In the final round of the Hannspree World Superbike Championship at the brand new Portimao circuit on the Portuguese Algarve, Vent Axia VK Honda rider Gregorio Lavilla rounded off the season with a battling performance to record his second best result of the year.
After qualifying the Paul Bird Motorsport Honda in a disappointing 17th place in the weather-blighted sessions, the Spanish rider very nearly equalled his best result of the season of fourth as he scythed his way through the field in the opening race to battle with the eventual podium finishers.
However, on the final corner of the race, Greg nearly high-sided and was fired out of the seat before regaining control and crossing the line in sixth place.
There was to be no respite for Lavilla in the second race when once again, after battling with the leading group, a gearbox problem saw him drop down to eventually finish in eighth position in the race and claim twelfth in the series standings.
For team mate Chris Walker, who had looked very strong in Friday and Saturday's rain, it was to prove a disappointing end to the season as despite recording a pair of top twenty finishes, he couldn't add to his points tally after being drafted into the team towards the end of the year.
But there was still cause for celebration within the PBM team as the performances of both Lavilla and Walker netted the team the Privateers title on their first year in the championship.Greg Lavilla: "I'm very happy to end the season on a high and achieve these good results in Portimao. We have had our ups and downs this year and worked hard to set-up the bike and make valuable improvements as a team. As with anything, the more experience you have on the bike, with your team and the people you work with, things can only improve. I feel that I have done what was expected of me this year and all the team can be proud of finishing in 12th place in the championship and the first privateer team. It's a shame that I will not continue next year with the team but I have enjoyed the experience and the challenge of being part of World Superbikes again."Chris Walker: "It's been a tough weekend for me having missed out on most of the qualifying practice on Saturday. My only bike had a technical problem at the beginning of practice so I only managed five laps and was forced to sit out the rest of qualifying. I was pretty happy with the practices that I did take part in and I really enjoyed the races and the new circuit here is mega. It's been a pleasure to be part of the Birdy team and I want to thank them all for having me on board for half of the season."Paul Bird: "It's been a challenging year for us here in World Superbikes but I think we've finished off the year in a strong 12th position and the leading privateer team which I'm pretty proud of. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be in Portimao but I am happy the team finished the season on a high with the best results for the year. We look forward to our 2009 plans and being part of the World Superbike Championship once again."Race 1 - Results1, T Bayliss (Ducati) 38m48.373s, 2, C Checa (Honda) +2.207s, 3, T Corser (Yamaha) +6.972s, 4, J Rea (Honda) +15.228s, 5, F Nieto (Suzuki) +16.126s, 6, G Lavilla (Vent Axia VK Honda) +18.152s, 7, L Haslam (Honda) +18.939s, 8, R Kiyonari (Honda) +20.942s, 9, R Xaus (Ducati) +32.018s, 10, R Laconi (Kawasaki) +32.871s. 17, C Walker (Vent Axia VK Honda) +50.840s.
Race 2 - Results1, T Bayliss (Ducati) 38m26.125s, 2, M Fabrizio (Ducati) +3.638s, 3, L Haslam (Honda) +4.356s, 4, M Neukirchner (Suzuki) +4.983s, 5, F Nieto (Suzuki) +6.775s, 6, T Corser (Yamaha) +7.403s, 7, C Checa (Honda) +7.578s, 8, G Lavilla (Vent Axia VK Honda) +16.113s, 9, C Crutchlow (Honda) +16.284s, 10, R Laconi (Kawasaki) +16.446s. 19, C Walker (Vent Axia VK Honda) +34.049s.
Final Championship Standings1, Troy Bayliss (AUS) 460pts2, Troy Corser (AUS) 342pts3, Noriyuki Haga (JPN) 327pts4, Carlos Checa (ESP) 313pts5, Max Neukirchner (GER) 311pts6, Fonsi Nieto (ESP) 256pts7, Max Biaggi (ITA) 238pts8, Michel Fabrizio (ITA) 223pts9, Ryuichi Kiyonari (JPN) 206pts10, Ruben Xaus (ESP) 178pts11, Yukio Kagayama (JPN) 154pts12, Gregorio Lavilla (ESP) 135pts31, Chris Walker (GBR) 5pts