WorldSBK Superpole and Race 1 took place today from Algarve International Circuit, Portimão, Portugal with the reigning Champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) taking pole position by nearly three tenths of a second with Toprak Razgatlioglu (PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team) taking second place and Rea’s teammate, Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), slotting into third place.
Last weekend’s Race 2 winner, Scott Redding (ARUBA.IT – Racing Ducati); took a tumble at Turn 5 but was able to get back on the track and to the pits for some quick repairs by his team before getting back out on the track again to finish in 8th place.
The top independent rider, Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), secured a second row start with his impressive pace with the highest place Honda of Leon Haslam (Team HRC) in tenth position. Haslam’s teammate, Alvaro Bautista crashed in Sector 3 and, like Redding, he was able to get the bike back on track and to the pits.
After a tense session the starting grid looked like this:
Row 1 : Rea : Razgatlioglu : Lowes Row 2: Sykes : van der Mark : Baz
Row 3 : Rinaldi : Redding : Laverty Row 4 : Haslam : Gerloff : Bautista
Row 5 : Davies : Cortese : Fores Row 6 : Caricasulo : Scheib : Mercado
Row 7 : Melandri : Barrier : Takahashi Row 8 : Ponsson : Gabellini
With 20 laps of racing, Race 1 gets underway with Rea getting off to a great start with the opposite happening for Redding who, by the first corner is down two places. Sykes on his BMW has a full on wobble nearly losing it at Turn 4 but incredibly recovers and stays on track. Lowes has dropped back into 4th and Redding is now in 6th by Turn 6 and along with Lowes is now closing in on van der Mark.
Rinaldi and Haslam got off to a good start but by Lap 2 Sykes is down to 9th having started from 4th place but manages to make up a place by Lap 3. Rea has set the fastest lap and is now starting to pull away from Razgatlioglu in 2nd place.
Lap 4 sees Redding pass Lowes but then, Redding runs wide and Lowes takes the place back but Redding is all over Lowes looking to get back past. At Turn 11 Redding manages to pass Lowes and this time he makes it stick.
Third place is now being fought over by Baz, van der Mark and Redding with some incredible racing taking place with the Ducati all over the Yamahas and at one point they are neck and neck but still holding their positions. Van der Mark has a huge wobble and how he managed to hold onto it and his place is incredible.
Lap 6 sees van der Mark running wide and losing two places allowing Redding up into 4th and Lowes into 5th.
On the start-finish straight on Lap 8 Redding passes Baz in a very smooth overtake on the inside and then on the following lap Baz runs wide allowing Lowes and van der Mark to nip past. Meanwhile Redding’s teammate, Davies, is not having a good race at all and has now dropped back to 14th.
By Lap 11 van der Mark is hot on the heels of Redding fighting for position and Baz is now down into 7th place having been passed by Lowes on Lap 12 who is closing in on van der Mark and Redding. The fight for 3rd place is edge of the seat racing.
Rea, by Lap 15, has now pulled out a 4 second lead ahead of Razgatlioglu, both of whom are having a very controlled and smooth race.
Lowes has gone up the inside of Redding and now Rinaldi is having a look. Lap 16 sees Redding run wide, Rinaldi tries to get past on the inside but doesn’t manage it. Lowes is edging away from Redding and the battle for fifth is hotting up.
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On Lap 19 Rinaldi passes Redding and they both run wide with Rinaldi managing to stay ahead but Baz slips past Redding up into 6th place with Sykes now having a look to see if he can pass by too.
It’s the final lap and Redding is looking to get back past Baz but Baz is managing to hold the Ducati off for now. Rea crosses the finish line easily in 1st position followed by Razgatlioglu, van der Mark and Lowes. Baz managed to hold off Redding to finish 6th with Redding down in 7th.
Fantastic racing in Race 1, Race 2 is going to be nail biting!
Featured image courtesy of Yamaha Racing