TESTING IN THE RAIN
Xaus and his Honda surf in Portimao
Seven drivers registered for the 2011 World Superbike met in Portugal on the superb Portimao track for their final tests of the year. After facing a downpour for two days, Ruben Xaus takes the lead again.
Braving the terrible weather that has just swept the southern tip of Portugal – and a good part of Europe -, seven mercenary riders of the 2011 World Superbike who came to test their machines in Portimao chained the circuit and lowered the lap times !
The times are not official, but they are still published by the championship promoter FG Sport. They will therefore serve as a reference (see the times at the bottom of the page).
Soon the French…
|Our rookie Maxime Berger was supposed to ride in Portimao but his team, given the forecast forecast, preferred not to make the trip. We will therefore have to wait a few weeks to see Max’s debut in the Mondial SBK on his Ducati 1098R Supersonic. Ditto for Sylvain Guintoli on his Ducati prepared by the Liberty Racing team: strongly 2011 !|
At the top of the timesheet is Ruben Xaus: a veteran in the discipline, the Spaniard is nonetheless a new recruit within the Honda Ten Kate team and therefore pleasantly surprises. Naturally, his best lap was a long way from pole slammed by Cal Crutchlow during the Portuguese event in 2010. But he has every reason to be happy about his baptism on the Fireblade. !
Ruben Xaus "very, very happy!"
"In Spanish, there are several terms for the word "content": there is "contento" and then there is "feliz", which I am now. Yeah, I’m really, really happy", explains Ruben, a true expert in languages - he speaks several languages including Spanish, English, Italian and French..
Xaus didn’t have to upset the Honda’s settings to be comfortable there: "I haven’t adjusted anything on the bike, neither the handlebars, nor the rest", he reveals humbly. The n ° 111 and its CBR1000RR were therefore able to quickly get to work and in two days, the new shocking duo completed 114 laps of the track !
"Of course, I would have liked to have had more time in the dry – more than my 10 or 15 laps anyway – but everyone is in the same boat", consoles the fastest driver of these tests who considers that he has never turned so well in Portimao in the wet.
Xaus therefore passes his entrance exam with flying colors: "it’s like I got an A, and now we’re aiming for the A+". Will the turbulent Ruben be able to confirm his first good results in the next tests – at Aragon at the start of next year – and then throughout the season? !
Leon Haslam also had to adapt to a new machine: after securing second place in the 2010 championship riding a Suzuki GSX-R 1000 devoid of any support from the Hamamatsu crest (read our), the English went on a BMW S1000RR pampered by the Munich bosses (read).
Leon Haslam on the S1000RR
So Leon and his teammate, the "good old" Troy Corser, not only got to test new brakes and new geometry, but also a new Öhlins fork. "originally developed for MotoGP", the Germans boast !
Three tenths slower than Xaus in the end, Haslam Junior – "Daddy Ron" was there too and did a few laps on the BMW! – was "the fastest Monday morning in the wet and the fastest on a drying track in the afternoon", he would like to point out.
Not at all focused on the chronometer – although he is an excellent stallion – the n ° 91 is apparently happy with his Portuguese tests which followed Spanish tests: his team, Troy and he were in Jerez at the end of last week for work for three days … including two of rain! p> Previously, Haslam and Corser had done wind tunnel sessions: the speed record of Max Biaggi and his Aprilia RSV4, not to mention their double world title, would they have tickled – scratched, itchy or even irritated? – the competitive fiber of Béhème ?
BMW the knife between the teeth
The answer is definitely "yes": together with James Toseland and Ayrton Badovini, members of the new BMW Italia team, the two official drivers Corser and Haslam also took part in an intensive sporting trip. Definitely, we do not take the 2011 season lightly at BMW !
Toseland was also one of the seven brave drivers to challenge the rain, the cold and the wind at the start of the week. The two-time world champion took advantage of the presence of the BMW development team to steal his S1000RR from Steve Martin and make his first laps on the handlebars of the German bomb.
In the end, "DjiTi" shares last place in the standings with Noriyuki Haga and his new Aprilia RSV4. But it will be necessary to wait until these two great pilots have received their final machines – and can operate them in more lenient conditions – to get a precise idea of their competitiveness..
Jonathan Rea 3rd
Third in the tests, Jonathan Rea made his real return to the handlebars of his CBR n ° 65 since his fall at Imola (read). Wounded wrist and collarbone, Irishman – from the North! – had participated in the final of Magny-Cours physically diminished, but now seems to have found all his means.
According to his team, the driver Ten Kate was even on Monday evening at the top of the timesheet. "The weather conditions have certainly benefited me", admits Johnny,"but it’s still frustrating because I didn’t want to do too many laps under this weather and turn in a wrong rhythm".
Jonathan therefore preferred not to drive on the second day, while remaining on site in order to guide Xaus in his discovery of the Honda. Help that has proven to be very valuable and devilishly effective !
Michel Fabrizio alone in his box
Alone in his box, however, Michel Fabrizio continued his training on the GSX-R 1000 of the Alstare team. During his 70 laps – including one in 1’56.9, the same time as Rea -, the Italian tried to put on slick tires … but the rain immediately reappeared !
"It wasn’t so bad when the track was wet, as I was able to use the wet tires and test their grip level, pretty good", declares Hurricane Mich ‘. Most often tricky because"mostly dry but with wet areas, usually on bends", the Portuguese track did not allow the n ° 84 to try everything it should have.
He will therefore have to wait for the new year to refine the settings of his new bike. Like his six comrades, Michel will finally be able to "take a break and spend some time with family". Biaggi, Camier, Melandri and Laverty, on the other hand, had to work a few extra hours: the official Aprilia and Yamaha riders were still on the track last night … at Phillip Island! Stay tuned!…
Unofficial chronicles of the tests in Portimao (29 and 30 November 2010)
- Ruben Xaus (ESP) – Honda CBR1000RR: 1 ‘55.8
- Leon Haslam (GBR) – BMW S1000RR: 1 ‘56.1
- Jonathan Rea (IRL) – Honda CBR1000RR: 1 ‘56.9
- Michel Fabrizio (ITA) – Suzuki GSX-R 1000: 1 ‘56.9
- Troy Corser (AUS) – BMW S1000RR: 1 ‘57.1
- James Toseland (GBR) – BMW S1000RR: 1 ‘58.2
- Noriyuki Haga (JAP) – Aprilia RSV4 Factory: 1 ‘58.2
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