cheers Bayliss, thanks for the memories. . .

World Superbikes Portugal
2nd november 2008, portimao

Words BY LAURA BRADLEY, pics by Simon Bradley and Richard Handley

Portimao is the newest addition to our season calendar. So new, in fact, that the surface was only laid down six weeks ago, and they were still making finishing touches on the Saturday.

Xaus and Biaggi tow Ayrton Badovini along for his best ever qualifying...It's a perfect in between in length and speed, with hills building up whilst you're going through corners and some great opportunities for the riders to show off their wheelie skills... and the media centre is pretty impressive, too. All in all it seems to be a success so far, and when finished it will definately be a track worthy of the World Superbikes calendar.

Qualifying was interesting on the Friday, as it started to rain halfway through. This was not good news for lots of the riders, but some managed to get back in and change tyres and improve their times. However, that was all cancelled out on Saturday qualifying as the sun was shining and the track was nice and dry which was ideal conditions for the top riders...or so you would have thought. By the end of qualifying Bayliss found himself down in thirteenth, Haga fourteenth and Kiyonari way down in nineteenth. However, most of the usual suspects got into Superpole, as Fabrizio clenched the fastest time followed by Corser, Nieto, Nekirchner, Crutchlow, Haslam, Laconi, Rea, Smrz, Xaus, Checa, Kagayama, Bayliss, Haga, Ayrton Badovini (OK, so not just the usual suspects) and Biaggi.

So everybody got off their bikes happy and got back on happy leading into free practice before Superpole...and then the rain started to pour.

Superpole was wet. If you don’t know what that means by now then shame on you, I’ve had to explain it enough times this year so go back and read past articles!! (Editor's note - basically wet Superpole is a fifty minute free for all. The rides are allowed Troy Bayliss looks like he's taking the 1098 shopping. Maybe he is. He's just doing it 3 seconds faster than anyone else...twelve laps in total to do the best time they can in the conditions at the time.) So they went round in circles as fast as they could with not a lot happening apart from Xaus and Kagayama both chucking their bikes down a couple of the hills on the circuit, riders OK but bikes somewhat damaged after their experience of wet water slides.

Not much else to say about that really, apart from the results. Bayliss ran in the middle of the pack for a while before clearly deciding that it was time to thrash everyone just one more time and took pole position by three clear seconds, apparently without any real effort either, with Crutchlow, Rea and Biaggi finishing the front row of the grid. Second row was Fabrizio, Haslam, Corser and Xaus.       

Race One started with the normal...Bayliss took the lead from the first corner followed by Rea, who was soon overtaken by Corser. It was an early retirement from the race for Biaggi as, for the second time this year, Fabrizio went in the inside where there wasn’t a space and took them both out...I think there will be tears before bedtime and the fisticuffs trackside seem to side with me on that.

Johnny Rea was on a roll this race, and it was made even more impressive by the fact that this weekend was the first time he’d ever got on the superbike, as he overtook Corser going into the first corner of lap two. Corser showed him his place on the second corner, however, and took second straight back. Xaus, however, was on form as he soon overtook Rea and Corser, and Crutchlow showed what he was made of getting onto Rea’s tail. This lot were so close when they got to the line that they crossed it with four of them neck and neck.

Lap one, race one, and Bayliss is already making a space behind himself...Corser soon managed to drop four places in one corner leaving Rea in second, Crutchlow third and Xaus fourth. Not for long however as Crutchlow soon overtook Rea to get second place. By lap five Xaus also overtook Rea, but with great difficulty as Rea showed some British spirit and tried to block him in all ways possible. Xaus then went on to try and overtake Crutchlow, who succeeded in blocking his attempt.

The battle for podium was all over for Rea soon, as he ran wide and this resulted him joining his team mate down in seventh (also showing how close second to eighth were together...). Rea soon started his working his way up again, as he overtook Haga, but nobody but Bayliss had hope of winning this race as by this stage he had a five second lead. Neukirchner crashed out on lap seven and Rea ran wide again to end up at the back of the top eight pack. Haga then started to go into nitro mode and overtook Corser, as Haslam overtook Xaus to try and join his team mate on the podium. Xaus soon was trying to take third back, but the Pocket Rocket was blocking well until Xaus cut him off and got in front. However, they both managed to block Haga from going around the outside.
This left the standings on lap nine as Bayliss, Crutchlow, Xaus, Haslam, Haga, Corser, Checa, Rea Smrz and Lavilla. Haslam soon overtook Xaus and started to pester Crutchlow,who he overtook through the inside of a corner causing him to run a bit wide, which left space for Xaus and Haga to both overtake. Checa shot straight past Corser and started to try and get past Crutchlow as well whilst Rea started trying to work his way up again by making attempts to overtake Corser.

The main race within a race. Haga and Corser fight for second in the championship while Checa avoids getting flambeed...On lap ten Haga overtook Xaus, and Checa soon followed, and on lap eleven Checa finally managed to overtake Haga only to run wide and let Haga and Xaus both past. Corser also overtook Checa in the next couple of laps after. Haga soon started on Haslam, doing a rough and very British type overtake and causing Haslam to have to run wide and allow Corser and Checa past. Rea soon managed to overtake Xaus and get himself into sixth, and Crutchlow seemed to be having problems as he suddenly dropped down to twelfth.
On lap fifteen Checa overtook Corser on the inside of turn one, but Corser returned the compliment going into turn two. You have to feel a bit sorry for Haslam and Crutchlow, they’ve been pushed out the way and bullied a bit by the big boys – it’s as if they’re the temps in the office and being told to stop writing articles and go make a cup of tea. Haga, Corser and Checa crossed the line into lap sixteen neck and neck, Haga blocked Corser’s pass and he ran wide, leaving Checa in third but they were all still very close together. Checa overtook Haga around the outside and Haga immediately took him straight back going up the inside. However, Checa overtook him again on the outside. Corser soon followed suit and also overtook Haga on the inside of turn one of lap seventeen, and it was then that there was a definite problem with Haga’s bike as he sat up and started to slow off the gas. At this point Bayliss was seven seconds in the lead, and Haga was trying to keep the bike going but eventually had to retire with a technical problem.

The Brits are coming! Well, Brits and a Spanish former British Superbike champion. Expect a LOT more of this next year...Haslam, Rea and Lavilla all started to battle for fourth on lap nineteen, with Lavilla down in sixth but catching up in good time to Rea. Crutchlow confirmed the suspicions of a broken bike by pulling into the pits. Lavilla soon started to show some of the British Superbikes champion in him and overtook Rea and Haslam to get fourth, but Rea also overtook Haslam and hadn’t quite finished with Lavilla, and on lap twenty one he overtook Lavilla straight back and Nieto overtook Haslam. This left the end results by the end of the race as Bayliss, Checa, Corser, Rea, Nieto, Lavilla, Haslam, Kiyonari, Xaus and Laconi

Race Two   started with something different as Biaggi took the lead into the first corner. Rea took the lead from him as Biaggi then ran wide. Xaus then overtook Rea, who overtook him back but couldn’t hold it for long , and Xaus and Bayliss soon both overtook Rea. Bayliss soon went on to overtake Bayliss and ride off into the sunset for a stress free last race. Haga started to work his way up through the pack by overtaking Corser, and Rea was forced to run wide as he was going to collide into Xaus (also running wide), which made him fall down a few more places.
Haga carried on working his way up when he overtook Xaus on the start/finish straight going into lap five, but his luck ended when he got called for a ride through after a jump start. Fabrizio soon started to make his attendance known as he overtook Johnny Rea on the inside with another rough overtake, making Rea have to ease off the gas just to stay on the bike. By lap eight the top five were Bayliss, Xaus, Fabrizio, Rea and Corser. Fabrizio then went on to overtake Xaus, and whilst Xaus mad a good effort to get second back Fabrizio was on the faster bike and out dragged him on the straight. Rea’s good fortune ended Portimao saw the final appearance of Shuhei Aoyama and the Alto Evolution Honda, who haven't enjoyed the success they deserved this season...when he ran off the track and ended up way back down the pack on lap ten, running wide enough that he reached the tyres at the edge of the gravel trap.

Now, this is where it all got confusing because Xaus crashed out on lap eleven and Neukirchner suddenly appeared in third out of thin’s a neat trick I think we should all learn how to do it!

Nieto then also appeared from nowhere and overtook Crutchlow, as Corser and Haslam crossed the line next to each other.  Then Laconi suddenly appeared in front of Checa, but Checa overtook him to work his way further up the pack. Haslam soon managed to overtake Corser and make it stick, and Nieto barged his way past Corser on lap sixteen. At this point Bayliss was six seconds in the lead with team mate Fabrizio in second.

Haga managed to work his way up to fourteenth after his ride through after fighting back up from the back of the field, which was good going considering there’s around thirty of them. Crutchlow, however, started to drop down in places again. It’s not quite known what caused this, but I’m assuming either tyres or a technical problem as he was riding seven bells out of it until then.                          

Sparking up just one last time. Is this the last we'll see of sparky toe sliders? Haslam started fighting for third after catching up with Neukirchner, and on lap twenty one he got onto the podium going down the straight. This left the end results as Bayliss, Fabrizio, Haslam, Neukirchner, Nieto, Corser, Checa, Lavilla, Crutchlow and Laconi.

When retirement is inevitable then the only thing left is style. Well, I think Mr Bayliss has got that more than covered, and before he goes he just wants to remind us all just how good he really is.

So, that's it from us this season. There has been lots of laughter and, sadly, lots of tears, but it has been a good season and one that we are, once again, happy to be part of. Now, what do we do until next year? Have a good Christmas and a Happy New Year!





Troy Bayliss. Smashing bloke and a pretty handy Superbike rider as well. He'll be sorely missed around the paddock.Race One

1 Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
2 Carlos Checa (Honda)
3 Troy Corser (Yamaha)
4 Jonathan Rea (Honda)
5 Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
6 Gregoria Lavilla (Honda)
7 Leon Haslam (Honda)
8 Ryuichi Kiyonari (Honda)
9 Ruben Xaus (Ducati)
10 Regis Laconi (Kawasaki)

Race Two

1 Troy Bayliss (Ducati)
2 Michel Fabrizio (Ducati)
3 Leon Haslam (Honda)
4 Max Neukirchner (Suzuki)
5 Fonsi Nieto (Suzuki)
6 Troy Corser (Yamaha)
7 Carlos Checa (Honda)
8 Gregoria Lavilla (Honda)
9 Cal Crutchlow (Honda)
10 Regis Laconi (Kawasaki)

Championship Standing after fourteen rounds:

1 Troy Bayliss World Superbikes Champion 2008 460
2 Troy Corser 342
3 Nori Haga 327
4 Carlos Checa 313
5 Max Neukirchner 311
6 Fonsi Nieto 256
7 Max Biaggi 238
8 Michel Fabrizio 223
9 Ryuichi Kiyonari 206
10 Ruben Xaus 178


Note: Would just like to say congratulations to Brendan Roberts, who clenched the Superstock 1000 championship this weekend. A deserved champion who is going to be a star...possibly the next Bayliss. Well done!

LBRemember the face, the name and the race number. Brendan Roberts is a man who will go far. And we knew him before he was famous :)

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