Team Effenbert Liberty Racing’s rookie Brett McCormick placed a solid 14th overall in the very wet morning warm-up session for today’s pair of eni Superbike World Championship rounds at Portimao in Portugal.
Canuck McCormick’s best lap was a tour at 1:59.7, about 15 seconds away from a good dry lap time. Quickest in the sodden session was Honda CBR1000RR mounted Jonathan Rea who lapped at 1:56.9 on the works Ten Kate entry.
Dry conditions were expected for today’s pair of 22 lap races around the 4.592 km long Portimao venue, but low clouds lead to driving rain just before the featured Superbikes took to the track for their sole 15 minute preparation session.
Class rookie McCormick was well pleased with the performance of his Ducati 1098R Desmo v-twin, and is optimistic about his chances in today’s races, his fourth career set of starts in the SBK series.
“The traction was really good out there,” explained 21 year old McCormick, referring to the grip available from the seldom wet 15 turn layout. “I don’t know what the Euro guys think, the racers who know all the tracks in the rain, but I was really satisfied with the level of grip and the feedback. ”
“I had no moments out there, nothing, there was no one to tow me around, but things went well overall. This was my first real ride in the rain since the Parts Canada National round at Mosport over a year ago, so it was good to get the feel of things in those conditions again. I’m coming off that injury at Assen, so it was really sweet to get up to speed.”
“I was dragging my knee like in the dry, that was the first time I had done that in the rain,” continued the Saskatoon, Saskatchewan born McCormick. “I didn’t use the special tall knee sliders they can give you for the rain, and I was actually pushing the rain into my leathers with my knee!
Impressed with the mid-range performance of the booming Ducati, McCormick explained that “when you get on the gas, the Ducati is so smooth – and it’s easy to be smooth on the Ducati. It feels like we should be right there in the race, it will be long at 22 laps in the rain, and you’re going to have to use some discipline, get it to the finish.”
Conditions at the circuit are particularly humid, making it tough for riders to keep their helmet visors clear from inside condensation. Many of the racers were busy looking for help from their gear suppliers in preparation of an expected wet opening race at noon, after three days of heat and sun.
Of the title contenders for the 2012 eni Superbike World crown, second in the standings Marco Melandri was second best in the wet with a lap at 1:57.3 on the factory BMW S1000RR. Points leader Max Biaggi was fifth fastest on his Aprilia RSV4 Factory, while third in points Tom Sykes netted the 12th best tour on his Kawasaki ZX-10R Ninja.
Insiders expect Biaggi and Melandri to play it safe in a wet race, while Sykes has less to loose and therefore is more likely to gamble. This season’s recent variety of wet SBK races has thrown up a wide selection of leaders and last minute position changes. Kawasaki’s Loris Baz and Ducati pilot Sylvain Guintoli, both wet race winners in 2012, each crashed during the morning’s brief session.