Portimao Private WSBK Test, Sunday: Laverty Leads After Weather Clears

The World Superbike testing season has gotten off to a slow start, with the weather around Portimao apparently unwilling to cooperate. Heavy overnight rain left the circuit wet on Sunday morning, but conditions improved enough for the riders present to fit slicks in the afternoon and start to work on set up.

Fastest man of the day was Eugene Laverty on the Voltcom Suzuki, the Irishman benefiting from the work already done at Almeria last week, and continuing the work on chassis balance, suspension and electronics settings. Laverty posted a time two tenths faster than Marco Melandri, the man who took Laverty's place at Aprilia. It was a small but satisfying victory in what is likely to be a fierce rivalry, if the Suzuki continues its current pace of improvement.

The Ducati, too, showed much improvement, Davide Giugliano just three tenths behind Laverty, and Chaz Davies in fifth a tenth slower than his new teammate. After a difficult first year racing the Panigale, times so far appear much closer to the front.

Most impressive performance of the day was by Alex Lowes. The reigning BSB champion had never ridden at Portimao before, and was forced to learn the track in the wet. But within a few hours, Lowes was lapping just three tenths off the pace of Laverty, setting the fourth fastest time of the day.

Times from Sunday, courtesy of GPOne.com:

Pos No Rider Team/Bike Time Diff Diff prev
1 50 Eugene Laverty Voltcom Suzuki 1:43.4    
2 33 Marco Melandri Factory Aprilia 1:43.6 0.2 0.2
3 34 Davide Giugliano Factory Ducati 1:43.7 0.3 0.1
4 22 Alex Lowes Voltcom Suzuki 1:43.7 0.3 0.0
5 19 Chaz Davies Factory Ducati 1:43.8 0.4 0.1
6 65 Jonathan Rea Pata Honda 1:43.9 0.5 0.1
7 91 Leon Haslam Pata Honda 1:44.4 1.0 0.5
8 20 Sylvain Barrier BMW Evo 1:45.1 1.7 0.7
9 11 Jeremy Guarnoni Kawasaki Evo 1:45.6 2.2 0.5
10 66 Alex Hoffmann Aprilia, tester 1:45.7 2.3 0.1
11 71 Claudio Corti MV Agusta 1:46.0 2.6 0.3


Tweet Button: 

Back to top


Well, Laverty starts 2014 as he ended 2013, with being fastest. Looking at several good performances by Jules Cluzel and Leon Camier last year (wasn't it at Silverstone where they were both leading the race?), I think the Suzuki GSX-R1000 might be better than a lot of people think. Also, the bike is often called 'old' or 'outdated' by commentators, while actually it is younger than the Fireblade, for instance. It was completely new for 2009 and updated for 2012, so that is not different from the Aprilia and the Yamaha (in their base form also from 2009) or the BMW (officially from 2010, but running in Superbikes since 2009). I think it is more the uninspired styling of the last few generations that makes it look old.

Still, pre-season testing has more than once proved to be misleading, so we'll have to wait and see when racing starts.

But what is Guintoli going to do? I thought he was staying with Aprilia? I see that Laverty is back to using his old number 50 again, so is Guintoli now going to use the 3 he earned last year? That would be cool.

how much of the seemingly increased performance of the Suzuki may be due to the new WSB rules? For Laverty's sake I hope the bike/rules allow him to be competitive in 2014, looking good so far.

Remember these guys are two seconds off lap record pace, largely due to conditions, I suspect. Not sure the rules package would account for the differences; the bikes aren't that different from 2013. Engine quantities will be largest difference in the spec. Right now, these times are closer to 600 Supersport from last year. We'll see how the order shakes out as the times drop.