Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has extended his incredible winning streak at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with another victory in Race One on Saturday, his sixth consecutive win at the Portuguese rollercoaster and his eleventh of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season. The Northern Irishman was stunningly dominant at Portimao, taking the lead inside the first lap and crossing the line comfortably ahead of Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in second and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in third.
There was drama very early on at Portimao for polesitter Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia). The Irishman had started from the front for the first time since 2013, but a slow move off the blocks saw him get caught up in the field of riders behind at turn 1. A few seconds later, Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) misjudged his turn, clashing with Laverty and taking both men out early.
Jonathan Rea took advantage of the early chaos, flying into the lead ahead of Melandri through the exit from turn 1, with Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) – in search of his first podium finish in WorldSBK – close behind, while Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) suddenly found the form that had evaded him since Friday, shooting up to fifth position inside one lap from fourteenth on the grid.
While Rea was eventually beaten for the Superpole earlier in the day, the Northern Irishman’s strength at Portimao this weekend and at the official test three weeks ago is his unbelievable consistency. Coupled with the best overall pace on track – keeping his lap times under 1’43 for the entire first half of the race – there was no stopping Rea in Race One, as he swept away into a 2-3 second gap.
There was promise of a thrilling tricolore battle behind for second, but it lasted just half the race: Savadori slid out at the end of the main straight in lap 12 and put an end to a miserable afternoon for the Milwaukee Aprilia team, just hours after their best qualifying performance of 2018.
With one Italian out, the other, Melandri strolled to his best result since the Acerbis Czech Round in second, turning good pace into a fantastic result. Michael van der Mark, completing a quiet yet professional race behind, took the remaining podium place, his eighth of the season; Davies followed with an incredibly valuable fourth place that takes him straight to P1 on tomorrow’s grid, in what had previously been a very difficult race weekend.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made it to the checkered flag in fifth, completing a solid points haul for the green machines. Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) meanwhile finished Race One in sixth, his best result since returning to WorldSBK this season.
Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) celebrated his future debut in MotoGP™ with seventh position at the Portuguese rollercoaster, which pushes him ahead of Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) in the championship standings, after a mechanical failure ended the Brit’s race early.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the best independent rider in Race One at Portimao, coming in eighth and just ahead of fellow 2018 debutant Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in ninth. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) completed the top ten after struggling through the early stages of the race.
Race Two in Algarve kicks off at a later time tomorrow as the grand finale of the Nolan Portuguese Round.
Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) will return to the front row for the first time since Donington Park back in May after taking pole position at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. The Frenchman was inches away from beating the lap record for an FIM Supersport World Championship machine and will resume his championship challenge in style after a couple of disappointing rounds.
Mahias will be accompanied on the front row by teammate Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), who arrived at Portimao off the back of his first win of the season. The Italian starts in second and will be feeling confident for the Portuguese showdown tomorrow.
WorldSSP championship leader Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) will complete the front row in Sunday’s race, just ahead of main championship rival Jules Cluzel (NRT) in fourth. The pair are again evenly matched for the ninth round of the season and will be prepared for another titanic tussle, with just five points separating them in the standings.
Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) starts in fifth tomorrow in Algarve, in search of his sixth consecutive podium finish and after qualifying through Superpole 1; Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) meanwhile closes row two in sixth position and will again have to fight back to keep his championship options alive.
Seventh on the grid on Sunday will go to Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), the first Honda machine in qualifying, ahead of Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag). Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will begin from the back of row three in ninth position, while Hannes Soomer (Racedays) confirmed his best Superpole performance of 2018 with the tenth fastest time on Saturday. WorldSSP debutant Hector Barbera (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) will start from thirteenth on the Portimao grid.
Lights out for the ninth race of the season is at 13:45 local time (12:45 GMT) tomorrow.
Tom Edwards (Nutec- Benjan – Kawasaki) will lead the line on Sunday at the penultimate FIM Supersport 300 World Championship race of the season after putting in a fantastic lap 1’56.877 in Superpole 2 at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, ahead of the two Yamahas of Daniel Valle (BCD Yamah MS Racing) and Manuel González (BCD Pertamina Junior Team by MS Racing).
The 17-year-old becomes the first Australian to win a WorldSSP300 Tissot Superpole, and also the first Australian to take a pole in any WorldSBK competition since Broc Parkes in WorldSSP back in 2012. His previous best qualifying performance was tenth at MotorLand Aragon.
He leads row one ahead of the Spanish duo of Valle and González, who will also be making their first front row starts in 2018. Row two sees Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) in fourth, ahead of Dorren Loureiro (DS Junior Team) in fifth, and the returning Robert Schotman (Motoport Kawasaki) in sixth after qualifying from Superpole 1.
Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) leads row three in seventh, ahead of Maria Herrera (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) in eighth, and championship leader Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) in ninth. The Murcian faces her first chance to become World Champion at Portimao starting just ahead of her main championship rival Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), who finished at the back of Superpole 2 in twelfth.
Carrasco faces the opportunity to make motorcycling history tomorrow at 12:45 local time (11:45 GMT).
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