Gonzalez and Carvalho Lead on Opening Day of YXZ1000R SuperFinale in Portalegre
19 YXZ1000R crews, from seven European and South American nations, descended on Portalegre, Portugal for the traditional start gate ceremony in the town centre on Thursday evening, delighting the crowds and officially beginning the 2022 Yamaha YXZ1000R European Cup SuperFinale.
A 3.7 km Qualifying Special Stage Prologue, which determined Saturday’s starting order, kicked off the action on Friday to give the YXZ1000R crews their first running on the Portuguese terrain. Bone-dry conditions gave the crews ideal running, the previous two days seeing baking sunshine and no rainfall.
The Spanish and Uruguayan pairing of Miquel Prat and Sergio Lafuente led the way in the Prologue for the Stock class with a time of 3’19.8, +4.2 seconds ahead of second-placed British duo Sean and Kevin Haran. In the Open class meanwhile, Portuguese solo entrant Ricardo Carvalho led his field with a 3’15.2, leading the second British pairing of William Buller and Chris McPhee by just +2.5 seconds.
A 72 km liaison to the town of Ponte de Sor gave crews their first and only stop on day one, before they tackled the 59.6 km of special stage two that took them to Crato.
Prologue Stock class pace-setters Prat and Lafuente struggled with setup and lost their lead on the second special stage, dropping to fifth by the end of the day. Spanish pairing Agustin Gonzalez and Ruben Ruiz however found pace and topped SS2 with a 50’11.8, arriving at the bivouac with a combined class-leading time of 53’37.1, +1’17.2 ahead of the next YXZ1000R of Luis Sainero and Amir Kouch.
Carvalho’s strong form continued through SS2, topping the Open class in SS2 with a 49’42.4 for a combined fastest time of 52’57.8, +2’17.1 ahead of his nearest SuperFinale rival, the Italian pairing of Alessandro and Emiliano Tinaburri. Prologue contenders Buller and McPhee however struck misfortune in SS2, losing a corner of their vehicle but heroically finishing the stage on three wheels.
With the Qualifying Special Stage deciding the day two YXZ1000R starting order, Prat and Lafuente, as the overall fastest in the Prologue, will be the first YXZ1000R to start day two, where the crews will face a mammoth 350 km special stage three.