WSBK double No. 4 for Kawasaki’s Rea
Portimao, Portugal – Works Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea extended his World Superbike standings lead to a commanding 124 points after seven of 13 rounds with two emphatic wins on Portimao’s roller-coaster circuit.
Capetonian David ‘McFlash’ McFadden, meanwhile, narrowly missed out on a points finish in his first Superstock 1000 outing of the year.
Twenty action-packed laps saw Rea take his ninth victory of the season, coming home 9.384sec ahead of team-mate Tom Sykes, with Ducati privateer Chaz Davies completing an all-British podium.
The Kawasaki duo played a game of cat and mouse with each other and the weather for more than two thirds of the race distance until, with six laps to go, a few drops turned into heavy rain.
The entire field, except for Sykes, came in to change to wet tyres with Sykes making his move a lap later. Rea and Sykes than fought it you for the lead until Sykes’ ZX-10R picked a mechanical glitch, causing him to make a mistake – and handing Rea his 24th career win.
Davies came home third after an epic battle with Leon Haslam (Aprilia) in the early stages, with his Aruba Ducati team-mate Davide Giugliano fourth ahead of Sylvain Guintoli (Honda) and Matteo Baiocco (Ducati).
Ayrton Badovini brought the BMW Motorrad Italia S1000RR home seventh ahead of Leandro Mercado (Ducati), while Michael van der Mark (Honda) recovered to ninth after an off-track excursion and Alex Lowes (Suzuki) rounded out the top 10 after running wide in the early stages.
The rain cleared for the second outing and a full 20-lap race on a dry Autodromo Internacional do Algarve saw Rea claim the top step of the podium for the 10th time this season by crossing the line 5.416sec ahead of Giugliano, with Haslam third.
As in Race 1, Sykes led initially before being passed by team-mate Rea and Giugliano. The leading trio then pulled clear of the pack as the pace at the front increased. As the race continued Rea began to stretch a lead, leaving Sykes and Giugliano to fight for second until the former champion’s ZX-10R picked up what looked like a technical problem.
Sykes eventually dropped back to finish eighth, while Haslam took advantage of the situation to claim his first podium since Aragon in April.
Davies finished fourth to score more solid points ahead of the Honda pairing, with Van der Mark getting the better of reigning World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli on the final lap.
Jordi Torres (Aprilia) scored nine points for his seventh-place finish ahead of Sykes, Mercado, and Matteo Baiocco (Ducati).
MV Agusta star Jules Cluzel withstood off intense pressure from championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) to take the 600cc honours. The Kawasaki rider was fifth at the end of lap one after a scrappy start, but slowly made his way forward to pass Cluzel on lap 12.
The Frenchman retook the lead at the start of the last lap and the two swapped places twice more on the final go-round before Cluzel pulled away to win by 0.184sec.
It was Cluzel’s ninth win in the series and his second in 2015 after his victory in the opening round at Phillip Island. With seven events completed out of twelve, however, the MV Agusta rider is still 40 points shy of the lead.
PJ Jacobsen backed up his strong debut qualifying performance with his new team (Thailand Honda) to take the final place on the podium. The American was in contention for the lead in the early stages before gradually losing ground from lap eight onwards.
Gino Rea (Honda) missed out on the podium by 0.7sec, taking fourth ahead of Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta) and Kyle Smith (Honda). Christian Gamarino (Kawasaki), veteran Roberto Rolfo (Honda), Martin Cardenas (Honda) and Fabio Menghi (Yamaha) completed the top 10.
Roberto Tamburini (BMW) pulled away in the closing stages of the 14-lap race to come home 4.3sec ahead of a four-way battle for second between Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia), Raffaele De Rosa (Ducati), Ondrej Jezek (Ducati) and Kev Coghlan (Yamaha).
Second position eventually went to Savadori, the series leader edging out De Rosa as Jezek pipped Coghlan for fourth. Bryan Staring (Kawasaki) successfully defended sixth position from Kevin Calia (Aprilia), Jeremy Guarnoni and Luca Marconi (Yamaha), with Sylvain Barrier (Yamaha) rounding out the top 10.
McFadden, having qualified 21st, put in a superb ride on the Pedercini ZX-10R, running as high as 15th until he fell victim to a late charge by Sebastian Suchet (Kawasaki), two laps from the end.