Round ten in the Algarve roller coasters
The World Superbikes (where many teams involved are equipped by BMC) are off to the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, seat of the 10th round of the World Championship scheduled for 15th and 17th September. Located near the city of Portimão and not far from the Arade River estuary (Portugal), the track was inaugurated in October 2008.
Since then, the World Superbike Championship has always held a round here, the only exception being in 2016 when it was replaced by the round in Monza then canceled. In January of this year, the Superbikes went through three days of testing in Portimão.
Designed by Ricardo Pina, the track has been equated with roller coasters due to the continuous up and down that distinguishes it. The maximum gradient on uphill climbs reaches 6% and it is 12% going downhill, while the transverse tilt in some points gets up to 8%.
The track includes every type of element, from the 970 meters straight to hairpin turns taken at 60 km/h and curves with a 160 meters radius and sudden changes in direction. Since the circuit is near the Atlantic Ocean and there are no challenging braking sections lined up in a row, there is no risk of overheating the brakes.
According to Brembo technicians, who work closely with 17 World Superbike riders, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is a fairly demanding circuit for the brakes. On a scale of 1 to 5, it earned a 3 on the difficulty index, exactly the same score given to the track at Losail, where the championship season will end.
The demand on the brakes during the race
In spite of there being 20 corners, the World Superbike riders use their brakes only 10 times for a total of just under 29 seconds. The braking system is activated for 28% of the overall duration of the race.
Excluding the first braking section after the finish line, the only one where the riders enter going more than 300 km/h, all the others have a peak deceleration somewhere between 0.8 G and 1.3 G. The average peak deceleration on the track is 1.12 G, but this is misleading because on the first half of the track it is 1.2 G and on the second half, it goes down to 1 G.
Summing up all of the force applied by a rider on the Brembo brake lever from the starting line to the checkered flag, the result is just over 950 kg. That means each lap the rider experiences a force of about 50 kg.
The most demanding braking sections
Of the 10 braking sections at Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, only one is considered very challenging on the brakes, eight are of medium difficulty and the last one is light.
The most demanding by far is the first corner after the finish line. The 1 kilometer straight that precedes this corner allows the Superbikes to reach 305 km/h. At the top of the crest, the riders begin to brake, nearing 1.5 in deceleration, and they continue to brake for 3.9 seconds during which they travel 221 meters to enter the turn going 117 km/h.
The Superbikes set two records for the World Championship on this track, first the load on the brake lever and second the pressure of the Brembo brake fluid: 6,7 kg the first, 14.3 bar the second. In MotoGP, on the other hand, the carbon brakes used by the riders lead to a maximum load of 8,1 kg and the pressure of the HTC 64T Brembo brake fluid reaches a peak of 14 bar, the same value registered on the last corner at Aragón.
In terms of time, the longest braking section at Autódromo Internacional do Algarve is at turn 5, on the downhill hairpin turn taken in second gear. The Superbikes go from 235 km/h to 78 km/h in 4.4 seconds applying a load of 4,8 kg on the brake lever and experiencing 1.3 G in deceleration.
Three other corners require a braking distance that measures more than 100 meters: turns 10, 13 and 15. The slowest of the three, in terms of speed both before braking and at the end of braking, is turn 13, which is also the most demanding on the riders and the braking systems: 1.2 G in deceleration, a load of 5,3 kg on the lever and 11.3 bar of pressure in the brake fluid.
BMC News, International Online Magazine