The Acerbis Portuguese Round welcomed the first race of the weekend with World Superbike Race 1, with the sun still shining brightly and the WorldSBK grid ready for their return to action. With Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) starting from pole, the Ulsterman made it an eighth consecutive win at Portimao, with three different manufacturers on the Race 1 Portimao podium.
With the race getting underway, it was Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) got the holeshot and took the lead into Turn 1 but there was drama behind. A lunge from Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) saw him barge his own teammate Alvaro Bautista out of the way, forcing Bautista right down to 18th place after the Spaniard tagged the back of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team).
By the end of Lap 1, it was Rea leading Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Chaz Davies was up to fourth and Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) made a bright start in fifth.
At the end of Lap 3, Davies and van der Mark had disposed of Leon Haslam, with the Kawasaki rider fading. But two laps later, and Davies had got ahead of Tom Sykes at Turn 1, with van der Mark taking advantage at Turn 3 before Haslam took the 2013 WorldSBK champion at Turn 6. On the front straight, Razgatlioglu got ahead of Sykes at the end of the lap, capping off a bad lap for the Huddersfield rider. Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) was the first crasher of the race at Turn 8 but remounted and was back racing.
Further back, Bautista was caught up behind Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in the battle for ninth, with the two veterans of motorcycle racing swapping paint between Turn 9 and 12. However, Bautista made it ahead at the end of the lap and soon, got ahead of Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK). Back in the fight for fourth, and it was Tom Sykes who crashed at Turn 13, not the way he wanted to celebrate a contract extension for 2020. Sykes re-joined and was back in the points by the halfway distance.
Whilst they scrapped it out for the remaining podium positions, Jonathan Rea had already built up a lead of over three seconds and was well on his way for an eighth consecutive Portimao victory. Unrivalled, untouched and unbelievable dominant, Rea had come into his own in Portugal.
With 11 laps to go and with tyre life now becoming a factor, Razgatlioglu made his move at Turn 3 and got ahead of Leon Haslam. The Independent rider was ahead of the factory rider and now, Razgatliolgu had two seconds ahead of him until the podium battle between Davies and van der Mark. In seventh place, Alvaro Bautista was beginning to close on Alex Lowes, who was having a quiet race in sixth position. Bautista was the fastest rider on track, in a race of ‘what could’ve been’.
With nine laps to go, Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) came into the pits to end what had been a disappointing race. The Irishman was on pole at the Portimao venue in 2018 but that kind of success had been far away a year later. Back in the battle for fourth and Leon Haslam had got back ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu and began to edge clear with seven laps to go. But now, a new threat was very much in the fight: Alvaro Bautista was taking chunks out of the gap, lapping nearly a second a lap quicker.
At Turn 5 with six to go, Bautista took advantage of Lowes’ error as the British rider ran in too deep; Bautista was now sixth. Further up, the battle for second had calmed, with Davies seemingly able to break away from van der Mark. Bautista cleared Razgatlioglu with three laps to go on the straight and tried to get ahead of Haslam at Turn 3, but the Brit held on and toughed it out through Turn 4, as the three battled hard. A lap later and Bautista used the top speed of the Ducati and took fourth from Haslam, where he would stay until the chequered flag.
Across the line, it was Jonathan Rea who took the win and extended his championship lead to 94 points. Chaz Davies was a safe second from 12th on the grid and van der Mark a settled third. Bautista came home fourth ahead of Leon Haslam, whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu faded to finish in sixth, but all the way from 13th on the grid to finish as top Independent. Alex Lowes was seventh, ahead of Sandro Cortese, Marco Melandri and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), just edging out Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) to complete the top ten.
Next out on the circuit was the World Supersport field, with the focus on the championship battle between BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team of Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo. In recent rounds, the momentum has been firmly with Caricasulo but Krummenacher still held the championship lead. Heading into the race tomorrow, it is Caricasulo who starts on pole.
Randy Krummenacher was the rider who slotted in at the top spot, ahead of the surprise package of Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), the Spaniard making his debut at the Algarve International Circuit. Kyle Smith’s strong weekend looked set to continue in the early stages, as the British rider was up as high as third once everyone had settled down with the opening times. There was a crash for Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) at Turn 14 but the Italian made it back to the pits. At Turn 11 in the final 10 minutes, Isaac Viñales crashed but was unscathed in the incident.
As the session came to an end, Caricasulo hit pole position, ahead of Krummenacher and Viñales. However, there was still plenty of opportunity for change, as the Kawasaki charge was strong, being led by Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), with Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini), Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Kyle Smith all lining up behind the trio of Yamahas at the front. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) needed a strong lap in the closing stages, languishing down in eighth.
On his final lap, Federico Caricasulo blasted in a very quick time, storming to the fastest lap of the weekend and putting himself 0.4s clear of the chasing bunch and securing back-to-back poles for the first time this season. Krummenacher was only able to achieve second position as he is recovering from nagging injuries picked up from Friday, whilst Lucas Mahias was back on the front row again in third.
Leading the charge from row two, despite a crash, Isaac Viñales was fourth and impressive on his return to action after eight weeks off in the summer. Raffaele De Rosa’s issues earlier on in the session saw him elevate up the order to the middle of row two in fifth, whilst Ayrton Badovini made it three Italians in the top six and completed row two. Kawasaki and MV AGUSTA are certainly bringing the charge to Yamaha at the front of the grid.
Row three features Japanese star Hikari Okubo, who is yet to start from outside the top nine in 2019. Joining him on the third row, it was a disaster for Jules Cluzel who starts just eighth after winning last time out at Donington Park. Britain’s Kyle Smith was ninth, as he looks to secure the Europe Supersport Cup crown this weekend. Completing the top ten is Jules Danilo (CIA Landlord Insurance), making it all four manufacturers represented inside the top ten. Wildcard Miquel Pons (H43 Team NOBBY TALASUR-BLUMAQ) was 11th.
After a lengthy break, it was time for the riders to dial themselves back in across both the groups in their 20-minute sessions. The top 30 would make it through to the main race on Sunday, whilst those outside of it would have to finish inside the top six of the Last Chance Race. Not needing to worry about that, it was Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) who stormed to pole position.
Group A saw two of the championship rivals clear at the top, with Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) topping the session ahead of Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300). The Indonesian riders lap time was an all-time lap record for the class at the circuit; Hendra Pratama had to give it his best shot, as he has a 12-place grid penalty to contend with for irresponsible riding at Donington Park. Manuel Bastianelli (Prodina IRCOS Kawasaki) was third ahead of Koen Meuffels (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), with four race winners in the top four after Group A Superpole.
Group B soon took to the circuit and the times were immediately right on those of Hendra Pratama. Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) was getting quicker and quicker early on, straight away going into second on the grid. Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) was also quick straight away, whilst Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) was also in the mix for pole position.
With just under 12 minutes to go, championship leader Gonzalez hit top spot on combined times but there was plenty of time left to run. Victor Steeman, who had been lapping consistently fast and looks to have good pace, took pole position away from Gonzalez five minutes later, as he chases his second pole position of his 2019 WorldSSP300 campaign. It was a disaster further down the field for Beatriz Neila (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), as she suffered a flat rear tyre with less than five minutes to go.
Manuel Gonzalez’ bid to become WorldSSP300 champion grew stronger as in the closing two minutes, he 17-year-old took pole position back from Steeman and remained ahead overall. Steeman took second place and Hendra Pratama was third from Group A but will start in 15th due to his 12-place grid penalty. This means that championship challenger Ana Carrasco will inherit a front row grid start. Scott Deroue finished fifth overall but will start from fourth, whilst Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) will start from fifth after completing the session sixth, whilst Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) will move onto the row two due to Hendra Pratama’s penalty.
Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) heads up the third row on the grid, ahead of Manuel Bastianelli and Beatriz Neila, who achieves her best grid position with tenth but will start ninth. Completing the top ten on the grid, Aragon 2018 race winner Koen Meuffels. It was a disaster for Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), who suffered two crashed and will start down in 29th position on Sunday.
Oliver König (ACCR Czech Talent Team – Willi Race) breezed clear to take the WorldSSP300 Last Chance Race win, as the battle ignited behind him. The Czech rider eased away in the early stages of the race and soon found himself away at the front of the field, whilst behind him, the positions from third back to sixth had not been sorted out. But who would come out on top?
With König away and running at the very front of the field, it would be Dion Otten (MTM Racing) who took second place, although he had little company in the closing stages of the race. Behind, however, the battle really had come alive in the closing stages. Mateo Pedeneau (Team MHP Racing – Patrick Pons) would get the better of his teammate Enzo De La Vega to take the final position in the top three, whilst both made it through to the main race tomorrow.
Bahattin Sofuoglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing by TSM), who ran fourth for most of the race was fifth in the end after a tricky final lap, but he held off Adrien Quinet (TGP Racing), who completely missed FP1 on Friday. Just missing out on racing action tomorrow was Marco Carusi (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), with the Italian coming home seventh.
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