Portimão. With the Superpole race and race two on Sunday, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team completed the third round of the FIM Superbike World Championship 2020 (WorldSBK) season at Portimão (POR). Tom Sykes (GBR) brought home solid results with positions six and seven. His team-mate Eugene Laverty (IRL) was unlucky with falls in both races. In the Superpole race he crossed the finish line in 20th place while in race two he fought his way up into 12th place.
Sykes and Laverty started the morning’s Superpole race from fourth and ninth on the grid on their BMW S 1000 RRs. Sykes maintained fourth place until the fourth lap, before dropping down to sixth in a close battle for positions. He then fought a great duel with Scott Redding (GBR) for fifth place. After ten laps he crossed the finish line in sixth place. Laverty was nudged by a rival after entering turn five and fell. The Irishman entered the pit briefly, but re-joined the race and finished in 20th place.
The second race in the afternoon was an eventful affair. Sykes and Lafferty started from sixth and tenth on the grid. Sykes dropped down several positions in the first turns, which put him in eleventh place in the interim. As the race progressed, he moved his way back up the field and ended up finishing in seventh place. Laverty was unlucky once again. After a good start, he was lying in seventh place when he fell again in turn five – and was the first of many riders to hit the floor in that corner during the race. Laverty continued the race once again, getting ever closer to finishing in the points, and overtaking manoeuvres in the closing phase saw him move up into twelfth place, securing four points.
The next stop on the calendar of the WorldSBK 2020 season is MotorLand Aragón (ESP). A double-header is scheduled there for the final weekend in August and the first weekend in September.
Quotes after race two at Portimão.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “In general, it was a pretty satisfying day. We achieved that we can show a more stable performance over race distance. This morning, starting from fourth on the grid, Tom claimed a well-deserved sixth place in a tough battle. That was satisfying and showed the chances for the second race. Tom had a good start, but then he struggled in the first corners, especially corner five, and lost a few seconds. Due to a few opponents’ falls, he slipped up to seventh place. After the first laps, his pace was between position four and seventh and was again stable, even if we had the same problem with the engine performance as yesterday. All in all, it was a solid performance. Eugene’s day was quite unlucky. He was involved in a crash with Chaz Davies in this morning’s Superpole race. In the main race, Eugene got off to a very good start, but unfortunately fell through his own fault at the notorious turn five and was then able to fight his way up to twelfth place. We will now analyse the lap times. We have definitely made technical progress this weekend which should bring us forward in the upcoming races.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “The sprint race turned out to be a good race for Tom; he rode pretty hard and I’m pleased he could get up into sixth position. It was probably the best race he has had in a while, so I am happy about that. Eugene unfortunately got taken out by another rider which summarises his weekend really; when he finds momentum, he gets taken out. Despite that he picked up 10th position on the grid for race two and made a reasonably good start, obviously desperate to get himself further up the field but unfortunately ran hot into T5 and lost the front, but managing to re-join the race and claw points back for 12th. Tom got off the line well for race two but got swallowed up into T1 dropping down to P13. He did well to battle through the field and with riders dropping out it promoted him up, but I think with the deficit on horsepower it really shows it up. Again, with that replaced I think we can be fighting for regular podiums and we know that. The bike is handing beautifully, it corners well, it brakes well and the electronics work good. We could just do with that extra bit of grunt and top speed to make this bike potentially a race winning package. I’d just like to add a huge thank you to all of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team staff; it has been a difficult two weeks on the road from Jerez last week, to Portimão this week and the work our team has put has been second to none. The guys will now have a well-earned break before heading into the back to back rounds four and five at Aragón in a fortnights’ time where we will be recharged and giving it our all.”
Tom Sykes: “It’s been one of those weekends. We definitely had some limitations, mainly on straight-line performance but we just kept working hard. The whole of the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team had a good plan, we tried to utilise what we had available to our best advantage so having said that, in some areas we were very close to where we needed to be. I do believe there are positives to take, I think everyone has seen I have been struggling on engine performance. Especially off the start going into first, second and third gear I lose a lot of track position, but hopefully this is something we can address in the short term but for now we have to be pleased with what we are getting out of the chassis. I have enjoyed the races today. The track was testing and a lot of people over-stepped the mark and to be honest to come away sixth, seventh and eighth is not what my CV is happy with, but it’s all about building those blocks and getting into the next phase of the programme.”
Eugene Laverty: “To hit the deck in both races today was devastating. In the Superpole race, I got caught up in the Chaz Davies crash. Chaz tried to overtake me and took me out so it’s a case of wrong place at the wrong time. In the final race, I made a great start, gaining six positions and I was going for it from the start but unfortunately I lost the front in T5. I remounted to try get back some positions and after a few laps I understood why I crashed. It was because the track conditions today were a lot greasier than the rest of the weekend. I wasn’t cautious enough, I was on the attack from the get go and ultimately it cost me. I regained positions to get twelfth place which is the least I could do for the team after having such a tough weekend.”