The 27-year-old Honda rider appeared in a changed and refreshed mood on Friday’s day one of action at this weekend’s round ten at the awesome Portimao track close to the Algarve coastline.
The race weekend at the challenging Autodromo Internacional do Algarve got underway under fine weather with lots of sun but strong and gusty winds as well as a bumpy track were not an easy obstacle to overcome.
Apart from these less nice circumstances, Stefan Bradl started into the weekend in an unfamilar environment for him. The most serious change since the last race four weeks ago in Germany was the change of his technical crew as he moved from the right to the left side in the garage of his Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team. But he and his new crew, which has not yet been a perfectly well-coordinated team, took this first hurdle greatly. Bradl saw himself racing well inside the top ten at each stage of both Friday’s free practice sessions. In the end, the ambitious Honda rider finished the opening day in Portugal in tenth place overall, which meant that he qualified directly for Superpole2 on Saturday.
#6 Stefan BRADL (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team, Honda CBR1000RR SP2), FP1: P9 – 1´44.834 / FP2: P10 – 1´43.957:
“I’m happy about this start to the weekend, of course. It is always nice to be in the top ten. At the same time, this also means that we made it through Superpole2 which didn’t happen so many times this year as we know. Actually, it was for the first time that we made directly after Friday’s sessions. Beyond that, I’m very pleased how things went today overall as well as with our progress achieved with the bike because we were able to improve continuously. During the break between the two sessions, we made some changes to the bike which worked out to be very positive. In the same way, further small steps have been made during FP2.”
“Apart from a minor problem with the rear brake, everything went very smoothly today. But we did not get worried by these issues and continued our way. In any case, we have taken the right way already. I’m also satisfied with my lap time because our best effort in 1´43.9 is really strong for us. Actually, I thought to end up two, three positions more towards the front but some other riders were able to set a strong lap time in the last minutes. However, we are still in a close gap to the top five – we just miss four tenth to Tom Sykes which is a really good achievement for our capabilities thus far. So, now it is important to keep on this level and to deliver a strong qualifying tomorrow too, in order to achieve a starting position similar to what we have shown today. In addition, our pace for the race is also good. So, if we can keep this direction, then the lap times and the position come by itself. The top ten are therefore our goal.”
“But this progress does not come from somewhere because before this race, there were some significant changes to the team’s structure as I’ve changed the side and at the same time my crew. We have known each other since the start of this season but it still will take a while until we more familiarized together. But after our first day working together, it works quite well already. This fact was also underlined by our speed today as we were there straight away. The same also applies to me, since I felt comfortable in my new environment immediately. The fact that our direction is definitely the right one, makes me very happy.”
#PORWorldSBK – Free Practice Combined Times FP1/FP2:
1 Jonathan REA / GBR / Kawasaki Racing Team / Kawasaki ZX-10R / 1´42.621 (FP2)
2 Marco MELANDRI / ITA / Aruba.it Racing – Ducati / Ducati Panigale R / 1´43.207 +0.586 (FP2)
3 Chaz DAVIES / GBR / Aruba.it Racing – Ducati / Ducati Panigale R / 1´43.310 +0.689 (FP2)
10 #6 Stefan BRADL / GER / Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team / 1´43.957 +1.336 (FP2)