2011 Canadian Pro Superbike Champ McCormick rejoined the SBK tour two weeks ago at the Nurburgring in Germany, after a long recovery from serious injuries suffered in April in the Netherlands. At the ‘ring, McCormick earned his first series Championship point in the opening race, then retired from a promising position in the second race due to engine issues with his Ducati Desmo 1098R.
“It’s been good the last few days, I’ve been busy, there is plenty to do,” explained McCormick from his new Prague base in the Czech Republic. “Since we got back from Germany, I’ve been moto crossing, riding the bicycle, getting into a rhythm. My neck is fine, no issues there.”
“Really today, more than anything, I want to get back on my Superbike,” continued McCormick, relaxing at his local Starbucks. “I’ve been talking to the team, we’re ready for Portimao, and I’m pretty fired up for the weekend’s races.”
Portimao marks McCormick’s first career race in the feature Superbike class in Europe on a track that he actually knows from experience. McCormick has twice tested works race bikes for “Inside Motorcycles” at the southern Portuguese venue, as well as racing there last year for BMW in the European SuperStock 1000cc support class and testing for Ducati in a program that lead to this year’s Effenbert contract.
“It’s nice to go somewhere where I’ve raced, so I don’t have to blow the first couple of sessions just getting up to speed, staying out of the way of everyone,” confirmed Saskatoon-born McCormick. “I know the track, I’m comfortable around Portimao, and I understand the key places that establish a successful lap.”
McCormick will once again be joined by former works Superbike pilot Lorenzo Lanzi, an addition to the Effenbert-Liberty squad at the last round.
The hilly Portimao layout, not far from the ocean, features 15 turns over a length of 4.592 kms. The final turn, a long downhill right hander taken in fourth gear, is a daunting challenge that allows the legendary Ducati v-twin to make the most of its potent corner exit performance.
While McCormick aims to score more World Championship point s and move towards the top ten in each of Sunday’s 22 lap Superbike races, the battle for the World Series Crown is coming down to the wire.
With four races left to run over two weekends, offering a potential 100 point haul, Aprilia’s Max Biaggi leads the series by 9.5 points from BMW’s Marco Melandri. Heading into the last round at the Nurburgring, Melandri had the series lead, but a pair of crashes greatly hurt his title push, BMW looking to earn their first SBK Crown.
Meanwhile Kawasaki team leader Tom Sykes is just 26.5 points back of Biaggi, the last rider to have a realistic shot at the 2012 Championship title. Biaggi, the 2010 Champ, has headed the series standings for most of the season, and is a favorite at Portimao after scoring the rare double victory in his title season. Weather reports suggest that rain is possible for Saturday’s Tissot-SuperPole qualifying and Sunday’s pair of races, meaning the typically wide open fight at the front might be even crazier than usual.