Portimao, Portugal – In the absence of team-mate and arch rival Tom Sykes, Jonathan Rea ran away with both World Superbike races at the 4.592km Autodromo Internacional do Algarve , winning each by about six seconds.
South African Sheridan Morais finished a hard-earned fourth in the World Supersport race, while Ana Carrasco made history, posting the first win by a female rider in the World Supersport 300 race, with South Africans Dorren Loureiro and Sam Lochoff - in his first international outing - 14th and 28th respectively, while fellow Capetonian Jared Schultz stayed home to focus on his upcoming matric finals.
Rea took his 10th win of 2017 with a fantastic ride that saw him dominate the race from pole and cross the line 6.189s seconds ahead of Ducati Team stars Chaz Davies and Marco Melandri – who just held off MV Agusta’s Leon Camier for third on the finish straight.
Rea was untouchable over the 20 lap contest as he shot away from the front of the grid and soon built up an unbridgeable lead. The win was Rea’s 18th podium in 19 races so far in 2017 this year and he now enjoys a 95 point lead at the head of the standings.
Davies recovered from a crash in practice to come from ninth on the grid for a creditable second place, beating team-mate Melandri across the line by almost four seconds. Melandri in turn beat Camier by just 0.342s as the MV Agusta rider chased him hard in the final stages of the race.
Michael van der Mark on the factory Pata Yamaha rounded out the top five ahead of Jordo Torres (BMW) and Aprilia team-mates Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori.
Privateers Xavi Fores (Ducati) and Roman Ramos (Kawasaki) completed the top 10 after Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes was ruled out for the weekend by a finger injury suffered in a crash during practice.
The second race saw Rea complete a perfect weekend, with victory by almost six seconds over Van der Mark, with Melandri rounding out the podium behind the leading pair.
Van der Mark was delighted with his first podium with Yamaha after he beat Melandri to the finish line by 3.367s. Just off the podium was Laverty, with Torres completing the top five.
Savadori, Leandro Mercado (Aprilia), Anthony West (Kawasaki), Ayrton Badovini (Kawasaki) and Takumi Takahashi (Honda) rounded out the top 10
In the absence of the injured Sykes and with Davies crashing out with three laps to go Rea edged closer to a third consecutive World Superbike title. The weekend could not have gone better for Rea as he secured pole position on Saturday, won both races, and wrapped up the 2017 Pirelli Best Lap Award title.
He was now leading the standings by 120 points over team-mate Sykes and could clinch the 2017 World Superbike title at Magny Cours in two weeks time.
Reigning champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) was in fine form as he notched up win number five of the season; he rode with caution in the early laps but ultimately beat championship rival Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) by just 0.08s, with Jules Cluzel (Honda) crossed the line in third.
Pole man Sofuoglu dropped back to fourth in the early stages with PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta) and Mahias contesting the lead and Cluzel also getting in the mix.
But Jacobsen would eventually fall back to finish fifth, behind fourth-placed Sheridan Morais (Yamaha), whilst Cluzel ultimately ran a lonely last few laps to third.
Mahias put some pressure on Sofuoglu on the final lap, trying to retain the lead in the general standings, but the Kawasaki rider was too strong as he showed his class for a narrow – but crucial – win.
Honda privateer Christian Gamarino, Federico Caricasulo (Yamaha), Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta), Christoffer Bergman (Honda) and Rob Hartog (Kawasaki) completed the top 10.
WORLD SUPERSPORT 300
Pole position man Alfonso Coppola (Yamaha) got a slow start off the line as championship leader Marc Garcia, also Yamaha mounted, took the early lead in a group of three race leaders Daniel Valle (Yamaha) and front row starter Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki).
The three Spanish riders were locked in the battle for the podium places but Mika Perez (Honda) was hunting down the leading group as he set fastest lap time of the race at 1.58.820.
Catching the front group in the closing laps, the Spaniards were joined by Coppola who was able to find some stunning pace in the closing laps which meant he was able to join the battle for the victory.
In a stunning display on the final lap, the race all came down to the final corners and Carrasco responded perfectly to the pressure from her competitors on the final laps as she narrowly beat the field by 0.053s. Coppola took second with a well-timed use of slipstream over the line, with early race leader Garcia finishing third.
Valle missed out on the podium to take fourth ahead of Perez who gave his all from 11th on the grid to keep his championship fight alive, with Borja Sanchez (Yamaha) sixth.