Gregorio Lavilla has given prospective employers something to think about heading into the off-season after almost parting with a podium for Paul Bird Motorsport.

With PBM tipped to announce a switch to become Kawasaki's factory outfit in 2009, complete with riders Makoto Tamada and Broc Parkes, Lavilla is without a team next season. Even so, he did his utmost to impress in Portugal.

Despite leaving himself with a job to do from 17th on the grid, Lavilla was one of the few riders to protect the tyres of the Vent-Axia VK Honda, a factor that worked him into play in the latter stages of the race.

Running as high as fourth as he diced with the better funded Ten Kate and HM Plant Hondas, Lavilla would eventually cross the line in sixth when he high-sided on the very final corner and almost fell.

It was a similar story in the second race, Lavilla working his way up the order to launch a late-race charge, although this time it was only good enough for eighth.

"I'm very happy to end the season on a high and achieve these good results in Portimao. We have had our ups and downs this year and worked hard to set-up the bike and make valuable improvements as a team. As with anything, the more experience you have on the bike, with your team and the people you work with, things can only improve."

Finishing as the top privateer rider in 12th overall, with a best result of fourth place at Donington Park, Lavilla admits he is sad to be leaving PBM, but adds that he has enjoyed his time back in World Superbikes.

"I feel that I have done what was expected of me this year and all the team can be proud of finishing in 12th place in the championship and the first privateer team. It's a shame that I will not continue next year with the team but I have enjoyed the experience and the challenge of being part of World Superbikes again."

Team-mate Chris Walker, meanwhile, wasn't quite able to add to his points tally, but he too is pleased to have been given another WSBK chance in the second-half of the season.

"It's been a tough weekend for me having missed out on most of the qualifying practice on Saturday. My only bike had a technical problem at the beginning of practice so I only managed five laps and was forced to sit out the rest of qualifying.

"I was pretty happy with the practices that I did take part in and I really enjoyed the races and the new circuit here is mega. It's been a pleasure to be part of the Birdy team and I want to thank them all for having me on board for half of the season."

Having graduated from the British series, Paul Bird was delighted to emerge as the best true privateer team in 2008, but adds he is excited about the prospects for next season.

"It's been a challenging year for us here in World Superbikes but I think we've finished off the year in a strong 12th position and the leading privateer team which I'm pretty proud of.

"Unfortunately I wasn't able to be in Portimao but I am happy the team finished the season on a high with the best results for the year. We look forward to our 2009 plans and being part of the World Superbike Championship once again."



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