WSBK: 2009 Portimao test results

Teams prepare for 2010 season

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Oct. 28, 2009
Days after Ben Spies’ World Superbike title victory, the WSBK paddock returned to the track for two days of testing to prepare for the 2010 season.

The champion Spies did not take part as he is moving on to MotoGP, but a number of new faces with new teams put in their laps at the Portimao Circuit in Portugal Oct. 27-28.

Riding Spies’ R1 was the man he’s replacing in the Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP team, James Toseland. A two-time WSBK champion with Ducati (2004) and Honda (2007), Toseland is trying to be the first man to win three titles with three different teams in 2010. In his first test on the R1, Toseland was in the middle of the pack with the eighth best time out of 14 riders. It was a fair effort for his Superbike return after two seasons in MotoGP.

Yamaha let MotoGP rider James Toseland test with its WSBK team at Portimao.

“I like the bike, it’s so much different to what I’m used to though so it’s taking some time to tame the beast!” says Toseland. “When you ride a heavier bike you have to take your time to find its limits. One thing I didn’t want to do was crash as I’ve got another GP to race next week. I’m really pleased with the team, and looking forward to testing again as soon as possible.”

Toseland was a second off the pace of his new teammate, 2009 World Supersport Champion Cal Crutchlow who also made his debut on the R1.

“I think we’ve worked hard looking at a few different things with the shocks,” says Crutchlow who recorded the third best time. “We haven’t changed that much yet so we’ve got some work to do. We’ve changed a couple of things and had a play around with the electronics which has been good. Hopefully we’ll keep working hard, the team has done a good job and I’m pleased with the first test.”

One team that isn’t changing its riders for 2010 is Ducati Xerox. Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio helped Ducati capture its 16th manufacturers’ title but Haga once again fell short of his first riders’ title. Despite the disappointment of losing the title on the final round, Haga was back at work preparing for next season. Haga tested a new clutch but found a new fork to be lacking.

“Today we tried the new front fork and it felt quite similar to the one I use already but overall I prefer the one I have used up until now, the new one didn’t give me anything extra,” says Haga. “I worked with the new clutch which is a bit of a different concept but it gave me a good feeling and it definitely has potential. I’m happy with how it’s gone here but to be honest I’m ready to go home as it’s been a long week.”

Haga recorded the seventh best time while Fabrizio was second fastest.

Noriyuki Haga puts the disappointing finish to the 2009 season behind him as he prepares for 2010.

The top time was recorded by Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea. The Irishman had a strong finish to his 2009 season with a pair of podium results at Portimao. Rea continued that success with a time of 1:42.156 to lead all riders.

“I just want to say how really, really proud I am of the whole team, who have worked so hard over the last weeks,” says Rea. “They’ve gone through this test positively and methodically and got the bike working better. The great thing is that there is still so much potential and that just fills me with confidence for next season.”

Rea was joined by his new teammate, Max Neukirchner who had an injury-riddled 2009 season with Suzuki Alstare. Neukirchner completed 70 laps over the two days of testing, his first time on a bike since July.

“I did 70 laps on both days of the test, including runs of 16 laps so I’m quite tired after being off a bike for six months,” says Neukirchner. “I’ve been training hard at home, but riding a bike is quite different and I know I’ve got a lot more work to do! However, I am really happy with the way this test has gone and on the second day I could feel that the pace was definitely coming, lap by lap. I got a really good feeling with the bike and the team.”

Over at Neukirchner’s former team, Leon Haslam took his first laps with Suzuki Alstare on the GSX-R1000. Haslam was joined by former British Superbike racer Sylvain Guintoli who made his debut with the team at the Portimao round.

“This bike is quite different to the Crescent Suzuki I rode in the British Superbike Championship and my first job last Friday was to begin working on this bike and getting comfortable with it,” says Guintoli. “Every time out, my feeling for the bike improves and it’s great that we are going forward all the time. It has been very interesting today and we’ve found out a lot about the bike.”

Tom Sykes rode his first test session with the Paul Bird Kawasaki team. Spies’ former teammate officially joined Kawasaki during the test. Sykes raced to a respectable ninth in the 2009 season standings but his results were overshadowed by Spies’ success. In 2010, Sykes will ride the Kawasaki ZX-10R alongside Chris Vermeulen who currently races for the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team.

“I’m very excited to join Kawasaki and the Paul Bird team,” says Sykes. “I have worked with Paul before and the team is full of very capable people. It is good for me to be still working with a manufacturer and I see a lot of potential in the project.”

Aprilia’s Max Biaggi was fifth in the time sheet and he was joined by Leon Cormier on the RSV4.

BMW was the only manufacturer from the 2009 season not to participate in the two-day test.