Riders get to grips with Estoril
The teams competing in the 12 Hours of Estoril – the FIM EWC final – took to the Portuguese track for the first time. The first private test session took place at Estoril this afternoon.
For most of the teams, the circuit in Portugal is uncharted territory. The final race of the 2019-2020 FIM EWC season is a new addition to the calendar. With a few exceptions, such as Wójcik Racing Team, who were on this track last weekend with Broc Parkes and Sheridan Morais competing in the Portuguese Superbike championship, the riders had their first taste of the Estoril circuit this afternoon.
The 4,182-metre track is both fast and technical. The 13 turns are a mix of fast corners and tight hairpins combined with a long 986-metre main straight. This unusual and physically demanding track has exactly what it takes to appeal to endurance racing specialists.
FIM EWC standings leader Suzuki Endurance Racing Team tackled the first session methodically. “We’re working on our chassis set-up and tyre choice,” says SERT team manager Damien Saulnier. “We started out with a hard tyre because we were told the track is very abrasive, but in the end we switched back to soft. The riders and finding their feet and the lap times are dropping. It’s all good.”
Pierre Chapuis, the team manager of Superstock class leader Moto Ain, is confident. “Roberto Rolfo, who is familiar with the track, helped Robin Mulhauser and Hugo Clere find their feet. As to the crew, we’re working to find the right settings, but it’s all going fine. It’s a shame GERT56 won’t be here to fight for the Superstock World Cup. I really regret that, even though it makes things easier for us.”
YART Yamaha and F.C.C. TSR Honda France appeared to be the fastest to get into action during this afternoon’s private, untimed practice session.
The official timed test sessions will take place tomorrow (Thursday) morning at Estoril, and the first qualifying will start at 2.30pm local time (3.30pm CET).