Portimao World Superbikes: Corner entry concerns for HM Plant Honda

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HM Plant Honda Team Manager Havier Beltran has said grip levels, mainly on corner entry, will be the big concern this weekend for the final round of WSB at the new Portimao circuit.

HM Plant Honda joined a small group of World Championship teams including newly-crowned WSB Champs Xerox Ducati and the circuits Supersport team, Parkalgar Honda, for a two-day test last week.

But with the new tarmac yet to be graced by a race bike, grip levels were a major issues over the two days.

Ahead of their wildcard appearance for the final race of the WSB season, Beltran said: “There’s absolutely no pressure on either the team or the riders this weekend, which is nice.

“We’ve finished our championship and this is the last round of the World Superbike championship, which has already been decided.

“The riders have already been privileged to test out there already and the facility looks tremendous and second-to-none.

“The grip level hasn’t been too good, but this is new asphalt and you get that when the oil is seeping out of the bitumen, but the times get quicker as more rubber is laid down.

“We’ve had the rear spinning on corner exit and also had problems on corner entry grip. Things will get better as time goes on.

“Either way, this will be a level-playing field for everyone, both for the regular World Championship runners and us. It’s the last time we will see Leon and Cal in HM Plant Honda colours, so let’s hope they get some good results both for themselves and the team.”

Double BSB race-winner in 2008, Cal Crutchlow, also passed comment on the levels of grip before his final appearance for HM Plant Honda.

The 22-year old will hang up his HM Plant leathers after Sunday’s race before testing at the circuit on the following day with the factory Yamaha World Supersport team.

He said: “During the test the track was improving all the while, but if you went off-line you would lose so much time it was untrue.

“Hopefully with more bikes out there from tomorrow we will see the times come tumbling down as more rubber gets laid on it.

“It’s nice to be out here to compete at the final World Superbike round.

“I’m hoping to repeat my podium result or better it from the Donington Park round earlier this year to sign off my year with HM Plant Honda with a good result.”

Rob Hull

By Rob Hull