Sunday, January 25, 2009

Portimao test - Superpole simulation

Shane Byrne has made it a clean sweep of fastest times as the first World Superbike test of the 2009 season came to a close with a simulation of the new 'Superpole' format.

Adopting a Formula 1-style knockout system for 2009, organisers allowed the 20 fastest riders from yesterday's afternoon session to participate, eliminating the four slowest initially before splitting the group from 16 to the final eight. This method will be adopted for the remainder of the year.

British riders featured well, with Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam posting the third and fifth quickest times respectively, the pair being split by Max Neukirchner in second and Noriyuki Haga in fourth.

One lap specialist Troy Corser proved his qualifying skills transfer well to the new format as he hauled BMW into sixth position for easily their most convincing showing yet, while Yukio Kagayama and DFX's Regis Laconi also made an appearance in the mock 'shootout'

In addition, the flag-to-flag practice was included in the very last practice session of all three days, with riders coming in to change to their spare bikes when the signal was given, without any interruption of the simulated race session.

Previously, eight riders had been eliminated from the running, including the Hondas of Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari, the Yamahas of Ben Spies and Tom Sykes, the Aprilias of Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano, as well as Michel Fabrizio and Jakub Smrz.

Broc Parkes, David Salom, Alex Polita and Brendan Roberts were cut following the first session.

Biaggi finished 11th and Nakano 12th in the final rankings.

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