WSBK Portimao test results

Privateer sets track record, Spies close in second

By Motorcycle.Com Staff, Jan. 26, 2009
Sterilgarda Ducati’s Shane Byrne set a new track record with the fastest lap in the rain-soaked World Superbike test at Portimao, Portugal Jan. 23-25.

Byrne’s best time, 1:43.294 was 0.046 seconds faster than the previous track record set by Troy Bayliss. Byrne, the 2008 British Superbike Champion set the new record in the dry Saturday session. Byrne also set the fastest time in the Friday tests.

“I didn’t expect to be fastest in the test to be honest but I’m not surprised,” says Byrne. “The bike’s working really well and the relationship and feedback with the team and my engineer is great.”

Ben Spies set the second fastest overall time, also on the Saturday test session. The Yamaha Motor Italia rider was two tenths of a second off of Byrne’s record time and 0.144 seconds off of Bayliss’ previous record. Spies continues to record impressive times in just his third outing on Yamaha’s new YZF-R1.

“We worked on some settings over the test and got down to some pretty quick times. We got to try a few things with the bike and made a big step up, taking half a second a lap off, but the weather didn’t allow us to get more,” says Spies. “The bike’s got good straight line speed now and we’re continually improving. I’m very confident we’ve got what it takes to win.”

The three-day test gave the riders a chance to try WSBK’s new Superpole qualifying format. Starting with the 2009 season, riders will compete in a knockout-style series of sessions. The first round will feature the top 20 riders from the initial qualifying session. The top 16 move onto the second session and then eight riders will advance to the final round.

In a simulation of the new Superpole format, Byrne came on top again to qualify first ahead of Alstare Suzuki’s Max Neukirchner. Hannspree Ten Kate Honda’s Jonathan Rea qualified third and Ducati Xerox rider Noriyuki Haga was fourth to complete the first row.