A consistent pair of second places kept French rider Sylvain Guintoli firmly in the catbird seat of the World Superbike series
The race at the fabulous Portimao circuit in Portugal saw Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes once again take pole position – his fifth of the year in six race weekends – but all he could manage was a third in Race One and a DNF in Race Two after a hard crash on the warm-up lap. He recovered to set a new lap record but was forced to retire before the race ended.
The first race went to BMW’s Marco Melandri, the Italian beating Guintoli to the line by a razor-thing 0.007 sec advantage. Guintoli’s factory Aprilia team-mate Eugene Laverty led the first half of the race until he was forced to retire with an unspecified technical problem.
Race One saw an excellent fourth for FIXI Suzuki’s Leon Camier, his best result of the season.
Other top riders forced to retire were Jonathon Rea on the Pata Ten Kate Honda with a mechanical issue, and Leon Haslam, back after a severe leg injury but forced to retire after losing the feeling in his arms, apparently the result of trying to compensate for his still-weak injured leg.
Laverty made no mistake and suffered no problems in Race Two, scoring his fourth victory of the season. The only rider who could stay with him the whole race was Jonathan Rea, but the Irishman was edged out of second in the closing laps by Laverty’s team-mate Guintoli.
As usual, the Supersport (600 cc) race provided the most spectacular racing of the weekend, with Sam Lowes (Yakhnich Motorsport Yamaha) taking the win over the Mahi Racing Team India duo of Fabien Foret and Kenan Sofuoglu. Thanks to his fourth consecutive win of the season, the Brit extends his Championship lead to 39 points.
All four riders waited for the closing stages to give everything they had, but Lowes’ last move at Turn 11 on Foret proved to be a successful one as the pole-sitter managed to stay on the lead up to the chequered flag, while the Frenchman and Sofuoglu kept contesting the remaining podium positions.
World Championship Point Standings (after 12 of 30 races):
1. Sylvain Guintoli, France, Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 213 points
2. Tom Sykes, U.K., Kawasaki Racing Team, 185
3. Eugene Laverty, U.K., Factory Aprilia Racing Team, 174
4. Marco Melandri, Italy, BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 156
5. Chaz Davies, U.K., BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBKTeam, 133
6. Loris Baz, France, Kawasaki Racing Team, 119
7. Jonathon Rea, U.K., Pata Honda World Superbike Team, 105
8. Michel Fabrizio, Italy, Factory Red Devils Roma Aprilia, 101
9. Davide Giugliano, Italy, Factory Althea Racing Aprilia, 79
10. Jules Cluzel, France, FIXI Crescent Suzuki, 72
Next race June 30, Italy, Imola Circuit