9/23/2012
 

WSBK 2012, the Portimao race


Portimao (Portugal), 23 September 2012 – At the end of an exciting weekend Max Biaggi, Eugene Laverty and the entire Aprilia Racing Team head home from Portugal having strengthened the leaderships that they boast in all of the World Superbike standings and with the satisfaction of Laverty's first championship victory astride the RSV4.

The Aprilia domination had already begun in Race 1. Declared a "Wet Race" due to the heavy showers that fell on the Portimao track all morning, letting up only just after the start, the first race saw Max Biaggi confidently taking the lead after just a few laps. But in the sixth lap, with the ranking leader firmly in command, the race was red flagged due to oil on the track after a crash. The changed track conditions at the restart created some difficulties both for Max, who gritted his teeth and crossed the finish line in fourth place, and for Laverty, relegated to 13th place, with the victory going to none other than Tom Sykes, who at that point was Max's nearest rival in the race for the title after a crash which put Marco Melandri out of commission.

Complete redemption came for Aprilia in Race 2 with two RSV4s on the podium. The victory went to Laverty who, getting out front early at the start, led all 22 laps of the race. Biaggi battled hard for the podium with Leon Camier and the 16 points he earned with third place give him a 30.5 point advantage over the nearest contender (Tom Sykes) and 38.5 over Melandri.

With this result Aprilia also strengthens its lead in the manufacturer standings, now boasting 28.5 points over BMW, 47.5 over Ducati and 66 over Kawasaki.

Max Biaggi: "Two really hard races, strange from certain points of view. In Race 1 the conditions were completely different from the practice sessions and even in Race 2 on a dry track the grip wasn't the best. Considering these difficulties and a lot of contact with the other riders, I'm happy with a fourth and third place which reconfirm my lead in the standings. Now we'll begin preparations for the last round in Magny Cours, as always putting forth our best effort".

Eugene Laverty: "My first win with and for Aprilia came on my favourite track with a lot of my fans trackside, who I'd like to thank. Grip in Race 2 wasn't perfect. I tried to push hard right away to gain an advantage and then I was able to maintain it to the end. This year we had some difficult moments, like we had in Race 1 today, but we're finally showing our potential with some good progress at the end of the season".
 

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FIFTH BEST TIME AND SECOND ROW FOR MAX BIAGGI IN THE PORTIMAO SUPERPOLE

EUGENE LAVERTY RIDES HIS RSV4 TO THE FRONT ROW BY PUTTING THE THIRD BEST TIME ON THE BOARDS IN THE DECIDING SESSION.


Portimao (Portugal), 22 September 2012 – Coming into Superpole with the best time in this morning's qualifiers (1’42,800), Max Biaggi, current leader in the World Superbike standings, improved even more in Superpole (1’42.140).

Max advanced easily through the first two Superpole sessions, improving consistently, and he continued to improve in the third and decisive session, but his time fell just 125 thousands short of placing him on the front row.
So tomorrow, for the penultimate round of the 2012 WSBK season, set to be raced on the Portimao track in Portugal, he will start from the fifth spot on the starting grid.

“I'm a bit disappointed about not making it to the front row – admitted Max Biaggi – it was a goal which was within our reach. In view of the races we aren't far off. I have a few things in mind to try and be more incisive that we'll test tomorrow during warm-ups. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the set-up and, considering the circumstances, we need to get the absolute maximum out of our bike”.

It was a positive day for Eugene Laverty, who took the third spot on the grid with a time of 1’41.789. In the last session, when only the top eight are left to battle it out for the best positions, the Northern Irishman from Aprilia Racing improved his times drastically compared both to the qualifying sessions (1’43.283) and his lap times from the first two Superpole sessions.

“We've been fast all weekend and I can honestly say that I'm happy with both the position on the grid and the feeling with my RSV4. In the second free practice session we had some excellent lap times on a race tyre so I'm quite optimistic for the races tomorrow. In Superpole I struggled with a bit of chattering when lapping on a qualifier so I'm pleased to have the third spot on the grid”.

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PLENTY OF WORK IN THE PIT AND ON THE TRACK FOR MAX BIAGGI, WHO WANTS TO LEAVE NOTHING TO CHANCE.

EUGENE LAVERTY IS OPTIMISTIC, COMFORTABLE ON THE ALGARVE TRACK.


Portimao, 21 September 2012 – The Autodromo do Algarve, one of the best liked tracks by World Superbike riders and the setting of the penultimate round of the 2012 season, did not disappoint during this first day of practice sessions. The chronology of the times put on the board, if you leave out a few exploits, points to a compact ranking with many of the riders evenly matched in terms of pace. In this situation, current ranking leader Max Biaggi tried to gather as much information as possible. The data collected today will serve as the foundation to set up the day's work tomorrow, a day which will culminate in an important Superpole session.

The seventh best qualifying time, evaluated in light of these considerations, has the Corsair looking forward to tomorrow's sessions with moderate confidence.

“A day of intense work – said Max Biaggi – The track was dirty this morning, but it improved in the afternoon. We tried a lot of things, both on a set-up level and with the tyres. This evening it will be important to carefully analyse the data and choose which path to take tomorrow. We have a few ideas which I hope will allow us to take another step toward finding a fast pace, but above all consistency”.

Eugene Laverty's Friday was characterised by consistent progress. The rider from Toomebridge still has room to grow, but the second best lap time that he put on the boards in the final moments of the afternoon session sparks hope. He improved steadily during the qualifiers after finding the right feeling with his rear tyre, an element which had caused him some problems at the Nürburgring also.

“The free practice sessions on the dirty track were quite arbitrary as is clear from everyone’s high lap times. In the afternoon we made some leaps forward, especially improving the rear tyre grip quite a bit coming out of turns, which is what I struggled with at the Nürburgring. My second place time at the end of the day shows the progress we've made. Tomorrow I think we're definitely within a shout of the front row”.
 

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PENULTIMATE ROUND OF THE WORLD SUPERBIKE SEASON, HEADED TO PORTUGAL WITH MAX BIAGGI LEADING IN THE RIDER STANDINGS AND APRILIA AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD MANUFACTURER STANDINGS.

EUGENE LAVERTY ALSO STRONGLY MOTIVATED AFTER HIS DOUBLE PODIUM IN GERMANY.



Portimao, 19 September 2012 – The Portimao round, penultimate of the 2012 World Superbike season, represents a key moment of the year for the Aprilia Racing Team and its riders. Max Biaggi, coming off of his victory at the Nürburgring which put him back at the top of the rider standings, returns to a friendly track in Portugal where he has ridden some spectacular races, like the double win in 2010.

As always, the Corsair is motivated and ready for the new challenge. His excellent performance in Germany confirmed the feeling Max has with his RSV4, a sensation which he'll need to confirm again on the ups and downs of the 'Autodromo do Algarve'.
The heated battle for final first place leaves no room for calculations or forecasts – the sole objective is a good weekend.

“The races at the Nürburgring have given us more strength – explained Max Biaggi – as well as first place in the championship. In any case this is not the time to loosen our grip – quite the contrary, given how close the standings are. As I said, every race from here to the end will be a match point and every mistake could prove to be fatal. I expect to do well at Portimao. It's a track I like and where I have always had good races, but I'm sure that our rivals will make life difficult for us”.

The two second place finishes in Germany are a good starting place for Eugene Laverty, consistently fast and by now perfectly in tune with his Aprilia RSV4. For the Northern Irish rider the last two rounds of the 2012 season could well be his best calling card for next season. The rider standings, where he is currently lying in sixth place, leave room for further improvement.

“Portimao is my favourite track on the calendar as I really enjoy the steep undulations of the circuit.  My first experience of the Aprilia RSV4 was at the Portimao circuit last October and I managed to lap very quickly so it's clear that the Aprilia works very well there.  My confidence is high following the double podium at the Nurburgring and so I aim to continue that form through to the end of the season.  The RSV4 is going from strength to strength which was evident last time out when all three Aprilias made a clean sweep of the podium in race one at Nurburgring.  I believe we can do the same again with the Portimao circuit appearing to favour our bike”.

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