WorldSBK Race One: Flawless Rea extends Portimao winning streak
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, completed 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 landed him pole for Sunday’s grid, in what had previously been a very difficult race weekend.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) made it to the chequered 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.
WorldSBK Race 1 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 2. Marco Melandri – Ducati 3. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha
WorldSBK Race Two: Rea needs 34 points to clinch the title after a tremendous victory
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) showed tremendous composure once again to win his seventh consecutive race at the Portuguese circuit of Algarve and his sixth consecutive win in this year’s MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, after a thrilling battle through two thirds of the race with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). Rea eventually beat off the Welshman, and then faced and fought off Michael van der Mark. The Pata Yamaha rider took second, while Ducati’s Marco Melandri was third, and Davies crossed in fourth.
A brilliant start from Rea pushed him straight up to third inside lap one, with Davies and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) keeping their grid positions in one and two. Flying past his teammate in lap three, the Northern Irishman embarked on a stunning duel with Davies.
The battle quickly became tougher than Rea would have preferred. A first strike at the beginning of lap eight saw Davies defend his position on the exit of turn 1; two laps later, Rea dashed into the slipstream again, this time successfully, but the Ducati found the space to counterattack at the braking point of turn 5. Meanwhile, Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) closed into a mere few tenths of a second of the squabbling pair, with van der Mark also moving near.
The pressure eventually got to the Welshman, however, in lap 12: Davies went wide at turn 10, being comfortably passed by the Kawasaki with no chance to respond. Melandri tried a move on his teammate for second on the return through the main straight, but both went in too hot, leaving the door open for the trailing Yamaha to swoop in and climb to second in one smooth move.
With the memory of their stunning battles at Assen and Donington Park fresh in the minds of all WorldSBK fans, Rea and van der Mark set out for another thriller. The reigning champion’s pace was however just too strong for the Dutchman to surpass at this point, and he remains undefeated since Laguna Seca.
Melandri secured third place at the flag, joining Rea and van der Mark on the podium for the third consecutive race. While Davies’ pace faded off after his mid-race battles, the Welshman did manage to hold off Sykes for fourth position and complete a good weekend considering the circumstances leading up to the Portuguese round.
“It’s mad, I can’t quite believe it right now, we knew coming here a few weeks ago for the test that we were quite strong in the hot conditions. All weekend we kept the same bike and I just tried to adapt my style to the track”.
Admitted Melandri post-race.
After a comfortable race one win, Rea enjoyed the tough battle on Sunday with Davies.
“In those early laps I had such a good pace to arrive with Chaz, but then my pace dropped because I couldn’t find a way past. He was like an animal on the brakes, and all the areas where I was fast he was also fast, so I had to get creative with the passing. In the end I found a nice one at turn 10 at the top of the hill and it stuck”.
Facing his first opportunity to take the title in France, Rea is clear.
“The target is to try and win the championship at Magny-Cours. Right now, we’re on the way. At this point it’s my championship to lose, by stupidity or making mistakes. I want to try and do the best I can every weekend and limit mistakes. That target’s in sight now”.
Further down the field, Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) made amends for his mistake in race one by rising to sixth in Sunday’s race, one position ahead of his teammate Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia). Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) was the best independent rider on track at Portimao, crossing the line in eight
Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) couldn’t keep hold of his front row start and finishes race two in ninth position, just ahead of Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in tenth and eleventh, respectively.
The KRT leader now holds a 116-point lead over Davies in the championship standings, meaning that he could clinch his fourth crown in race one or two at Magny-Cours in two weeks’ time. With six races remaining and unbeaten since Laguna Seca, Rea needs just 34 points from here onwards to claim the title.
WorldSBK Race 2 Results: 1. Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 2. Michael van der Mark – Yamaha 3. Marco Melandri – Ducati
WorldSBK Championship Standings
1. Jonathan Rea – 420 points (Kawasaki) 2. Chaz Davies – 304 points (Ducati) 3. Michael van der Mark – 284 points (Yamaha) 4. Tom Sykes – 240 points (Kawasaki) 5. Marco Melandri – 229 points (Ducati)
WorldSSP: Caricasulo victorious, Italian benefits from last lap puncture for Mahias to take second consecutive win after red flags end race one lap early
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) has scored an important win at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve ahead of the impressive Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), in perhaps the most extraordinary and bizarre race end in FIM Supersport World Championship history, after Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) was denied a return to the top of the rostrum twice in the space of five minutes.
A lightning start from Jules Cluzel (NRT) at the lights moved him immediately into first place. It lasted just one lap however, as Mahias made good use of slipstream to move back in front at the exit from the main straight.
Then, disaster struck: championship leader Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) attempted a move into second at turn 5, another in a series of stunning battles that both men have held this year. But this was one move too many: the German slipped, taking both him and Cluzel out. A racing incident that nonetheless harmed the Frenchman the most, as he was forced to abandon while Cortese, holding on to his machine all the way down, managed to recover and head back in pursuit of some points.
With their two strongest rivals out of action, this ninth race of the season quickly turned into a GRT battle. Separated by just a point in the standings and with both riders in search of their second race win of 2018, Mahias rapidly opened a one second gap with Caricasulo, taking the fastest lap of the race along the way, and entered the final lap with a comfortable lead.
What happened next was almost too ludicrous to describe. A puncture going through the final straight for Mahias apparently put his race to an end in dramatic fashion, a heartbreaking final twist in a tough season for the reigning champion.
But then the red flags came out: Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) and Borja Quero Martínez (EMPERADOR Racing Team) had crashed together at turn 11 in the previous lap, meaning that the results going into the penultimate lap of 18 would be final. As long as every rider makes it back to the pits within five minutes of the official race end.
With his machine still rolling, Mahias set out around the Portuguese track without a rear tyre, for perhaps the longest lap of his career. In incredible conditions and crashing twice along the way, Mahias made it to the pits in what he initially thought was within the time limit – but it was not. As such, everyone moved up a place, with Caricasulo taking an unlikely yet incredibly valuable second consecutive win, and an exhausted Mahias was left with no points for his efforts.
British rider Kyle Smith managed to move up to second with this, taking his first podium of the season and the first for a Honda bike, after overtaking De Rosa – who has now strung six consecutive podium finishes together – for third in the late stages of the race.
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) takes fourth in the final results, a good result for the Swiss rider after a poor start. Hidden beneath all the late drama, Cortese made it to the flag in an incredible fifth position despite that lap two crash and increases his championship lead against all odds.
Hannes Soomer (Racedays) concluded a fantastic weekend for the Estonian with sixth place, ahead of Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in seventh and Thomas Gradinger (NRT) in eighth, with Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth and Hector Barberà (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) tenth in his WorldSSP debut.
WorldSSP Race Results: 1. Federico Caricasulo – Yamaha 2. Kyle Smith – Honda 3. Raffaele De Rosa – MV Agusta
WorldSSP Championship Standings
1. Sandro Cortese – 149 points (Yamaha) 2. Jules Cluzel – 133 points (Yamaha) 3. Federico Caricasulo – 129 points (Yamaha) 4. Randy Krummenacher – 129 points (Yamaha) 5. Raffaele De Rosa – 119 points (MV Agusta)