marco melandri tom sykes wsbk portimao 2013

BMW Motorrad added another circuit to the list of tracks it was victorious at in the FIM Superbike World Championship. The BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK Team and factory rider, Marco Melandri (ITA), celebrated victory in the first of today’s races at Portimão (POR). It was Marco´s second and the team´s fourth victory of the season. An absolutely brilliant weekend for Aprilia as they take a fantastic double win on the Portuguese Portimão track: in Race 2 Laverty won ahead of his team mate Guintoli, who strengthens his hold on the championship leadership, thanks in part to the second place he took in race 1. With this victory Laverty clinches third place in a world championship that is quickly becoming an Aprilia branded event. Only hard luck kept the spoils from being even richer. In fact, in Race 1 Laverty was held up by a technical problem while leading a race at a pace impossible for his rivals to match.

The script for Race 2 had Eugene Laverty running away from the first lap, highly motivated to redeem himself and supported well by his RSV4. His pace soon overcame Rea’s tenaciousness, while Sykes, hindered by repeated technical problems which had begun during the warm-up lap, was forced to withdraw. Another clever race by Guintoli, careful and focused on race distance, so much that he overtook Melandri first and then Rea with surgical passes. The pair of official RSV4s crossed the finished line alone, with Laverty ahead of Guintoli. In race two, Marco struggled with rear tyre wear issues and finished 12th. His team-mate Chaz Davies (GBR) finished a difficult first race in sixth place. For race two, he and his crew improved the set-up of the BMW S 1000 RR which meant Chaz felt more comfortable and finished fifth. After six rounds of the 2013 season, Marco is fourth in the riders championship with 156 points, directly followed by Chaz who is fifth with 133 points. Guintoli is widening the gap up front, with 28 points over Sykes and 39 ahead of teammate Laverty. Aprilia continues to dominate the Manufacturer standings with a 42 point advantage in front of BMW, 44 ahead of Kawasaki, 141 over Honda, 149 above Suzuki and 171 in front of Ducati.

Race one was an exciting thriller. After starting from fourth place on the grid, Marco improved to second soon after the start, right behind leader Tom Sykes (GBR). He dropped back to third place on lap three when Eugene Laverty (IRL) overtook him. Halfway through the race, Laverty was forced to retire, and almost simultaneously, Marco took the lead from Sykes. Over the next few laps, Sykes was pushing from the back and the gap to Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) in third declined. Entering lap 17, Sykes passed Marco with a close manoeuvre and the Italian BMW factory rider had to take evasive action and leave the track to avoid a collision. As a consequence, he dropped back to third but began to catch up straight away. On lap 19 of 22, Marco overtook Sykes and Guintoli to take the lead, however the Frenchman fought back successfully. Entering the final lap, Marco retook the lead. It was hard work for Marco to defend it, but in the end he crossed the finish line with an advantage of 0.007 seconds in front of Guintoli – the fourth closest finish ever in the history of the Superbike World Championship. Chaz, who started from 12th place, lost two positions at the start and had to fight battles in the middle field during the beginning stages of the race. Over the course of the race he gained positions as his race pace was close to the leaders, but he was too far back to fight for the podium and he finished in sixth place.

Thanks to Race 2 it was an absolutely brilliant weekend for Aprilia as they take a fantastic double win on the Portuguese Portimão track: in Race 2 Laverty won ahead of his team mate Guintoli, who strengthens his hold on the championship leadership, thanks in part to the second place he took in race 1. Marco experienced excessive wear on his rear tyre from the very beginning. During the early laps he was able to hold third position, but from the eighth lap onwards he started to drop back. Without the correct level of grip, he was unable to fight back against his competitors and lost positions and after 22 tough laps he finished 12th. Meanwhile Chaz was feeling a lot better on his RR in comparison to race one. He made a good start and improved from 12th to eighth soon after the start of the race. He overtook Davide Giugliano (ITA) on lap three to take seventh place and then fought a long battle with Giugliano and Carlos Checa (ESP). On lap 12, he improved to sixth place by passing the struggling Marco, and on the penultimate lap Chaz overtook Checa to secure fifth place before the chequered flag.

wsbk portimao race winners

Marco Melandri

“To win in race one was not easy because at the beginning I was struggling a lot with the traction but after ten laps this improved and it was easier for me so I got closer to the front again. When I was leading, it was very difficult, because it was very windy so it was hard to stay in front. When Tom passed me, he closed the line. Maybe he thought he was in front of me but he just pushed me out of the track. When I came back, I did not have any plan so I just pushed as much as I could. I tried to overtake Tom very quickly because Sylvain was very fast and tried to pull away. When I caught Guintoli I took the opportunity to pass him. The last lap is very difficult to explain, it was just very close and I pushed as much as I could. I am so happy and thank you to everyone at BMW. In race two, I could certainly have been on the podium but instead the rear tyre began to vibrate from lap two onwards. From lap three I started losing grip and then the tyre deteriorated. As a consequence the whole bike started to vibrate and it was difficult to ride. I did the best I could do in that situation. Now I am looking forward to Imola.”

Chaz Davies

“Race one was kind of frustrating. My start was not particularly good and for the first few laps I was in the wrong company and I lost a lot of time. It did not ruin my race but it did not allow me to finish in a position that we were capable of. In the middle of the race, my pace was not too far off the guys in front so it would have been nice to have gone away with them. In the closing stages, we had a drop of performance as we started to lack a little bit of grip, also in the front where we were using the harder front tyre for stability purposes. For race two, we took a couple of gambles as honestly we did not have a lot to lose. We changed the front and the rear tyre and also changed the suspension a little bit. And in fact race two was much better than the first. I was much happier with the bike even if I did not quite have the grip that I wanted, especially on the first two laps. But then I found some grip from lap three onwards. Again, we have learnt something a little bit too late which is frustrating but in general we showed a better performance in race two, even if it not was good enough. So I would say that I am `semi-happy´.”

Eugene Laverty

“Race 1 seems to be cursed for us this year, especially on tracks like this one and Aragon where I had the right pace to take a double win. In any case I’m not one to complain. The important thing is to always start off with sights set high and to strike back when hard luck strikes. I was really trying hard for this win and I’m pleased to have been able to do it dominating from the first to last lap. I’m in the running for the Championship even with a few too many races with no points, but we are growing race by race and I’m confident about the upcoming rounds”.

Sylvain Guintoli

“In Race 1 I started off cautiously, trying to look after the tyres. This strategy helped me fight down to the last thousandths. It was a shame to have victory slip through my fingers, but I’m pleased with the way I managed the race. I had a few indecisions at the beginning of Race 1 but I quickly found my pace to finish the race well. After overtaking Rea I pushed to widen the gap, even risking a bit in the last turn, but unfortunately everything went well and we are leaving Portimão with some important spoils for the Championship”.

Tom Sykes

“I expected the first race to be just as close as it was, and obviously the guys who finished first and second were riding really strongly, but I was struggling a little bit with race performance. But we made a good podium and scored good points. Portimao is not one of my strongest circuits and still we could fight for the win. In race two the fall was my fault because in turn one on my out lap I ran over the kerbstone on the inside. The piece of kerbstone looked quite flat but in the last moment I realised it was a big high kerb and it chucked me over the front of the bike. The bike flipped, landed on me and it was a big crash. It hurt my right leg and gave me a headache. We had made improvements on the bike for race two and we proved that was the case because we went on to break the lap record. I was just riding to the limits of the bike in each race. This is my worst circuit but in both races we raced to the limit of the package and it felt easier to do this record lap time in race two. I feel I have let a few people down but I do not want to be too hard on myself as it is the first mistake I have made for a long time.”

Loris Baz

“Race two was a good one and I made a good start like I did in race one. I tried to go with Sylvain Guintoli but I could not follow him. I pushed in the race but when I saw Sylvain going away I dropped the pace a little. Top five is always our target but I think we could have made an even better result than fifth in race one. I lost only one position early on in that race but I felt that the bike did not have the same feeling with the rear as we had in practice and when I passed Carlos Checa I could not push like I wanted. In race two Melandri had a problem and I caught him fast so that was a good race for me. Overall two positive races and we made up points to Chaz Davies in table. If you look where we started on Friday we made a big improvement on race day.”

Carlos Checa

“In race 1 I was able to keep pace with those ahead of me for the first six or seven laps. From mid-race on I started to gradually lose some grip and that, combined with a tired left shoulder in the final stages, unfortunately prevented me from maintaining seventh position to the line. We made small changes before race 2 and as a result the bike was much easier to ride, especially when it came to changing direction. It was the first time I was able to maintain a good pace for the entire race and I’m very happy with the result. I want to thank my entire team that has worked so hard every weekend up until now, I appreciate all that they are doing — this sixth position motivates us to continue to improve in the next races.”

WSBK Portimao results

Race 1

  1. Marco Melandri -BMW S1000 RR
  2. Sylvain Guintoli -Aprilia RSV4
  3. Tom Sykes -Kawasaki ZX-10R
  4. Leon Camier -Suzuki GSX-R1000
  5. Loris Baz -Kawasaki ZX-10R
  6. Chaz Davies -BMW S1000 RR
  7. Michel Fabrizio -Aprilia RSV4
  8. Jules Cluzel -Suzuki GSX-R1000
  9. Carlos Checa -Ducati 1199
  10. Federico Sandi -Kawasaki ZX-10R
  11. DNF Alex Lundh -Kawasaki ZX-10R

Race 2

  1. Eugene Laverty -Aprilia RSV4
  2. Sylvain Guintoli -Aprilia RSV4
  3. Jonathan Rea -Honda CBR1000RR
  4. Loris Baz -Kawasaki ZX-10R
  5. Chaz Davies -BMW S1000 RR
  6. Carlos Checa -Ducati 1199
  7. Jules Cluzel -Suzuki GSX-R1000
  8. Ayrton Badovini -Ducati 1199
  9. Davide Giugliano -Aprilia RSV4
  10. Michel Fabrizio -Aprilia RSV4
  11. Federico Sandi -Kawasaki ZX-10R
  12. Alex Lundh -Kawasaki ZX-10R