Posting the fastest time of the official World Superbike test in Portugal, Jakub Smrz was the fastest man at Portimao. A feat in its own right, Smrz’s accomplishment is compounded by the fact that the Portuguese track saw three days of continuously changing weather. In a climate that kept the bikes off the track, and the riders bored in the garages, Jonathan Rea and Eugene Laverty rounded out the fastest three riders at Portimao, with times set also on Wednesday afternoon. The first day was fair, though conditions worsened greatly overnight, making Thursday morning entirely unappealing for test laps. Luckily, Friday dried out through the afternoon, but no one was able to best Smrz’s early mark of 1:43.503 during the testing sessions.
All too often winter testing provides plenty of data for the teams and riders, but not nearly enough for journalists and fans who wish to prognosticate. While teams might focus on a certain sector during one lap and another the next, they hide their own flaws and keep their best performances to themselves. Combined with poor weather conditions, a rider sitting out to recover from surgery (Chris Vermeulen), and an entire team testing at another location, the WSBK winter test leaves very little actual story to tell before the start of the racing season.
An alternate way to see how the riders and teams are performing at this stage is to compare not their quickest times, but their overall rankings over the course of the sessions. With the Portuguese weather remaining uncooperative, times varied between and within the sessions, and though not every rider posted times for each session, how he did in comparison to his fellow lap-setters within that session and overall can make it easier to guess which teams and riders are doing better than others.
Session Rankings for January 26th-28th Test at Portimao:
|Xaus||6th||13th||No time||No time||1st||1st|
|Biaggi||3rd||6th||No time||No time||No time||No time|
|Camier||8th||9th||No time||No time||14th||5th|
|Lascorz||9th||10th||No time||No time||7th||10th|
At the end of this first official WSBK test, we only know who posted the fastest time and who was most often within the three fastest riders in a session, however it is unlikely that any of this will have much affect on racing and who wins the 2011 World Superbike Championship. The point of testing is just that: to see how things are working, to know what needs to be changed, and what should not be changed. In the end, who does what now makes little difference to what will happen. But it does make for a break in winter.
Final Combined Times for January 26-28 Test at Portimao:
|1.||96||Jakub Smrz||1:43.503||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing (Ducati)|
|2||4||Jonathan Rea||1:43.676||Castrol Honda|
|3.||58||Eugene Laverty||1:43.707||Yamaha WSBK Team|
|4.||66||Tom Sykes||1:43.770||Kawasaki Racing Team SBK|
|5.||7||Carlos Checa||1:43.789||Althea Racing (Ducati)|
|6.||3||Max Biaggi||1:43.840||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team|
|7.||84||Michel Fabrizio||1:43.879||Team Suzuki Alstare|
|8.||50||Sylvain Guintoli||1:44.369||Team Effenbert-Liberty Racing (Ducati)|
|9.||2||Leon Camier||1:44.446||Aprilia Alitalia Racing Team|
|10.||17||Joan Lascorz||1:44.752||Kawasaki Racing Team|
|11.||52||James Toseland||1:44.764||BMW Motorrad SBK Team|
|12.||41||Noriyuki Haga||1:44.857||PATA Racing Team Aprilia|
|13.||111||Ruben Xaus||1:44.885||Castrol Honda|
|14.||121||Maxime Berger||1:44.886||Supersonic Racing Team (Ducati)|
|15.||33||Marco Melandri||1:45.461||Yamaha WSBK Team|
|16.||86||Ayrton Badovini||1:45.678||BMW Motorrad SBK Team|
Source: WSBK; Photo: Castrol Honda