Alex Lowes and Randy de Puniet are preparing for four days at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal this week, as the Superbike World Championship sets-up camp for both round seven, the halfway point of the 2015 season, plus an official test at the circuit.
After displaying impressive pace during his home round at Donington Park in the UK last month, Lowes is expectant about his return to Portugal. Having tested the previous incarnation of his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R at the 4,592m track in January, he is keen to use his experience to continue the current development of the new ECU system. Last year saw the British racer collect 23 points from his fourth and sixth-place finishes; a feat he is hoping to better this time out.
Having never raced at Portimao, de Puniet’s only prior knowledge of the circuit comes from his 40 laps aboard his Suzuki GSX-R1000 during January’s pre-season testing. The Frenchman is hoping the positive steps made with his team during Friday practice at the last round will lay the foundations for an encouraging race weekend to come.
The Autódromo Internacional do Algarve sits in the hills less than 20kms above the coastal resort of Portimao, towards the western edge of Portugal’s Algarve. Hosting consecutive World Superbike races since the circuit’s unveiling in 2008, the ‘rollercoaster’ layout is famed for its undulating nature and 15 multi-directional turns, providing a challenging and exhilarating ride for the production class’ challengers.
Two 45-minute free practice sessions, the first of which at 11:15BST, kick-start the track action on Friday June 5th. Two further practices and the afternoon Superpole make-up Saturday’s schedule, with lights-out for Sunday’s two 20-lap races at 10:30BST and 13:10BST respectively. Voltcom Crescent Suzuki will remain at the circuit for an extra day, on Monday June 8th, to participate in the Championship’s official test.
“I really like the Portimao circuit, it’s quite fast and with the up-and-down layout it’s a bit like Cadwell Park on steroids! It’s a very physical track which requires a lot of rider input, and you also have to be very precise as off line it can be bumpy in places. My best section is the final part - the second-to-last corner is off-camber and it’s nice to slide the bike there - but my favourite corner is the final one as it’s a fast downhill-right with two apex’s and is very hard to get right. But an awesome feeling when you do! Whether it’s your first track day or going for WSBK pole you can really enjoy this place and I can’t wait to race my GSX-R there again!”
Randy de Puniet:
“I’m excited to race at Portimao because it looks like a beautiful circuit. The pre-season test in January was my first visit here but the weather was not good for us. We only managed a few laps so I understand the first and last corners, but for me it will be very much like a new track. It’s a really good layout but the surface is really bumpy so this will be critical to set-up the bike properly for the suspension. I’m hoping for some more luck this weekend: We had a really good start to the UK round but were very unlucky Saturday and Sunday, so I’m looking to start this round as we did on Friday at Donington and then to continue to improve throughout the weekend and have two good races.”