Kawasaki‘s Tom Sykes extended his championship lead while a Race Two collision between Aprilia teammates Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri provided drama in the World Superbike Championship round at Portugal’s Portimao track.
Sykes qualified on the pole in a sun-draped Superpole session but the clouds rolled in on race day, forcing teams to plan for mixed weather. An overcast sky presided over a dry Race One, leading to a mix of tire choices but all of the racers switched to wet tires for Race Two that saw the scheduled 20-lap length reduced to 18 laps.
Honda‘s Jonathan Rea took the holeshot and led the first three laps ahead of Melandri and Sykes. Rea lost the lead early on Lap 4 however as both Sykes and Melandri passed him on the first turn. Running in front, Sykes stretched his advantage over several laps, while his teammate Loris Baz worked his way to catch up to Melandri and lend a hand against the Italian.
The skies opened up midway through the race and rain began to fall, but by then, Sykes was comfortably in front. Baz continued to badger Melandri before Guintoli joined the fray. By Lap 11, Guintoli moved up into second place, leading a tight group that also included Ducati‘s Chaz Davies and Honda’s Leon Haslam.
Davies and Haslam collided on the following lap, sending both riders crashing. Davies returned to the garage to repair a damaged footpeg and handlebar while Haslam was able to remount.
After the full 20 laps, it was Sykes taking his seventh win of the season and 21st of his WSBK career, tying him on the all-time list with Max Biaggi. Guintoli finished second to try and stay within reach of Sykes in the season standings while Baz completed the podium.
|2014 WSBK Portimao Race One Top Five Results|
|1||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki ZX-10R||–|
|2||Sylvain Guintoli||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+2.539|
|3||Loris Baz||Kawasaki ZX-10R||+3.175|
|4||Marco Melandri||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||+4.042|
|5||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||+7.791|
Rea got off to another good start in Race Two but this time he was able to separate himself from the others and establish a comfortable lead. Sykes followed in second for the first few laps, with Davies in third.
The Aprilia duo of Guintoli and Melandri made their move on Lap 4, overtaking Davies. The two did it again to Sykes on Lap 8 before setting their sites on Rea.
Rea’s nearly five-second lead began to evaporate with the Aprilia riders shaving off a second with each ensuing lap. By the end of Lap 12, Melandri was only 0.076 seconds behind Rea with Guintoli not far behind.
But disaster struck the Aprilia riders on the following lap, as Guintoli lost the front end trying to pass Rea on the inside. Guintoli slid into Melandri, taking him down as well. Guintoli was able to remount but Melandri’s race was over.
With the Aprilia threat eliminated, Rea had an eight-second lead over Ducati’s Davide Giugliano, a wide enough margin for him to coast his way to his fourth win of the season. Giugliano crossed the finish second, ahead of his teammate Davies.
|2014 WSBK Portimao Race Two Top Five Results|
|1||Jonathan Rea||Honda CBR1000RR||–|
|2||Davide Giugliano||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||+6.817|
|3||Chaz Davies||Ducati 1199 Panigale R||+8.676|
|4||Alex Lowes||Suzuki GSX-R1000||+9.740|
|5||Leon Haslam||Honda CBR1000RR||+11.289|
After Eight Rounds
Despite a lackluster eighth-place finish in Race Two, Sykes leaves Portugal with a wider lead over Guintoli. Baz remains in third but sits just a point ahead of Rea while Melandri rounds out the top five.
Up next is the WSBK Championship’s lone U.S. round, July 13 at Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.
|2014 WSBK Top Five Standings after Eight Rounds|
|4||Jonathan Rea||Pata Honda||235|
[Source: WSBK; Photos by Honda, Pirelli and Getty Images]