The weekend racing action started at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with thrilling battles on track with Race 1 from MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) claimed a dominant victory of five seconds to reassert himself in the Championship fight.
It was the perfect way to bounce back from Rea’s worst race finish in six years when he finished sixth at Jerez in Race 2 by taking a commanding victory from pole position, with no one able to match the Northern Irishman throughout the 20-lap race. He was initially challenged by Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAHAMA WorldSBK Official Team) but a stunning lap time on Lap 4, half a second quicker than Razgatlioglu, meant he pulled out around a second from the Turkish sensation.
Razgatlioglu finished a comfortable second, five seconds behind Rea but almost two seconds clear of his PATA Yamaha teammate Michael van der Mark as Yamaha secured two spots on the podium; showing impressive pace in both Tissot Superpole and Race 1 to cement their status as front runners in WorldSBK.
Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) finished in fourth place after starting the race in third, having battled his way back through the field in an epic battle with Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) and, initially, van der Mark. While van der Mark was able to escape after passing Baz and Lowes at Turn 2 on Lap 10, the rest continued their epic battle. Van der Mark also dramatically lost pace when he had a false neutral on his bike, losing around six tenths before fighting back for a podium.
Redding had initially made his way from eighth to fight for a podium but lost pace in the latter stages in the race, as he fell back to Lowes on Lap 15 before Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) passed him on Lap 18 at Turn 1 before Baz followed him through at Turn 3. It meant Rinaldi finished fifth, continuing his impressive recent pace, ahead of Baz as the two Independent riders claimed a top six finish. Redding finished in seventh place, just holding off the challenge from Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team); Sykes claiming a top 10 finish after starting fourth.
Alvaro Bautista (Team HRC) finished in ninth place after showing some late-race pace to apply the pressure to Sykes and Redding, but the Spanish rider was unable to gain enough. Eugene Laverty (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) claimed a top 10 finish as BMW scored a top 10 finish with both riders. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) finished in 11th place, holding off the challenge from Leon Haslam (Team HRC) by one tenth as they crossed the line.
Xavi Fores (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finishing in 13th place onboard his Kawasaki, holding off a late-race challenge from Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team); the pair having a drag race to the line with Spanish rider Fores holding on by just 0.042s. Gerloff’s teammate, Federico Caricasulo, claimed the final point paying position in the race with 15th.
Sandro Cortese (OUTDO Kawasaki TPR) was the only rider who crashed during the race, as he fell on the last lap at Turn 11, but Cortese is conscious following the accident. The German was transferred to Faro hospital following the incident where he will undergo surgery to stabilize a fractured vertebrae, with Cortese currently showing no signs of neurological impairment. He also suffered from a fracture of the right tibial bone.
P1 Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“It was a fantastic race; I want to thank my team because they gave me a great bike. I felt good from Lap 1. We’ve been working all day yesterday with our rhythm to understand all the tyres available to us. I want to thank them because we made a good decision together. I set my rhythm at the start and managed the race in a good way. It was my first proper long race win of the season and I want to dedicate it to all the fans who aren’t here, especially everybody from back home, normally Portugal is full of my fans but I see your messages on Facebook and Instagram and it really gives me a lot of power after last week so this one is for you.”
P2 Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team)
“We tried for a win today, but it wasn’t possible as Jonny was so fast. I tried for a good position, I followed Jonny for maybe four or five laps but after that he went. I started sliding too much, so finished in second position. I’m happy and tomorrow we try a different setup for a better position.”
P3 Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team)
“I’m really happy with this podium. If I look back at the race, I was really comfortable with the bike. My bike went in neutral, so I went off track, and I had some moments at Turn 9 so it wasn’t easy. I’m happy to get back on the podium, and it’s great to have Toprak on the podium as well. I think we just need to make some small changes on the bike for tomorrow, especially when it’s warm, but I’m happy with this podium and it feels great to see some fans around the track again.”
2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Team) +5.142
3. Michael van der Mark (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Team) +7.029
4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +9.851
5. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team GOELEVEN) +10.705
6. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +12.226.
2. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Kawasaki (99 points)
3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (TUR) Yamaha (86 points)
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of WorldSBK.com