It’s time for the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship bikes to make their return to the grid for Round 10 of the season, and anticipation is building as we’re set for four explosive final rounds. Taking on the undulating Autodromo Internacional do Algarve this weekend, our 20 riders are preparing for the scorching skies and obliterating on track battles. 4.5km of tarmac follows the rollercoaster style circuit of Portimao, and with a stunning record here for reigning world champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), fans are set for weekend to remember.
With a championship lead of 92 points heading into the Nolan Portuguese Round, Jonathan Rea will be keeping one eye on the title this weekend. With a strong history around Portimao, the Northern Irish rider has competed in 18 WorldSBK races around the 4.5km circuit, taking five victories and 12 podium finishes. Performing well with both the Honda and Kawasaki, it’s clear Rea enjoys the pace of Portimao. Hoping to continue his run of four consecutive wins in 2018 which began back at Laguna Seca this season, he will also look at taking his sixth consecutive victory around Portugal. The numbers speak for themselves, but it will be the race pace that does the talking.
Heading back to the track after a somewhat turbulent summer break, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will be nursing a collarbone injury following two training crashes this summer, but hopes to be back and fighting fit this week. Breaking his right collarbone in the first week of the break in a mountain bike crash, he later saw the crack re-open following a Supermotard crash two weeks ago. Looking at taking his first victory around Portimao – his best result here is a second – he will come out fighting as he embarks on the Paniagle R’s final eight races.
Sitting in third position in the championship standings, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) returns to the track which saw him take his debut Yamaha podium last season, after a stunning race two battle. Three top five finishes out of four races are welcomed for the Dutch rider in Portugal, as well as a win here in WorldSSP in 2014 on top of STK600 wins. A strong history in the Algarve and some strong official testing times will see him fight to keep hold of his strong championship position.
Whilst on the other side of the garage, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) will be looking at improving his best result of fourth here, as he continues to feel more comfortable on the R1.
Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty returns to a favoured circuit of his, and his eyes will be on the podium prize. Making a breakthrough with his team back at Laguna Seca, the Irish rider was able to regain the all important feeling in the rear tyre he had been searching for with the RSV4 RF and has two podiums to his name in 2018. With 10 race appearances in his WorldSBK career here, he has collected two wins and three podiums and welcomed a top four finish in 2017’s race two. With improvements found, Laverty will be a strong contender for the podium under the sunny Algarve skies.
Another rider who suffered an injury throughout the summer was Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), but with four days of testing at Portimao back in August he was able to fully test his fitness levels ahead of the final third of the season. Fracturing his C5 vertebrae in Suzuka 8 Hour testing, he was able to use the break to recover and now is determined to improve the results with the Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2. With an all new bike underneath him following a busy summer for his Ten Kate squad, it will be a big weekend for the British rider. A solid history of top five finishes here will help with his pace, on top of the top four finish with MV Agusta last year.
Frenchman Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) had a busier summer break than anticipated as he was called in as a replacement rider for KTM at the British MotoGP™. But his thoughts will now return to WorldSBK, as he continues to work on improving his BMW machine, sitting in 12th in the world championship standings. Baz last raced around Portimao in 2014, and took a podium finish that same year – in Race One. Memory and race craft will be key for the 25 year old this weekend, and at a track he has never finished outside of the top seven around, it will be an interesting weekend for him.
With some strong days at the official summer test here, Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) will be looking to make some improvements in his final four rounds of 2018 after the Spaniard has had a tough transition to the Italian machine. Making some fundamental changes throughout the two days, he will hope his team has a strong year like 2017 where they were able to take home a top four. Torres has an impressive pace himself in Portugal, scoring points in all four races and taking a top five finish in 2017. Currently in 13th in the championship standings, he will be ready for a big battle.
Don’t miss out on any of the Portimao action as WorldSBK makes it much anticipated return from 14th – 16th September. Bikes take to the track for FP1 on Friday at 09.45LT (+1 GMT), with Superpole beginning at 10.30 on Saturday ahead of Race one at 13.00. Lights go out for race two at 15.15LT to end the weekend with a bang.
Autodromo Internacional do Algarve is set to be a pivotal stage for the ninth round of the FIM Supersport World Championship, as there is plenty still to play for with four weekends remaining. 35 points split the top six riders, and it will be the first time competing around the 4.5km circuit for more than half the grid. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) leads the way by five points, but anything can happen in WorldSSP.
German rookie Cortese has impressed so far this season, finishing off the podium on only three occasions in 2018. But he is heading into new territory this weekend, preparing to make his debut around Portimao with his YZF-R6. After taking any new tracks in his stride so far this season and now with his rivals hot on his tails and hungry for the win, the opening free practice sessions will be key for the 28 year old. Last winning at Donington Park back in May, it’s been a while off the top for Cortese.
Main rival Jules Cluzel (NRT) has been able to impress throughout the season following a steady start to his 2018 campaign, but once the championship hit Europe he has only finished off the podium once. One of the most experienced men on the grid around the Portimao circuit, he has two wins, one podium and one DNF under his belt in Portugal. Taking pole position here in 2015, his pace here will be one to watch. Hungry to get a grasp on the championship lead, he will put up a strong battle. Finishing off the podium last time out in Misano, he will hope to rectify this in Portugal.
There has been some changes to the grid throughout the summer break, with Hector Barbera joining the series with Kawasaki Puccetti Racing as he replaces Sheridan Morias on the ZX-6R. The experienced Spaniard underwent two days of testing over the summer, but now he has a new battle around the undulating Portimao circuit. Whilst British rider Alex Murley joins GEMAR Team Lorini, making his debut in the series.
The championship battle isn’t only down to two men however, as Randy Krummenacher (BARDHL Evans Bros WorldSSP Team) sits in third position and only 22 points behind. With some pivotal summer tests put in, the Swiss rider is making his WorldSSP debut around the circuit meaning it will be a bigger challenge than normal with his YZF-R6.
Follow all the WorldSSP action from Portimao as it promises to offer some stunning action out on track, with the lights going out for the race on Sunday 16th September at 13.45LT.
When the lights go out this Sunday, for the penultimate FIM Supersport 300 World Championship race of 2018, it will be twenty-four hours short of a year since Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) became the talk of the sporting world. 53 thousandths of a second was all it took for her to become the first woman to win a world championship race in Portugal, and now she is preparing for another historical weekend.
The famed rollercoaster track started a rollercoaster year for Carrasco, as one year later she is the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship leader, and has the first opportunity to take the title. Back to where it all began in the Algarve, she sits 16 points ahead of her rivals and could be crowned WorldSSP300 champion on Sunday. But after two tough races in Brno and Misano, she will be looking to bounce back.
Title glory is anything but guaranteed for Carrasco, however. The gap with Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), her closest rival this season, has closed to just 16 points, and the German has finished ahead of the Kawasaki rider in both last two races. He’s also a proven winner, taking victory earlier this year at the always-treacherous Assen, and kept active this summer with a Moto3™ wild card.
Sitting in third position overall, Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) crashed out after one lap at Misano, but he has also finished three consecutive times on the rostrum this season, more than anyone else in the series. The Spaniard remains a talented and dangerous rival on the Ninja 400, despite his 26-point deficit with the championship leader. Three points behind Sánchez is Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki). The Dutchman was leading in Rimini when mechanical issues ended his Sunday early through no fault of his own. With pace on his side, Deroue will be aiming to take his first win since Assen 2017 and keep his championship options alive going into the final showdown at Magny-Cours.
For the rest of the riders in the championship race a win at Portimao may not be enough to make it to France with options, but that will not hinder their motivation in Portugal. Despite his two no scores at the start of the season, Galang Hendra Pratama (BIBLION YAMAHA MOTOXRACING) remains in the mix in sixth position in the standings, 32 points from the lead and tied with Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), who also has two zeroes to his name. Both men have been permanent fixtures in the top ten whenever they’ve been able to finish a race and hold several wins between them – neither rider is out of this battle just yet.
The first of the last two World Supersport 300 battles takes place on Sunday at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve! Will the title get decided in Portugal? Lights go out at 12.45LT (+1 GMT).
European Superstock 1000 Championship riders are back in action after their summer break, and with just two races left anything could happen. Three riders remain in the title race, but several more have shown they have the pace to play much more than just small role at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
Markus Reiterberger (alpha Racing-Van Zon-BMW) holds a 14 point lead at the top of the championship standings. The German rider has won four races out of six this season, three from lights to flag, and taking pole in each one of them; the 24 year old has been ruthless when in the lead. The remaining races are anything but a formality for Reiterberger however: just one mistake or technical problem at Portimao could throw him off the top of the standings and place him in a very perilous position going into the final round. The former WorldSBK rider will undoubtedly try to get the job done early.
His main rival going into the end of the end of the season is Maximilian Scheib (Aprilia Racing Team), who has shown incredible consistency throughout the year. The Chilean has scored five consecutive podiums along with a fourth place finish at MotorLand Aragon – he suffered a mechanical failure two laps from the end, while riding in second – and will be ready to pile the pressure on his championship rival.
The other rider left in the championship battle is Roberto Tamburini (Berclaz Racing Team), 28 points from the lead. The Italian knows what it’s like to win at Portimao, taking victory in 2015, also on a BMW. While he faces an uphill battle, another win in the Algarve would automatically keep his title options alive going into France – and in an all or nothing race, anything can happen.
Federico Sandi (MOTOCORSA Racing) will travel to Portugal searching for a first return to the rostrum since the opening race of 2018. While the Ducati rider cannot catch Reiterberger in the standings, he will be looking to prove a point and come out on top at Portimao, the same track where he took his best WorldSBK result back in 2013.
Keep up with all the STK1000 action this weekend, with only two weekends remaining in 2018. The main event will kick off at 11.45LT (+1 GMT), as the crowds will be watching to see if we have our first champion of 2018 crowned.
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