Portimao WorldSBK test: Gossip, rumour and intrigue

Picture: GeeBee Images

Triple-champion elect Jonathan Rea was the subject of mucho gossip regarding an approach by the Suzuki MotoGP team but the works Kawasaki man strongly denied any contact with Davide Brivio’s team.

Rea - and Andrea Iannone for that matter - are both contracted to their respective outfits for next season, and the Irishman is pretty emphatic about his love for his current situation. Rea has stated on many occasions that he wouldn’t entertain a move to the blue riband class unless it was on a package that was capable of running at the business end.

Kawasaki are already into their development plan for 2018 as it would appear the big regulation change for next season will be a rev limit. Rea - flying solo after Tom Sykes’ crash and subsequent operation - was testing parts for next year’s ZX-10RR as he believes the chassis will be much more important when power is cut at the top end.

Leon Camier continues to be name on everyone’s lips when it comes to paddock movement in 2018. It is well known there is a spot for him in the Red Bull Honda team should be want it but Barni Ducati have yet to confirm their plans for next year. The team have faith in incumbent Xavi Fores but have made noises about a second bike - their trouble being the €800,000 it costs.

Barni’s Panigale is almost factory spec and receives upgrades in short order after they have been checked and ticked by Chaz Davies. That, allied to Camier’s proven ability, is a race-winning package.

It looks a lot like Althea will stick with Jordi Torres and BMW for next season as team principal Genesio Bevilacqua doesn’t see any positives in moving away from the German brand. He is of the opinion that all the work done with the S1000RR should keep momentum moving forward and changing manufacturer would mean starting from zero.

Torres appears to have got to grips with how the electronics need to be handled at the start of the race but it looks like Raffaele De Rosa may lose his spot as Bevilacqua’s sponsors are demanding results.

Michael van der Mark probably knows by now whether he is riding in Friday’s MotoGP free practice one at Aragon as the rest of the world waits on Rossi’s decision. The Dutchman was happy with his test at Portimao and said he now has a good base setup which should make the remaining three rounds much more simple. Alex Lowes did some laps but was sore from his race-two crash.

Davide Giugliano was a country mile off the pace in the test. He was testing a new engine spec for the Red Bull Honda team as well as some electronic settings and didn’t get to do a time-attack lap before the rain fell.

Team boss Ronald Ten Kate says the relationship with HRC has not changed even though Takuma Takahashi was present to race in Portugal. He says that Honda already support the team and nothing much altered - except for the disappearance of technical director Pieter Breddels and some staff shifting to Bradl’s side of the garage. The Dutchman believes they are capable of winning the title but it will take much more development as ‘works’ teams like Kawasaki and Ducati are able to move and change much faster with their superior resources.

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