WorldSBK heads to Portimao for the finale European Round of 2022
The Motul FIM Superbike World Championship are set to complete their finale European round of the 2022 season this weekend.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) has managed to break away from the standings throughout previous rounds, so far on a streak of three race wins, his longest since his legendary run of 11 consecutive wins at the start of his rookie season in 2019.
In total, Bautista has reached 21 race wins so far in the 2022 Championship, and this weekend sees he first shot to equal his personal record of season podiums set in 2019, with 24 wins in total that year.
Although, Portimao didn’t provide the current championship leader with the best of luck in 2021 – with a fifth place in the Tissot Superpole Race, followed by a DNF in Races 1 and 2.
A hat-trick in Barcelona last round extended Bautista’s lead in the Championship standings to 59 points over Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Alvaro Bautista: “After the hat-trick we did at the Catalunya Round, I’m so motivated and I enjoyed it a lot. For sure, we will go to the next round in Portimao full of charge, not only me but also all the team. We will approach the weekend like nothing happened in the past. Portimao is a very tricky track with a lot of up and down parts and because of that, it’s not easy to find a good set up in the bike. You have a lot of different kinds of corners so it’s not easy to find a good setup for all areas of the track. But in any case, it’s a track that I enjoyed a lot in the past, winning there once with Ducati three years ago.”
Since the Autodromo International do Algarve track entered in the WorldSBK Championship in 2008, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) became the twelfth different winner in 2021, after taking the win in Race 1.
Razgatlioglu has maintained second in the Championship standings with an eight-point advantage over Jonathan Rea.
Toprak Razgatlioglu: “I like this Portimao track, but we know Jonny is very strong there. At the start of this year, we had a very positive test with very good la times, something like 1’39.6. Everyone is faster this year, so we will see. I hope for a good battle, but I need to fight for the win again, this is important. We need to keep focusing race by race.”
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is the most successful WorldSBK rider at Portimao, with 21 podium places including 13 wins, the last one being Race 2 in 2021.
Despite currently sitting third in the Championship, Rea is the rider to beat around Portimao as the current record holder for podium finishes at Autodromo International do Algarve circuit.
Jonathan Rea: “Portimao is a great circuit, one that has a lot of special memories. The first ever SBK race there in 2008, I was lucky enough to take part in my rookie Superbike race so it’s special memories. The circuit is challenging and has a lot of different characteristics from slow corners, fast corners, blind apexes, there is a lot of rider input required. The target is to have a good weekend and I really want to go back to winning ways after the start of the season, after this mid-part of the season where I had a bit of a win drought. I’m going to do my best.”
While the title fight is set between the top three riders, there is also a fierce battle going on for the top 5 spots between Aruba.it Ducati Racing’s Michael ruben Rinaldi, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK rider Andrew Locatelli, and Motocorsa Racing’s Axel Bassani.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi is currently fourth in the championship with 205 points and will be looking to secure his first ever podium at the Portimao circuit, with his current best finish at the venue being a fourth.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi: “We go to Portimao after two consecutive podiums, and I think it’s my first double podium in WorldSBK. I think that now we are strong, and pretty fast. The result in Catalunya, especially for the team because we made a 1-2, created a good atmosphere and the motivation higher than ever. I think this can help us for the Portimao weekend. I keep working to be fast always, and my plan is to fight for the podium also in Portimao.”
Andrea Locatelli was a podium finisher at Portimao in 2021 with a third place in Race 2, and with only three points separating him and Bassani, Locatelli will be fighting hard for another podium finish to his name.
Andrea Locatelli: “Last year in Portimao was not so bad, it was my first year with the R1 WorldSBK there, so for sure it will not be easy because it is a difficult track to learn but the confidence, I have with the bike is very good now. We will do another long run-on Friday afternoon and then we will see. We will try to take home some good points because we need it for the Championship, and to continue in a strong way to finish in the season.”
Sitting sixth in the Championship, Bassani has hit the ground running in the second half of the 2022 Championship increasing the number of podium finishes to his name each round.
In 2021, Bassani finished all three races in the top ten, finishing seventh in Race 1 and in the Tissot Superpole Race.
Axel Bassani: “For the next race in Portimao, I don’t know what to expect because last year was difficult. But this year, we arrive with a different setup so I think we can do a good job, a good weekend. I hope to continue in this way and to finish every race in the top five, and to take the fifth place in the Championship before starting the overseas races. I’m happy now, I feel good with the team and we are ready for the last races of the year.”