs – and they also want to enjoy it.”
What is your impression of the new 2020 Yamaha R1 – what are the strong points?
TR: “Again, the Yamaha a new bike for me but now I have the 2020 R1 – between the two I would say there is not a really big difference, just nice improvements. I feel like it is very easy to turn, really good at turning and with the power I am feeling much better. I’m learning that my new bike with Yamaha has a different character from what I rode in the past. After more laps, I feel much better. I’ve always liked Yamaha; my first bike was a PW50! I have ridden Yamaha bikes over many years – I ride a Niken on the streets at home – and now after five years on a different bike, I have come here and I’m very happy.”
You are working with Phil Marron again as your crew chief, is this important when you are inside a new team and with a new bike?
TR: “Yes we work together well and I am very happy. Because we worked together in 2019, he knows me and I feel this is very important because he understands what I need to go fast. Before, my crew chiefs understood me a little and I would just ride the bike, but in 2019 working with Phil, he understands me more and the result is different! I’m very happy because we’re coming together to this new team. For Phil and me it is new: a new team and a new bike. But now already it is a better feeling, but I keep saying, I need more time, more laps and after, it will be a much better feeling!”
Are you enjoying having a teammate for the first time? What are the good and bad points compared to being the only rider?
TR: “In 2019, I raced in a team alone in WorldSBK and I think for me it was very easy, because with just one rider if I had a bad session I didn’t feel very bad. After a good session, I would be very happy. And now, coming to Yamaha and the first time having a teammate it is different [by having someone to compare to] – but I am very lucky because he is a very good guy! I know on the track we are fighting hard but outside we are already friends, feeling is like brothers. I say ‘abi’ to Michael and normally to say ‘abi’ in Turkish means ‘big brother’.”
In 2019 you won your first races and made big improvements. What are your goals in 2020?
TR: “I think last year I said the same – to get a podium at Phillip Island. I need this and last year I tried! It was not possible, but this year I will try again. First race, first podium and try to have a good feeling to start. After that, I try my best always, we will see…”
Continuity can be key in many areas of racing but in 2020 the long-time leader of the Pata Yamaha team’s efforts – Paul Denning – has many new elements to help distil into one potent WorldSBK racing mix, ready to score consistent success at a higher level than ever.
“2020 marks the fifth season since Yamaha’s return to WorldSBK competition in 2016 with the R1 and we are excited to see the next step in our evolution.”. “Yamaha’s Official Team, operated in close partnership with Crescent Racing, has improved every year both in potential and result, made evident by race wins and third and fourth overall in the 2019 Championship. As we get closer to the top level, further improvements are of course more difficult to deliver, but to take the next step forward and challenge for the title must be the target.”
Denning is very much aware that changes have been made with one goal in mind – higher levels of achievement for all.
“Yamaha has continued to improve their development capabilities, the team has improved its structure, and now we also have the new 2020 R1 to help us challenge for victories,” said Paul. “Alongside this, at Yamaha we now have one of the most exciting rider line-ups ever seen in WorldSBK, as Toprak joins Michael to create a talented, young and aggressive team that we hope will allow us to meet our targets and to deliver highly exciting on-track action throughout the new season.”
Toprak Razgatlıoğlu joins Michael van der Mark in the Pata Yamaha squad
Now that winter testing in Europe has concluded, all eyes turn to the official pre-season test in Australia, between 24 and 25 February, which will give the best possible indication of how the new season could start for Pata Yamaha.
The test and then the first weekend of a new era for Pata Yamaha will take place at the same Phillip Island circuit, one that has been host to so many spectacular moments in recent and more historic WorldSBK seasons.
|Friday 28 February 2020|
|8:25||Oceania Junior Cup||Qualifying|
|9:50||FIM Medical Inspection|
|10:00||FIM Track Inspection|
|12:25||Pit Walk 1|
|13:50||Oceania Junior Cup||R1 | 6 Laps|
|Saturday 29 February 2020|
|8:25||ASBK Oceania Junior Cup||R2 | 6 Laps|
|8:50||ASBK Supersport||R1 |10 Laps|
|9:30||FIM Medical Inspection|
|9:40||FIM Track Inspection|
|11:05||Australian Superbike||R1 | 12 Laps|
|11:40||ASBK SS300||R1 | 8 Laps|
|13:40||Pit Walk 2 & Safety Car Laps|
|15:00||WorldSBK||R1 | 22 Laps|
|16:15||Australian Superbike||R2 | 12 Laps|
|16:50||ASBK SS300||R2 | 8 Laps|
|17:15||ASBK Supersport||R2 | 10 Laps|
|17:50||Hyundai N Experience (Test Drive)|
|Sunday 1 March 2020|
|8:20||Oceania Junior Cup||R3 | 6 Laps|
|8:50||FIM Medical Inspection|
|9:00||FIM Track Inspection|
|10:30||Australian Superbike||R3 | 12 Laps|
|11:05||Pit Walk 3 & Safety Car Laps|
|12:00||WorldSBK||SP Race | 10 Laps|
|13:15||WorldSSP||RACE |18 Laps|
|15:00||WorldSBK||R2 | 22 Laps|
|16:15||ASBK SS300||R3 | 8 Laps|
|16:45||ASBK Supersport||R3 |10 Laps|
|17:20||Hyundai N Experience (Test Drive)|
Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook
16-year-old Oli Bayliss, son of three-time World Superbike Champion Troy, will make his debut in the World Supersport Championship at the Phillip Island 2020 season opener after being granted a wildcard entry to the event.
“2019 was a fun year, racing hard and improving, but now I need to step it up again if I want to finish better than 5th in the championship, and racing world supersport against the fastest 600 riders in the world is a great way to kick off the year. I’m lucky to be in the position I’m in with this wild card opportunity, having Dad to motivate me, Ben to build great bikes and to have seen how it all works with Tom (Toparis) racing a wildcard as my team-mate in 2018. So I don’t really feel any pressure. I know I’m fit enough to ride the extra laps that comes with racing both championships, and I just need to go out there, race the track and see how many points I can get!”
Oli Bayliss – TBG Image
Ben Henry’s Cube Racing will prepare the Yamaha YZF-R6 in-house at their Gold Coast based performance shop.
The norm’ for most wildcard entries is to lease a ‘factory’ engine but Henry will build a World Supersport spec’ engine for Bayliss himself.
Team owner – Ben Henry
“We’ve worked really hard back in the shop to build Oli a bike for world supersport, while also preparing for the ASBK season. In Australia, we can’t race with the same level of sensors and data gathering equipment as they can in the world championship, so we do a lot of set-up based on rider feedback, our own feeling from touching the bike as well as watching the way the rider and bike work together on-track, and I’m confident that we have a competitive package for Oli to get his first experience in the world championship. We’ve been in this position before with Tom Toparis, and while we don’t expect to win the race, it’s an incredibly valuable experience for a young rider, and we’re confident with our ability as a team, and with Oli as a rider to get the most out of the opportunity”.
Oli Bayliss – Image by Rob Mott
The major differences are to be found in the cylinder head and a higher specification slipper clutch than the standard unit allowed under ASBK Supersport rules.
There will be some other technical changes on the bike like the allowance for data logging equipment and of course the mandatory red ‘rain’ light must be fitted to the back of the machine for the World Supersport event.
“I’m pretty excited that in just his fourth year racing a road bike, that Oli will get to race in a round of the world championship. It’s another step in his steep learning curve, but he’s really enjoying racing bikes. His first year on a 600 in 2019 taught him a lot, not just about racing a bike, but communicating with the team, also learning what changes in settings have on the bike on-track. He’s really improved a lot and I think the biggest challenge for the weekend will be for Kim and I as we have to watch him on track twice as much! Right now he really wants to do it, he’s enjoying his racing and it’s a difficult one for me as when I ride with him on the track we have the best time ever, but when he’s on the track I feel like a really normal dad, as I get really nervous and I find it really difficult to actually watch him race. It will be his first international race and he’s pretty nervous and excited; it will be an experience and if he can grab a couple of points that will be even better. He has so much more experience than I had at the same age, as I didn’t start road racing until I was 22, he’s just turned 16 and basically he can nearly beat me on the track at the moment.”
It is hard to believe Oli is still only just 16-years-old – Image Rob Mott
Cube Racing will join the official two-day World Superbike/Supersport test on February 24-25 ahead of the March 1 race weekend.
Toprak Razgatlioglu has proven the man to beat at the Portimao Test as the Turk topped the timesheets for Pata Yamaha. That man Jonathan Rea though and KRT were not present in Portugal, and were instead at Montmelo near Barcelona for their own test session.
“It has been so nice to get this extra day after Jerez, because we got really decent weather, the track was dry and we managed to put in a lot of laps. We were able to back-to-back some items that we were not sure about with the weight balance of the bike in Jerez. In the end we tried something on the front suspension and did some practice starts. The big positive is that I really enjoyed the track and the bike works really well here. I think it sets us up in a good frame of mind now. I feel fast and consistent and this positive test has prepared us to go to Australia, where we will start the new season. Thanks to the team for pulling out all the stops to get us a proper test day here because I know it was not in the plan. Next is the team launch where we get to be all excited about our new colours and then move on.”
Kawasaki Racing Team had their own separate test at Montmelo
“I want to say a big thank to KRT for working really hard to get us this extra test. Obviously I have not had too many chances to have dry laps this winter so I really appreciate this extra day at Montmelo. The track is fantastic. It is always exciting coming to a track for the first time. I am getting old now so there are not many tracks I have not ridden! I have really enjoyed it today and I probably learned more about the bike than in the other tests, so that is really positive for me going into Phillip Island. I really enjoyed working with the team and I cannot wait to start racing now.”
With KRT absent from Portimao it was Razgatlioglu topping the timesheets from Scott Redding by just 0.079s as the test came to a close.
“It was a good day even though, to be honest, I couldn’t find the ideal pace. On a few occasions, I found traffic on the track and when I tried the new tyres, the four almost consecutive red flags didn’t allow me to lap consistently. The result of the test is still very positive, considering that this is a circuit where I only rode once in the past and it can’t be considered the most favourable for Ducati. All things considered, we have worked very well and I am satisfied.”
Michael Van Der Mark was fourth fastest, focusing on conserving tyre life, in a move likely to pay dividends at Phillip Island.
Chaz Davies completed the top five as the second Ducati, with Yamaha otherwise dominating the top five, with three of the fastest five riders.
“It’s been a busy couple of days. We were lucky because the weather helped us to carry on our work. We tried new solutions: some of them gave positive results, while on other aspects we will have to work further. The lap-times? We will return to Portugal in September and the track conditions will be completely different so the crono wasn’t our first target. In view of the first Grand Prix in Australia, I feel much more ahead of what I felt last year.”
Leon Haslam was the fastest Honda, ahead of BMW’s Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty.
“We’ve made some good steps today and have got through a lot of the things we had down to test. We didn’t perhaps make the step that others did with the soft qualifying tyre, but all in all the lap times aren’t too bad and I was pretty happy with the race tyres. We have a lot of work ahead of us of course and we’re not yet at the stage where we’re fine-tuning the bike, as we’re still testing fundamental components. I can’t wait to get to Phillip Island now, it’s one of my favourite circuits. The test there will be very important too, and then the aim for the race weekend is to try to be competitive right from the outset.”
Both BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team riders had two bikes at their disposal, allowing Sykes and Laverty and their respective crews to evaluate more new components and different set-up configurations, working on the best possible basis set-up in time for the start of the season.
“I’m very happy with the two tests. Jerez obviously was very challenging on the weather front but we were able to utilise that and do some little fundamental things. It then was much more consistent here in Portugal and we were just able to do a lot of work with our BMW S 1000 RR. We just had to turn a bit of a blind eye to what was going on on track and focus on what we are doing. We worked really hard on different chassis set-ups, on the brakes, electronic strategies… and the list goes on. A big credit to the entire BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team, the boys have worked really hard over these days. Now it’s time to go back home and get everything ready for Phillip Island and where we can focus more on performance.”
“I am really delighted and optimistic coming away from the test. The November test was a bit of a tough one as I got a few surprises when I rode the RR for the first time. The work that the guys have done since is incredible. That’s the nice thing of being involved with a factory team again: the progress is so quick and these guys are so intelligent. I give my comments but in the end my comments are only backing up what they already know. These guys understand very well how to make the bike work. The focus in Spain had been power delivery and traction control and when we arrived at Portimão, we started to play around with the chassis setting. The performance in the end was really good. So after these tests, I’m very happy, we’re in a good position.”
Top Kawasaki performer was Xavi Fores, but that was due to the Kawasaki Racing Team testing at Montmelo, instead of at the Portimao Test.
Alvaro Bautista worked non-stop across both Sunday and Monday in order to make headway with a intense schedule and provide the engineers with as much information as possible so as to facilitate bike development work, and was 16th fastest.
“These tests have been tough for us because in Jerez we could not test much due to the bad weather. So we had to concentrate all the work here in Portimao, basically trying to complete four days of work in just two days. That meant we were forced to spend more time inside the garage than on track and this of course is a bit frustrating when you just want to have everything ready, put in a new tyre and go for it. Anyway, this is the kind of job that has to be done with a new project. I think we now have a lot of data that can be useful in developing the bike and we’ll see how the next step goes in Australia. Those tests prior to the first round will be very important.”
The final pre-season tests will take place at Phillip Island, the venue for the opening round in Australia, just a few days before the start of a whole new racing season.
|4||Michael Van Der Mark||Yamaha||+0.622|
Jules Cluzel leaves the Portimao test as the man to beat in the World Supersport class, closing out the test ahead of Andrea Locatelli and Steven Odendaal, although it bears mentioning it was Locatelli’s first time at Portimao.
Steven Odendaal also worked on coming to terms with the WSSP Yamaha, while Lucas Mahias was the top non-Yamaha rider in fourth on the Kawasak Puccetti Racing machine.
Corentin Perolari made for another Yamaha in the top five on the GMT94 Yamaha, while Philipp Oettl was sixth.
Top Honda was Hikari Okubo in seventh, having made the move from Kawasaki in 2019 to Dynavolt Honda for 2020.
|10||Jaimie Van Sikkelerus||Yamaha||01:47.4|
had their own separate test at MontmeloJonathan worked on balance and overall set-up on his Ninja ZX-10RR machine while Alex learned not just a new track layout but also more aspects of his Ninja ZX-10RR’s character to take into the first competitive round.
It has been so nice to get this extra day after Jerez, because we got really decent weather, the track was dry and we managed to put in a lot of laps. We were able to back-to-back some items that we were not sure about with the weight balance of the bike in Jerez. In the end we tried something on the front suspension and did some practice starts. The big positive is that I really enjoyed the track and the bike works really well here. I think it sets us up in a good frame of mind now. I feel fast and consistent and this positive test has prepared us to go to Australia, where we will start the new season. Thanks to the team for pulling out all the stops to get us a proper test day here because I know it was not in the plan. Next is the team launch where we get to be all excited about our new colours and then move on
Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook
After a rain-affected WorldSBK test at Jerez, WorldSBK headed west to Portimao for testing overnight and got to enjoy some Portuguese sunshine.
It was a Yamaha 1-2-3 at lunch time but Scott Redding got down to business in the afternoon to best the Yamaha men by more than half-a-second.
Scott Redding set quick lap times on both of his bikes and had only been to Portimao once before. With long corners coupled with tight hairpins, the track provides the perfect opportunity for this testing.
Team-mate Chaz Davies confessed that he didn’t really learn much at Jerez and started from square one on Sunday in Portugal. Davies steadily improved throughout the day before eventually finishing seventh on the time-sheets.
Loris Baz was eager to demonstrate his prowess on the Yamaha, as he and his Dutch Ten Kate Racing Yamaha squad prepare for their first full season together. Testing different parts on both the 2019 and 2020 Yamahas, Baz made plenty of strides forward and ended the opening day second only to Redding.
Other Independent riders accompanying Baz inside the top ten were Sandro Cortese (Barni Racing Team) in eighth and Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) in tenth. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Goeleven) was one place further behind.
Michael van der Mark had tyre degradation work on his mind, the Dutchman’s aims are to get the bike smoother on tyres, he was fourth at the chequered flag.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu was one place ahead of van der Mark and also worked on chassis balance, whilst valuing every lap he got aboard the Yamaha YZF R1. The Turkish rider came into Portimao having been second in Spain and was third after day one in Portugal.
Flying the BMW flag on day one at Portimao was Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), with the Irishman going well at the circuit he took his most recent pole position at. Laverty had plenty to test and was looking at how well the engine was working, given the length of the straight at Portimao. However, the 2013 WorldSBK runner-up suffered an engine failure at Turn 3 in the afternoon, bringing out the red flag.
Team-mate Tom Sykes was working on electronics and also his chassis, aiming to improve his race set-up. At the end of the day, Laverty completed the top five whilst Tom Sykes was sixth.
Featuring at the top of the time-sheets at Jerez and once again a prominent force in Portugal, the HRC Team continued looking for their base set-up for the CBR1000RR-R. Leon Haslam was fifth at lunch time before continuing his day acquiring laps and data, whilst Alvaro Bautista got to grips with the Portimao circuit aboard the all-new Honda. Come the close of business on Sunday, Haslam was eighth and Bautista 15th, with plenty more to come on day two for the Honda duo.
In 13th place after turning his first wheel of 2020, Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) enjoyed his Portimao experience aboard the ZX-10RR. Experimenting with a new swingarm and chassis, Fores will aim to consolidate his findings on day two. He was one place ahead of Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) whilst Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) was in 16th.
After an intriguing test at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, it was Portimao’s turn to play host to the FIM Supersport World Championship teams and riders, as they take part in two more days of frantic testing.
The rollercoaster circuit in the Algarve saw three-time WorldSSP runner-up Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) on top of the pile, heading fellow countryman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), whilst South African Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing) completed the top three.
Cluzel continued his pre-season with good pace in Portugal, with the Portimao circuit proving to be to his liking. Fellow countryman Lucas Mahias was also finding the Portimao track enjoyable, having taken a phenomenal victory in the World Supersport class back in 2018. Working on suspension settings and refining small details, Mahias was busy on day one.
Steven Odendaal was also right in contention, with the rookie taking his Dutch squad into the leading positions, whilst explaining that there was little difference between slick and road tyres.
Italian star Andrea Locatelli (Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was fresh off the back of testing at Almeria and was eager to join the other teams on circuit. He continued his adaption to the World Supersport class and placed fourth come the end of day one.
Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha) was up in fifth, also looking to refine small details of his package. Hikari Okubo (Dynavolt Honda) enjoyed his first testing action of 2020 and was sixth, with three manufacturers inside the top six.
Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was back in action after extensive testing at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia, taking to Portimao for the first time. The German rider was fractionally ahead of Jaimie van Sikkelerus (MPM Routz Racing Team), who set as many laps as possible ahead of his first full season on Yamaha machinery.
Danny Webb (WRP Wepol Racing) was ninth on his WorldSSP debut, whilst Turkish rookie Can Öncü (Turkish Racing Team) was tenth and the last of the WorldSSP runners and riders.
After a rain-affected WorldSBK test at Jerez, WorldSBK now heads west to Portimao for testing today and tomorrow, 26th and 27th January.
The second test in January will be the final time we get to see most of the bikes on-track at once before the Phillip Island test the week before the first round, meaning that there will be plenty to keep our eyes on as the new season gets nearer.
After more wet than dry at Jerez teams will be hoping that the sun shines in Portugal over the next two days
Portimao came onto the calendar in 2008 and has been a favourite for the riders ever since, with its dramatic undulations, fast straights, sweeping bends and technical sectors. The factors combined make for the perfect testing circuit and with KRT absent, the ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati squad will be keen to get some running in.
Scott Redding and team-mate Chaz Davies had contrasting Jerez tests; Redding was quick and constantly in the top three, whilst Davies crashed twice within in the morning of day one. With dry running expected, the next two days will be critical for a valid insight into the 2020 season.
Since their comeback to WorldSBK as a factory manufacturer in 2016, Yamaha haven’t enjoyed such a strong pre-season. The Pata Yamaha World SBK Team have been a constant threat to Kawasaki and Ducati and have packed out the leading positions across numerous tests.
Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu looked to be the riders to beat at Jerez at various points and will now get to bring their 2020 engine and 2020 Yamahas to Portimao, a track both riders took podiums at in 2019.
In what has so far been a quiet pre-season, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team will also be present at Portimao and look to really shine through with the sun expected. Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty have both enjoyed strong results at the track before and with plenty to test, both are anticipated more positives across Sunday and Monday. Having stated back at the Jerez test that focus needs to go on the engine, Eugene Laverty will be looking for more power in Portugal, whilst both he and Tom Sykes will continue working through their schedule regarding which chassis to use.
They topped day one at Jerez and had an equally positive second day, but the HRC Team will now take to the Portimao circuit and continue their 2020 pre-season testing programme. Whilst exactly what they are testing has been kept under wraps, the bike has already come out of the box in a competitive nature. Leon Haslam was a regular fixture inside the top three over the Jerez test, whilst Alvaro Bautista enjoyed top ten pace despite a small crash. Will Honda make steps forward in Portugal?
Leon Haslam was quickest on day one at Valencia
With no KRT squad, attention turns to the Independent riders; an impressive Jerez test for the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team gives them plenty to shout about going to Portugal. Federico Caricasulo won in WorldSSP at the track last season and despite suffering a tricky last day of testing at Jerez, he will be eager to get some dry running in warmer conditions under his belt. For Garrett Gerloff, the American will simply be looking to get good track running in dry conditions ahead of the first action at Phillip Island. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) will also be determined to continue his great start to 2020, making incremental steps with the 2020 Yamaha YZF R1.
In terms of the Independent Kawasaki teams, there’s plenty to watch out for as Orelac Racing Verdnatura and Kawasaki Puccetti Racing take to the circuit. For the Valencian-based Orelac squad, Chilean rookie Maximilian Scheib will look to carry on bedding in to the WorldSBK paddock. He will be the first rider from Chile to start a full season of WorldSBK, with the adaptation to the ZX-10RR still ongoing.
For Puccetti, Xavi Fores will be on Kawasaki machinery for the first time in 2020, having not taking part in the Jerez test. It will be the first time he will have raced a four-cylinder WorldSBK machine in 9 years and will aim to get crucial dry weather running under his belt before Phillip Island.
There are four Independent Ducati teams taking to the Portimao circuit across the two days, starting with the Barni Racing Team heading into the test off the back of little track action at Jerez. The Italian squad are keen to shine in Portugal with Sandro Cortese heading out to ride for the team, whilst Leon Camier will be in attendance and if fit enough, out on the Ducati Panigale V4 R. For Leandro Mercado (Motocorsa Racing), he will aim to continue acclimatising to his Ducati Panigale V4 R and achieve his bid of top ten success in 2020. On the fringes of the top ten at Jerez, the former STK1000 Champion is shooting high in the Algarve.
The other two Ducati teams include Team GoEleven and Brixx Performance. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GoEleven) suffered a crash at the Jerez test on day one, hindering his progress. At Portimao, the team will work together to try and understand Rinaldi’s riding style, so they can make changes accordingly.
Frenchman Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) is relishing the opportunity of being back on the world stage and with a good team behind him, Barrier is far from feeling the pressure. He will continue the shakedown of his Ducati Panigale V4 R in order to be in the mix for positive performances come the start of the season.
Four World Supersport teams will also be in action across the two days in order to improve their packages ahead of the 2020 WorldSSP season.
Starting with the Champions, the Bardhal Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team and their sole entrant for 2020 Andrea Locatelli will hope to be in action. The team were scheduled to ride at the Jerez test, but inclement weather meant they packed up earlier and headed to Almeria. Locatelli needs crucial miles and with the new regulations stipulating that slick tyres will be used for the first time in WorldSSP, there’s more than just new parts to try out. The former Moto3 podium finisher has been one of the biggest profiles to come into World Supersport and will look to give the Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team a second teams’ title in as many seasons.
One of the most successful teams in WorldSSP are PTR Honda, rebranded this season as Dynavolt Honda; Simon Buckmaster’s squad picking up new sponsorship for their 2020 World Supersport campaign. With 18 race wins to the team’s name, Hikari Okubo and Patrick Hobelsberger will be in action at Portimao and eager to get to grips with the CBR600RR. The team were consistent top ten runners in 2019 and will hope to move up and challenge for the top six as 2020 unfolds, especially given Okubo’s podium-threatening pace last year.
GMT94 Yamaha had an incredibly strong end to 2019, with Jules Cluzel winning at San Juan and securing a strong podium finish at Losail. Three wins for the 31-year-old three-time WorldSSP runner-up still wasn’t enough to give him the title in 2019 and he will be hoping that the turn of the decade brings luck his way. His teammate for a second season is the flamboyant Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha), who took his first pole in Argentina. He ended 2019 strongly and with the right amount of testing, he could be a real threat to the title.
The final team that will be testing from the WorldSSP field is the WRP Wepol Racing squad, a new addition to the grid this season. Featuring the only British rider in the field – Danny Webb – the team is managed by double World Superbike Champion, James Toseland. Toseland is back in the paddock at Portimao, a track he raced at only once in 2010. For rider Danny Webb, it is a big opportunity back on the world stage, with him clinching the International Road Racing Championship (IRRC) in 2018.
In 2019 Jonathan Rea clinched his fifth consecutive FIM Superbike World Championship title at round 11 of the series in Magny Cours,
Source: Jonathan Rea On Facebook