It was Jules Cluzel who fired the opening shots in what promises to be an intriguing battle for the 2019 Supersport World Championship title, as the GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team rider posted the fastest time after two intensive days of testing at the Autódromo Internacional Algarve in Portimao.
Cluzel, three times a runner up in the WorldSSP Championship, was on the pace from the off aboard his GMT94 Yamaha YZF-R6, posting the fastest time on the opening day of the test, having quickly mastered the cool and blustery conditions at the Portimão circuit.
The Frenchman continued his fast and consistent form to top the timesheet with a time of 1’44.810 on the second and final day of the test, despite cool temperatures and unpredictable winds making conditions on track tricky. Cluzel, who is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in the final race of the 2018 season in Qatar, will now head to Australia determined to stamp his authority on the championship with another strong performance in the Phillip Island test that immediately precedes the first round of the season at the same track.
Cluzel’s GMT94 teammate and fellow countryman, Corentin Perolari, was the next Yamaha on the timesheet, narrowly edging out Kallio Racing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team rider and WorldSSP rookie, Isaac Viñales, for fifth position on the second day of the test with a time of 1’46.280.
Thomas Gradinger, making his debut aboard the Kallio Racing YZF-R6 in Portugal, ended the two-day test in a creditable eighth position, with his Belgian teammate Loris Cresson rounding out the top ten on the timesheet.
The Bardahl Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported team riders, Federico Caricasulo and Randy Krummenacher, didn’t participate in the Portimão test, but both showed strongly during testing in Jerez earlier in January. Caricasulo topped the timesheet after two days in Jerez, while Krummenacher finished fourth, just 0.3s off the time of his teammate.
The Yamaha supported WorldSSP teams will return to action during a two-day test at Phillip Island in the week before the opening round of the 2019 season gets underway at the same circuit.