Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) showed tremendous composure once again to win his seventh consecutive race at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve and his sixth consecutive in this year’s MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, after a thrilling battle through two thirds of the race with Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). He was accompanied on the podium by Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
A brilliant start from Rea pushed him straight up to third inside lap one, with Davies and Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) keeping their grid positions in one and two. Flying past his teammate on lap three, the Northern Irishman set up another stunning duel with the Welshman, one that we’ve seen repeated several times this year.
The battle quickly heated up, and fans were treated to a sensational battle. A first strike at the beginning of lap eight saw Davies defend his position on the exit of turn 1; two laps later, Rea dashed into the slipstream again, this time successfully, but the Ducati found the space to counterattack at the braking point of turn 5. Meanwhile, Melandri closed into a mere few tenths of a second of the squabbling pair, with van der Mark also moving near.
The pressure eventually got to the Welshman however, on lap 12: Davies went wide at turn 10, being comfortably passed by the Kawasaki with no chance to respond. Melandri tried a move on his teammate for second on the return through the main straight, but both went in too hot, leaving the door open for the trailing Yamaha to swoop in and climb to second in one smooth move.
With the memory of their stunning battles at Assen and Donington Park fresh in the minds of all WorldSBK fans, Rea and van der Mark set out for another thriller. The reigning champion’s pace was however just too strong for the Dutchman to surpass at this point, and he remains undefeated since Laguna Seca.
Melandri secured third place at the flag, joining Rea and van der Mark on the podium for the third consecutive race. While Davies’ pace faded off after his mid-race battles, the Welshman did manage to hold off Sykes for fourth position and complete a sensational weekend as he was hindered by a collarbone injury.
Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) made amends for his mistake in Race One by rising to sixth in Sunday’s race, one position ahead of his teammate Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia). Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) was the best independent rider on track at Portimao, crossing the line in eighth.
Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) couldn’t keep hold of his front row start and finishes Race Two in ninth position, just ahead of Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in tenth and eleventh, respectively.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) has scored an important win at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve ahead of the impressive Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), in perhaps the most extraordinary end to a race in FIM Supersport World Championship history, after Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) was denied a return to the top of the rostrum twice in the space of five minutes.
A lightning start from Jules Cluzel (NRT) at the lights moved him immediately into first place. It lasted just one lap however, as Mahias made good use of slipstream to move back in front at the exit from the main straight.
Then disaster struck as championship leader Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) attempted a move into second at turn five, another in a series of stunning battles that both men have held this year. But this was one move too many: the German slipped, taking both him and Cluzel out. A racing incident that nonetheless harmed the Frenchman the most, as he was unable to rejoin whilst Cortese was able to hold the clutch in and managed to recover and head back in pursuit of some points.
With their two strongest rivals out of action, this ninth race of the season quickly turned into a GRT battle. Separated by just a point in the standings and with both riders in search of their second race win of 2018, Mahias rapidly opened a one second gap with Caricasulo, taking the fastest lap of the race along the way, and entered the final lap with a comfortable lead.
In a dramatic twist to the end of the race, Mahias suffered tyre issues as he crossed the line for the final lap, which put an end to his hopes of securing a second win this season.
But then the red flags came out: Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) and Borja Quero Martínez (EMPERADOR Racing Team) had crashed together at turn 11 in the previous lap, meaning that the results going into the penultimate lap of 18 would be final… As long as every rider makes it back to the pits within five minutes of the official race end.
With his machine still rolling, Mahias set out around the Portuguese track without a rear tyre, for perhaps the longest lap of his career. In incredible conditions and crashing twice along the way, Mahias made it to the pits in what he initially thought was within the time limit – but it was not. As such, everyone moved up a place, with Caricasulo taking an unlikely yet incredibly valuable second consecutive win, and an exhausted Mahias was left with no points for his efforts.
British rider Kyle Smith managed to move up to second with this, taking his first podium of the season and the first for a Honda bike, after overtaking De Rosa – who has now strung six consecutive podium finishes together – for third in the late stages of the race.
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) takes fourth in the final results, a good result for the Swiss rider after a poor start. Hidden beneath all the late drama, Cortese made it to the flag in an incredible fifth position despite that lap two crash and increases his championship lead against all odds.
Hannes Soomer (Racedays) concluded a fantastic weekend for the Estonian with sixth place, ahead of Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in seventh and Thomas Gradinger (NRT) in eighth, with Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in ninth and Hector Barberà (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) tenth in his WorldSSP debut.
If the stakes were high here at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, they just increased tenfold for Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) was able to win his first FIM Supersport 300 World Championship race since Assen 2017 and moves to just ten points behind championship leader Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team), who couldn’t finish higher than tenth. Mika Perez (Kawasaki ParkingGO Team) and Manuel Gonzalez (BCD Pertamina Junior Team by MS Racing) completed the podium at Portimao in second and third, respectively.
As usual this was a tight, electric affair in WorldSSP300, with the front riders on the grid keeping strong and battling it out from the early stages. Deroue picked his way through the front after a slow start, moving to P1 and taking a controlled lead, but never quite pulling away, while an army of Spanish riders behind pushed through around Portimao, including Perez, Gonzalez, Daniel Valle (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) and Maria Herrera (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), who was close to securing her first WorldSSP300 podium before a technical issue forced her out with one lap remaining.
None of these was the championship leader however, who struggled at Portimao one year on from her famous first race win. Carrasco fell to 17th at the start and could only make it to 11th at the flag – eventually 10th, after Borja Sánchez (ETG Racing) was handed a post race penalty due to irresponsible riding. She makes her way to Magny-Cours now with up to three other riders threatening her title chase: Deroue, Perez and Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), who crashed at Portimao.
The returning Robert Schotman (Motoport KawasakI) finished an impressive fourth at Portimao, ahead of Enzo De La Vega (GP Project Team) in fifth and the polesitter Tom Edwards (Nutec-Benjan-Kawasaki) in sixth, his best WorldSSP300 result. Valle was seventh, with wildcard Ferran Hernandez Moyano (Kawasaki PALMETO PL Racing) in eighth and Dorren Loureiro (DS Junior Team) ninth.
Who will leave Magny-Cours as the second WorldSSP300 champion? Find out from 28-30 September as the circus heads to France for the final installment of a thriller.
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