WSBK Concludes Three Days of Testing in Portimao

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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:

Rider Wed #1
(16 riders)
Wed #2
(16 riders)
Thur #1
(8 riders)
Thur #2
(12 riders)
Fri #1
(14 riders)
Fri #2
(15 riders)
Tier 1
Rea 1st 2nd No time 1st 8th 11th
Xaus 6th 13th No time No time 1st 1st
Smrz 2nd 1st No time 5th 11th 12th
Checa 15th 5th 1st 3th 5th 8th
Tier 2
Fabrizio 4th 7th 6th 10th 2nd 2nd
Laverty 14th 3th 2nd 7th No time 4th
Melandri 16th 15th 7th 2th 3th 5th
Tier 3
Biaggi 3rd 6th No time No time No time No time
Haga 7th 12th 3rd 8th 9th 3rd
Tier 4
Badovini 13th 16th 4th 9th 10th 13th
Berger 10th 14th 8th 12th 13th 7th
Camier 8th 9th No time No time 14th 5th
Guintoli 11th 8th No time 4th 4th 6th
Lascorz 9th 10th No time No time 7th 10th
Sykes 5th 4th No time 6th 6th 9th
Toseland 12th 11th 5th 11th 12th 14th

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:

Pos. No. Rider Time Team
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