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 Turn 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.
The top six following Race 1 of WorldSBK, full results here:
1) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
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