Ahead of the World Supersport season-opening Phillip Island race in Australia three weeks ago, Parkalgar-Honda team manager Simon Buckmaster was bullish about the chances of his principal rider Eugene Laverty – and with reason.
The No50 bike took the chequered flag over four seconds ahead of pole starter Joan Lascorz, with the equally highly rated Kenan Sofuoglu only in third.
“Great performance, but I don’t think they will all pan out as easy as that, but we all enjoyed a great start for the team with Miguel Praia (second rider) equalling his best result in ninth,” said Buckmaster then.
From today (Friday), Laverty and company return to action at their own Motor Park circuit in what promises to be a sunny and spectacular weekend of world class motor sport in the Algarve.
“We move to our home track round in Portimão in confident mood for both riders and once again for the win I only expect a challenge from Lascorz and Sofuoglu,” said Buckmaster. “I think practice and race results will be very similar. Not like at Phillip Island, where although Joan and Kenan had a quicker practice lap than us, we had concentrated on the race tyre and knew we had great race pace.”
Laverty currently leads the championship by five and nine points from Lascorz and Ssofuoglu, but pedigree suggests that France’s Fabien Foret and Briton Gino Rea will also be involved in the finish come Sunday afternoon.
Of course the weekend also features the principal Superbike class in which the Ducati Xerox team is likely to feature prominently. Having already tested at Portimão earlier this year, albeit in wet and windy conditions, both championship contenders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio are looking to boost their point tallies considerably.
Fabrizio is currently second behind Leon Haslam in the championship and won in Portimão last year.
“We made a good start a few weeks ago – it’s a pity I lost out on the win but the racing was great fun; it sure was a close finish! Now we move to Portimão, another track I really enjoy racing, and I need to consolidate the strong start because this year will inevitably be a very long and hard-fought competition,” he said.
Together with team mate Haga, lying in fourth, the Ducati duo will be pushed all the way this weekend not only by Haslam but also by Spain’s talented Carlos Checa, leaving little doubt that the international Autódromo of the Algarve is the place to be this weekend!