MotoGP Portimao test round-up
A day for the history books done and dusted in Portugal as MotoGP bikes lapped around the Portimao Circuit in the Algarve for the very first time. No fewer than 22 riders were on track throughout the day with full-time premier class riders lapping on stock production-based machinery for track familiarisation whilst test riders, plus Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaró were able to tackle the tricky “Rollacoster” Circuit as it’s known on full-blown MotoGP bikes.
At the end of the day it was Aprilia Racing’s Aleix who topped the timesheets. Aprilia, being the only factory to still hold concessions were allowed to test using their full MotoGP spec racebikes and the Spanish star put it to good use by posting the fastest two-wheeled lap time ever recorded at the circuit with a 1,40.170, faster than Johnny Rea’s all-time fastest Superpole time of a 1,40.372. Not bad for the first time out on the track, but then again, it is a full-blown MotoGP beast, so we should have expected that.
His Aprilia teammate Bradley Smith was a second adrift in second place on the timesheets for the day, giving the Noale Factory some valuable information heading into the rest of the season and the final race held at the Portimao circuit on the 22nd of November.
Ducati test rider Michele Pirro was the only rider to set his fastest time in the morning session when the track was slightly dirtier, with the Italian ending 1.5 seconds off the pace. Honda’s Stefan Bradl closed the day out in 4th ahead of KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa who finished the day off 2.2 seconds off the pace after his first visit to the Portuguese circuit.
Former World SBK champion Sylvain Guintoli made a return to the track he had raced on many times in the WSBK championship and ended up 2.3 seconds off the pace on the Suzuki MotoGP bike.
The timesheets were rounded out by Yamaha’s 5-time World champion test rider Jorge Lorenzo who was finally back on a MotoGP bike for the first time since Sepang in early Februar
When it came to the full-time MotoGP riders only 3 flashed up on the timing screens, with Maverick Vinales on his Yamaha R1M machine fastest with a 1,43.699. Portugal’s home hero, Miguel Oliviera was a second adrift of Vinales on his R1 machine with fellow KTM rider Brad Binder a further tenth off on Oliviera seniors borrowed 2015 spec R1 machine. Brad, as many of the riders, saying afterwards that he enjoyed the track, but it is demanding and is going to be tricky on a MotoGP bike.
Both Rossi and Morbidelli arrived at the track slightly later than the others but were able to kit up and get some laps in around the track for the first time on their Yamaha R1M machines.
Ducati riders Dovizioso and Petrucci were out on the closest production bike to a MotoGP machine, the R1.7m Ducati Superleggera, while Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller was out on his gorgeous V4R machine, having loaded it in his van and driven to the circuit all by himself to take part. All Ducati riders did say afterwards that the track is going to prove to be very tricky for their Bologna Bullets come race day in November.
Suzuki pair, Joan Mir and Alex Rins were also in attendance both onboard Suzuki GSXR1000R machines with both believing their blue MotoGP machines could gel very well with the Portimao circuit.
Repsol Honda’s Alex Marquez had a Honda RCV213S production bike at his disposal as he got to grips with the 4.7km track.