The final round of the 2020 Superbike World Championship officially opened today at the Estoril circuit in Portugal, Team HRC rider Alvaro Bautista completing the first free practice sessions of this season finale.
This morning saw the Superbike field take to the Portuguese track for the first time since 1993. Although Bautista has experience of the circuit, it was essentially a case of starting from scratch, considering this is his first visit with the new CBR1000RR-R Fireblade SP.
The afternoon’s session also ran in dry and sunny conditions, Team HRC making the most of this second practice and making a significant step forward in terms of lap times already early on in the session. Working effectively in the garage, by the end of session two, Bautista placed eleventh thanks to a fastest time of 1’37.914, despite a fall in the later stages which prevented him from completing what was looking to be a very fast lap.
“Today has provided us with track references for the CBR. This morning we had some problems with rear grip and having tried different solutions, we improved a little bit but not enough. In the afternoon we took a step forward with the electronics. We also used the SC0 Pirelli tyre for almost the entire second session. It’s not my usual favourite but I didn’t feel bad. For the last run, to make a direct comparison, we went back to the SCX, the tyre I usually feel better with, and I was actually making a good lap but then I fell in the third sector. I think we could have shaved off a few tenths because I felt like I had better contact, especially through the “esses”. Not a bad day anyway, and we will try to use all the information we gathered to further improve tomorrow.” [Alvaro Bautista]