Byrne quickest as test gets underway.

Shane Byrne picked up exactly where he left off as official World Superbike testing got underway at a wet and rainy Portimao circuit.

Having topped the timesheets around the Portuguese circuit during post-season testing two months ago, the arrival of rain failed to dampen his intentions as he proved the only rider to dip below the 2mins mark.

Lapping just under a second quicker than his closest competition, the reigning BSB champion led a British 1-2 following the morning session with rival and fellow WSBK 'rookie' Jonathan Rea landing just behind.

Despite the conditions, the top ten positions were hotly contested, with just over two seconds covering third down to 12th position. At the head of this train was Michel Fabrizio, the Kyalami pace setter getting the edge on team-mate Nortiyuki Haga, who was just behind in seventh.

Max Neukirchner hauled his 2009-specification Suzuki up into fourth position, albeit more than two seconds behind Byrne, while Guandalini Ducati joined Sterilgarda in flying the flag for the privateer entries in fifth and sixth, Jakub Smrz leading Brendan Roberts.

Making his full debut for Althea Honda and experiencing the Portimao circuit for the first time, Tommy Hill was an impressive eighth, ahead of the factory entries form Carlos Checa and Yukio Kagayama.

In all, 23 riders ventured out onto circuit as times varied depending on the strength of the rain and the laps they completed. Those who didn't complete a time included Ben Spies, Ryuichi Kiyonari and Leon Haslam.

Elsewhere, Troy Corser was 12th quickest in the best of the BMW entries, while Tom Sykes returned to action with Yamaha in 13th. Kawasaki's leading representative in 14th, meanwhile, was Luca Scassa on the independently run Pedercini machine – factory rider Broc Parkes was 16th quickest.

Aprilia kept their running to a minimum, Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano going 19th and 23rd respectively, considerably off the ultimate pace.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Byrne, Portuguese WSBK Test 2008
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Ten Kate, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Rea, Australian WSBK, 2017
Fores` Ducati, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK
Davies` Ducati, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK
Melandri`s Ducati, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK
Hayden`s Honda, Australian WSBK, 2017. Photo courtesy of WorldSBK

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RaceFan - Unregistered

January 23, 2009 9:32 PM

You've got to hand it to Sterilgarda and Shakey, what a start! He is such a consistent and determined rider that I feel he'll be close at the end of the season, privateer bike or not. And Johnny Rea, what a man. This guy is equally determined and could well be the top Honda this year. Checa has class but blows hot and cold, as does Kiyo. Tommy Hill, first time at the circuit and coming back after terribly injury and he's well up the order. There's a lot more to come. I haven't even included Syksey on the new Yam or Leon Haslam, who'll be a contender on a second string Honda. He displayed great skill and character last race out. What talent! Let's all give them the support they deserve!

terry - Unregistered

January 24, 2009 9:48 AM

I think Shakey should have had Bayliss's bike this year, he seems to be at home on a V Twin taking his results in the past. I do not want to take anything away from Haga, but he is a screaming 4 cyclnder specialist. He was on a Ducati a few seasons back but never really hacked it

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