#PRTWorldSBK – Sunday roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300
A thrilling Race 2 at Portimao fired the championship race back into life as Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) overcame a poor start and a shoulder injury to triumph over Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in a final lap run to the line. With plenty of drama from lights out and slipstreaming battles soon following, groups were scattered right through the field and provided a packed Portimao plenty of action.
Off the line and it was a blissful start for Rea from pole position but a disaster for Alvaro Bautista, who plunged down the order to sixth place after Lap 1. Toprak Razgatlioglu was a fast starter and up to second, ahead of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Alex Lowes was fourth (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and teammate Michael van der Mark was fifth, ahead Bautista – but the Spaniard was right in the hunt as the group remainder close together.
Bautista soon began his comeback, first picking off Michael van der Mark down the front straight at the end of Lap 1, before picking off Alex Lowes two laps later. The comeback continued and he hit third a lap later, before slicing ahead of Jonathan Rea to momentarily lead with 15 to go. But Toprak Razgatlioglu had other ideas, as the Turkish rider hit the front of the field.
With Razgatlioglu and Bautista leading, Rea had to try and find a way to react to the change of the guard at the front. Leon Haslam was still in the mix with the two Pata Yamahas just sat behind, with the front six covered by just one second. A lap later, the horsepower of the Ducati propelled Alvaro Bautista back into the lead of a race for the first time since Misano, and the Spaniard soon began to put the hammer down.
Jonathan Rea fought back on his fellow Kawasaki rider Toprak Razgatlioglu, but whilst he closed up on Bautista, he wasn’t able to make a move on the Spaniard. Further back and at half race distance, isolation of the leading six began to set in. Alex Lowes made his move on Leon Haslam with 10 to go, after the ‘Pocket Rocket’ lost an entire second to his fellow Brit.
One rider to watch was Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) as he closed on the battle for fourth. Behind them, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) were squabbling over ninth, just behind Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK).
With the gap between Bautista and Rea extending to over a second, and Razgatlioglu sat in a safe third place – barring acts of God – the big battle on track was for fourth, with Alex Lowes and Leon Haslam swapping places with five laps to go. At Turn 3, Michael van der Mark parked his Yamaha in the way of Haslam, bringing Loris Baz right into play. Haslam fought back however, and a lap later at Turn 5 he was back into fifth place and chasing after Alex Lowes.
In the closing laps, the race began to come alive at the front, with Rea lapping quicker than Bautista and the gap coming down to less than a second, although with two laps left to run, it was beginning to look a little bit late for Rea to return to the front. However, his teammate – Leon Haslam was climbing all over Alex Lowes in the battle for fourth.
On the final lap, the gap at the front closed dramatically and Jonathan Rea was right with the Spaniard, but on the run to the line, Ducati power prevailed over Rea’s resilience. Bautista was back on top and took the verdict, winning for the first time at Portimao. Rea was second and Toprak Razgatlioglu took a tenth career podium in third. Alex Lowes held-off Leon Haslam but Loris Baz made it to sixth and beat Michael van der Mark. Lowes therefore returns to the third overall.
Marco Melandri putting in a hearty effort for eighth place, whilst Tom Sykes was able to beat Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in the remaining places inside the top ten. Jordi Torres was eleventh and couldn’t return to the top ten, with Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) and Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) completing the points.
The gap comes down to 91 points in the championship race, but the battle for third is well and truly alive, with 45 points covering third to seventh. Who will come out on top in both battles however, is yet to be seen.
The FIM Supersport World Championship never fails and Portimao was no exception in a thrilling 18-lap battle. Before the race had started, there was already drama as ESS champion-elect Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) started from the back of the grid for going over his engine allocation. Back at the front however, it was yet another championship battle to remember. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) made more ground up on his teammate Randy Krummenacher, taking the win and edging closer to the championship lead.
It was a bright start to the race for all of the main riders, with Federico Caricasulo able to hold off a fast-starting Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Both GMT94 YAMAHA riders Jules Cluzel and Corentin Perolari were the biggest improvers, with Cluzel fourth from eighth and Perolari sixth from 13th. The only rider splitting them was an injured Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), who dropped to fifth. At the end of Lap 1, the leading group consisted of seven riders and they were split by just a second.
It was a disaster for Kyle Smith and Christian Stange (GEMAR Ciociaria Corse WorldSSP Team), a the two crashed at Turn 1, ending Smith’s chances of becoming ESS champion. Back at the front and Caricasulo started to try and break away, with the fastest lap of the race. However, Lucas Mahias and Randy Krummenacher soon caught him back up, with the Swiss rider dispatching of Jules Cluzel and Isaac Viñales, who was suffering from a technical problem. It would prove to be terminal, and Viñales was out a lap later. Cluzel was still in the fight in fourth.
With 12 laps left to run, Krummenacher made his move and took second from Mahias at Turn 1. The Swiss rider was now all over the rear end of his teammate, whilst Mahias and Cluzel watched on to try and pick up the pieces. Setting faster lap times in fifth place was Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), whilst Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) was continuing to have a strong weekend and fought his way into sixth. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was seventh, ahead of Perolari, wildcard Miquel Pons (H43 Team NOBBY TALASUR-BLUMAQ) and Frenchman Jules Danilo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
The dynamic at the front was developing and Krummenacher’s strong part of the circuit was the final corner and his pace down the front straight, whilst Caricasulo was strong in the braking areas. However, at Turn 1 with 9 laps left to go, Krummenacher took the lead from his teammate and immediately upped the pace. This fragmented the group and it was a BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team duel at the front once again. Behind the duo, De Rosa was now fourth ahead of Cluzel, passing the Frenchman at Turn 1 the following lap.
The race settled down and Caricasulo had his opportunity to study his teammate, with the Italian strong on entry to corners and Krummenacher strong on the exit. Cluzel had been dropped in the battle for the podium, meaning it was between Mahias and De Rosa. However, with six to go, Mahias moved closer to the leading duo whilst De Rosa had a massive moment on the exit of Turn 1, somehow saving an almost certain crash. The Italian retired a lap later.
Meanwhile at the front, Caricasulo had retaken the race lead and got back ahead of Randy Krummenacher. This would prove to be a race-winning move as a red flag was soon shown for De Rosa’s technical issue. With the race more than two-thirds complete and Caricasulo leading at the last timing point, the race win went to the Italian, ahead of Krummenacher and Mahias – the top three as they started on the grid. Jules Cluzel was fourth and completing the top five, Ayrton Badovini.
Behind that, it was Corentin Perolari ahead of Hikari Okubo, whilst in eighth, it was a best result of his WorldSSP career for Jules Danilo. Completing the top ten, Belgian rider Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) got the better of Miquel Pons.
The gap in the championship comes down once again to just ten points, entering the final three rounds of the season. Jules Cluzel is 48 points behind, still in with a mathematical chance of his first WorldSSP championship. Meanwhile, the teams’ championship went to the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team, with their fourth one-two finish of the season.
It was an all-action start with Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) heading the front from Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) and Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) at Turn 1. Miraculously, everyone made it through the opening few corners, with Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT), Beatriz Neila (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) and her teammate Andy Verdoïa all making good starts and looking like potential winners. The first crashers occurred at Turn 1 on the second lap, with Jeffrey Buis (MTM Racing Team) and Keon Meuffels (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) crashing heavily.
The race continued and after a few laps of front-straight slipstreaming, it was a break-away at the front of the field with Scott Deroue and Manuel Gonzalez escaping from the chasing pack. However, one rider who had made stunning progress was Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) carving his way into third, ahead of Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team), who led momentarily in the opening laps.
With the focus on the championship, if Scott Deroue finished first or second to Manuel Gonzalez, then the championship would stay alive. It became a game of mathematics to see exactly what could happen. If Gonzalez won and Carrasco and Verdoïa were not able to finish second, they’d be ruled out of the championship race. Meanwhile, in the manufacturers’ championship, a Kawasaki one-two would ensure them the crown.
The last lap was soon upon the WorldSSP300 class, and going into Turn 5, Scott Deroue hit the front. Gonzalez wasn’t giving up however and tried to pass at the final corner, but he wasn’t able to make it work. Scott Deroue clinched his first race win of the season, putting Gonzalez’ championship celebrations on ice. Ana Carrasco was able to finish third and thus stayed in the championship fight. Marc Garcia was able to finish fourth whilst Andy Verdoïa’s fifth place wasn’t enough to keep him in the championship fight.
It was an all-out brawl further down and finishing in sixth position, Ukrainian Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki), ahead of Beatriz Neila, who took her best ever finish in WorldSSP300. Galang Hendra Pratama slipped to eighth place in the end, ahead of Donington Park race winner Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) and early race leader, Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team).
Meanwhile, the 2019 WorldSSP300 manufacturers’ championship was wrapped up for a second season running by Kawasaki, with a dominant 1-2-3-4 finish confirming their prowess in the feeder class.