PORTIMAO, Portugal – Changeable weather played a big role in the eighth round of the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at Portimao’s Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on Sunday. This year’s Portuguese races were held in opposite track conditions and saw different podium finishers in the two encounters.
Reigning champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) won a dry Race 1 ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) and teammate Loris Baz, while in Race 2 Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) was victorious under wet conditions, with the Ducati Superbike Team duo Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies completing the top-three.
The main turn of events of the day took place in the second encounter, when Marco Melandri and Sylvain Guintoli collided and crashed on lap 13 following an overtaking attempt by the Frenchman on the Italian rider. Guintoli was able to rejoin the race, eventually finishing in seventh position, while Melandri’s charge to the top drew to a close on the run off area of the track.
Sykes, who was eighth at the finish line in Race 2, took advantage of this situation and now leads the title race by 43 points over Guintoli, as the series heads to Laguna Seca for the second back to back round before the summer break.
“I had a poor start in race one and it is a long race round here, long enough race to make some corrections,” Sykes said. “I am happy because we had a good gap then the rain started to come. I didn’t want to do anything stupid and it was very difficult to calculate the levels of grip because in some parts of the circuit it was raining more heavily than in others. Luckily the cloud disappeared with a good amount of laps left, to go so I could take an advantage again.
“In the wet of race two we had some issues but I cannot be disappointed because we have shown great potential. There was too much for me to lose today. Some other riders made mistakes and so I extended my championship lead.”
An enthralling 20-lap race one saw Sykes claim his seventh win of the season and the 21st of his WSBK career.
At the start it was Rea that took the holeshot, leading for the opening three laps before Sykes and Melandri overtook him into turn one at the start of lap four.
By half-distance the constant swapping of positions had allowed reigning champion Sykes to stretch his lead to three seconds, before seconds later the white flag was waved to indicate that rain was beginning to fall.
Behind the leader five riders that included Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Davies and Guintoli, Leon Haslam on the second of the Pata Honda’s slowly began to close the gap, giving the fans a six-rider group battling for the podium places.
Haslam collided with Davies, both riders able to remount with Davies later retiring. Haslam eventually finished 11th.
At the front Guintoli had elevated himself to second and began to quickly reduce the gap to Sykes before he responded to retain a lead of two seconds until the flag. Guintoli made his return to the podium in second ahead of compatriot Baz, with Melandri fourth.
Rea faded to a lonely fifth ahead of Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki), who passed Ducati’s Davide Giugliano and his team mate Eugene Laverty on the final lap to finish sixth.
Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team) and David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) were never more than 0.1s apart for the entire race with Salom eventually coming out on top by 0.014s on the line to claim the EVO honours.
Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) crashed out after improving from his lowly grid position while Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki), Geoff May (Team Hero EBR), both Grillini Kawasaki riders Bryan Staring and Sheridan Morais, and Peter Sebestyen (Team Toth BMW) all retired.
The second race of the day at Portimao was held in tricky conditions as the rain which began during the Supersport race continued to fall at the Portuguese circuit.
A resurgent Rea romped home as the winner in a race reduced to 18 laps after Guintoli and his team mate Melandri collided at turn five in the closing stages.
Behind Rea, Giugliano was a lonely second with Davies snatching the final podium spot from Lowes and Haslam after an enthralling final few laps in which third position changed several times. Baz finished sixth.
Race one winner Sykes finished race two a lowly eighth after dropping back through the pack. He was passed on the penultimate lap by the recovering Guintoli.
In the EVO battle the honours in race two went to Barrier, the Frenchman finishing 11th overall.
After a titanic race at Portimao Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport Team) took the eighth round victory in this year’s World Supersport championship after overcoming immense pressure from Jack Kennedy (CIA Insurance Honda) and former champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Mahi India Racing Team) who completed the podium.
Misano race winner Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) looked like making it a four-rider fight before the Frenchman overshot at turn three before eventually retiring.
The opening half of the race gave the fans a real treat with some of the closest WSS racing of the year before championship leader Van Der Mark edged clear in the closing stages to win his fourth race of the year after a red flag because of rain stopped the race on lap 13. Sunday’s result means that the Dutchman has never finished lower than second all season with the exception of his Phillip Island crash.
For Kennedy it was his first podium finish after moving into World Supersport, the Irishman finally showing his true potential.
Behind the top three Raffaele de Rosa rode well to bring the second CIA Insurance Honda home in fourth ahead of PJ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) and Lorenzo Zanetti. (Pata Honda World Supersport Team).
On a drying Portimao circuit Lorenzo Savadri (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) took victory in Sunday’s FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup race after easing way in the final laps from Matthieu Lussiana (Team Garnier by ASPI Kawasaki), who was back on the podium in second and David McFadden (MRS Kawasaki) who overcome the challenge from Kyle Smith (Agro-On WIL Racedays Honda) to take his first ever podium.
Smith was therefore fourth ahead of American Josh Day, who was a lonely fifth on the second Agro-On Wil Racedays Honda.
With only two races of the series remaining, Leandro Mercado (Barni Racing Team) has lost his championship lead and heads to the penultimate round in Jerez second in the standings after finishing a lowly ninth in Sunday’s race.
Augusto Fernandez (WIL Sport) once again came out victorious in the Pata European Junior Cup race at Portimao by edging eight rivals at the end of a thrilling battle up to the finish line. With only 0.065s separating the top-five at the chequered flag, Angelo Licciardi (S.E.F.A.B Racing) and Javier Orellana (Europ Food S.L.) claimed the remaining podium positions, while Illan Fernandez (Evo Kids Racing) and Jesper Hubner (Honda Sweden) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
With two races to go in the season, Fernandez leads with a 27-point advantage on Orellana, who is the only other title contender left.
World Superbike Race One Results
1.Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 20 Laps/91.840km in 34:45.568 (158.529km/h)
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +2.539
3. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +3.175
4. Marco Melandri (Aprilia) +4.042
5. Jonathan Rea (Honda) +7.791
6. Alex Lowes (Suzuki) +14.772
7. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +14.877
8. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) +14.941
9. David Salom (Kawasaki) +26.018
10. Sylvain Barrier (BMW) +26.032
11. Leon Haslam (Honda) +33.041
12. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) +38.385
13. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +42.237
14. Riccardo Russo (Kawasaki) +47.908
15. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki) +1:03.502
16. Aaron Yates (EBR) +1 Lap
17. Gabor Rizmayer (BMW) +1 Lap
18. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +5 Laps
NC. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki)
RT. Peter Sebestyen (BMW)
RT. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki)
RT. Toni Elias (Aprilia)
RT. Fabien Foret (Kawasaki)
RT. Geoff May (EBR)
World Superbike Race Two Results
1.Jonathan Rea (Honda) 18 Laps/82.656km in 34:55.154 (142.024km/h)
2. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) +6.817
3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) +8.676
4. Alex Lowes (Suzuki) +9.740
5. Leon Haslam (Honda) +11.289
6. Loris Baz (Kawasaki) +11.808
7. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia) +14.169
8. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) +17.164
9. Eugene Laverty (Suzuki) +26.406
10. Toni Elias (Aprilia) +30.168
11. Sylvain Barrier (BMW) +41.820
12. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki) +47.434
13. Jeremy Guarnoni (Kawasaki) +50.045
14. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) +1:17.436
15. Riccardo Russo (Kawasaki) +1:24.500
16. Alessandro Andreozzi (Kawasaki) +1:30.563
17. David Salom (Kawasaki) +1:34.242
18. Niccolo Canepa (Ducati) +1:34.647
19. Gabor Rizmayer (BMW) +1:47.422
RT. Marco Melandri (Aprilia)
RT. Geoff May (EBR)
RT. Aaron Yates (EBR)
NS. Peter Sebestyen (BMW)
World Superbike Standings / Top 20 (Round 8 of 13)
1.Tom Sykes 284
2. Sylvain Guintoli 241
3. Loris Baz 236
4. Jonathan Rea 235
5. Marco Melandri 192
6. Chaz Davies 159
7. Davide Giugliano 140
8. Eugene Laverty 121
9. Toni Elias 115
10. Leon Haslam 115
11. Alex Lowes 111
12. David Salom 74
13. Niccolo Canepa 46
14. Leon Camier 30
15. Jeremy Guarnoni 26
16. Sylvain Barrier 17
17. Luca Scassa 16
18. Fabien Foret 14
19. Sheridan Morais 14
20. Claudio Corti 13
–From the World SBK Press Office