WorldSBK made early visits to Portugal in 1988 and 1993, featuring four races at the Estoril track. The Championship returned to Portugal in 2008 at the Algarve International Circuit near Portimão.
Jonathan Rea‘s connection with Portimao is legendary: the venue saw him make his WorldSBK debut and he’s the only rider to have competed in all 29 WorldSBK races there. With 24 podium finishes and 13 wins, he’s the undisputed record holder.
PORTIMAO HOT SPOTS WITH JONATHAN REA
T1/ “Into T1… you can’t see it. So, you’re accelerating down the straight, shifting into sixth gear, and it’s like falling off a cliff. Braking downhill is complicated enough because the rear wants to come up off the ground. So you’re trying to balance that point of going over the top into the dip, and then managing the brake pressure at the bottom so you don’t completely bottom out. T1 and T2 are really nice because it’s back to second gear for T1. If I can lower the rear positively, then I can maintain good grip around T1 and T2, because there’s a gear shift to first between T2 and T3.”
T4-5/ “You’ve got to think of T4 as a corner to build speed in, so you forget about entering too fast and focus on your exit from T3. You think about not using too much of the track on the exit, maybe even less than 50% sometimes. T4 is another corner that’s completely blind. You go in there, and it’s going uphill again. There is negative camber, so the grip level drops, but you can’t see the outside curb until you’re pretty much upright. It’s so blind!”
T11/ “I call this the balcony because it’s like you go up and across it and then drop down again. So going up into this T10/T11, the balcony is blind again. You need to do all your turning and sacrifice a little bit of corner speed at T9 so you can be on the correct line for T10/T11. I always try to flick it into T10 and get some ‘backing-in’ and use the rear engine braking to help turn the bike a little bit, then coast back to the apex of T11. That’s a little bit like T3; you have to hit the apex and not use too much track on the exit to carry speed into T12. I’m using 50-60% of the track.”
Ducati is just two wins short of the best ever value recorded by a manufacturer in a single season. It’s themselves: they won 24 times in 2003 and 23 in 1991; this year they have won 22 races so far.
Alvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) currently leads the Championship with 504 points, but his closest rival, Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK), is hot on his heels with 457 points, narrowing the gap to just 47 points. In a season defined by relentless competition, Bautista must maintain his performance to secure the title. To become the 2023 WorldSBK Champion at Portimao, he must ensure that Razgatlioglu is 62 points or more behind him after the Round.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is a legendary figure at Portimao with 13 wins to his name. With 328 points, he’s currently 176 points behind Bautista but remains a force to be reckoned with. His statistics at Portimao suggest that he could be a disruptive force between the top two, further intensifying the Championship battle.
Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) has had a strong season and has consistently been in the mix for top positions in races. However, his recent appearance at Aragon presented some challenges as faced an unfortunate retirement due to a technical issue in Race 2 at Aragon. He will be eager to bounce back from this disappointment but, it’s worth noting that Locatelli will face an additional challenge at Portimao as he has a back-of-the-grid start for Race 1 due to not adhering to the orange disk black flag during the technical issue at Aragon.
Bautista’s teammate Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) had a remarkable performance at the recent Aragon Round, securing a solid victory in Race 1. As the season progresses, Rinaldi is determined to continue this strong form and build on his successes.