The official Pata Honda WSB duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark found both dry and wet weather conditions at Portimao over their three-day opening test session of 2015, with wet winning out in the end.
On what was more of a complete 2015 machinery package than their previous tests at the end of 2014 at Jerez, they enjoyed a dry first day and start of the second day. Portimao then offered up wet track conditions but Guintoli and van der Mark continued to work to evaluate off-season developments and make the use of the available track time.
For Guintoli this was a significant test because he could feel many changes from the spec of CBR he rode at Jerez near the end of last year. “We improved it in quite a lot of different areas so I am happy,” said the reigning world champion.
“We have not had the best weather at times but we managed to get a decent time in the dry. We had more testing to do in the wet anyway.”
New limits on engine tuning cannot help but change the dynamics of the whole WSB class in 2015. Guintoli found the engine character and electronics package of his machine much improved from the previous Jerez test, partly because of the effects of the 2015 technical regulations. “I think that with the new rules everybody is going to lose a bit of that top end so in that respect the engines are going to become a little less aggressive, because that is where that maximum power was, right at the top, on every bike,” said Guintoli.
“But the bike does not feel slow. It does not feel slow! We are not going to lose a lot. At a track like Portimao the engine is not that important anyway, for top end power, but it does not seem that we have any kind of worry about the power. We will have to see when we practice with the together with other teams but it feels that it is working well now.”
He also went ‘off-piste’ in terms of some chassis changes. “We explored some more areas with the chassis geometry and I think we are going to use something quite radically different from what the team has used in the past,” said Guintoli.
“There were some good findings and it was a bit of everything. It is very different, in every way actually, geometry wise than what the team has used before. It feels really good and hopefully we can transform that in the races into wins.”
For van der Mark it was all about him continuing to make the transition from WSS to WSB, something he feels is coming along as nicely as he could have hoped at this stage. “I must be really happy with the progress we have made and how it goes now is better than expected,” said the 22-year-old rookie WSB rider.
“The weather was wet again on the final day but I got the chance to change many things and it has worked really well for us. There were more changes made on the electronics side than anything else, even in the rain, and we improved things a lot after so many laps.”
Next up for the Pata pairing are two days of Motorland Aragon tests, on 19 and 20 January, where weather conditions are predicted to be poor once again.