In an action-packed first World Superbike race from Portimao in which only 14 riders finished, it was Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea who emerged victorious.
Followed across the line by Ducati’s Marco Melandri in second and the Yamaha of Michael van der Mark in third, it was the number 65 rider’s 65th win in the class and allowed the three-time world champion to edge one step closer to his fourth consecutive title.
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The race looked set to be closely-contended battle, with Rea out-qualified by Eugene Laverty, who took his first pole position in five years aboard his Milwaukee Aprilia.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, with the Northern Irish rider collected by the Ducati of Xavi Fores after just three corners in an incident that saw them both retire from the race.
Quickly establishing a gap at the front of the field, Rea was then pursued by Melandri on the Panigale R and the second Milwaukee bike of Lorenzo Savadori until the 12th lap of 20, upon which Savadori crashed out at turn one.
He was then followed into the gravel trap by backmarker Jakub Smrz on his Guandalini Racing Yamaha R1.
With Savadori unable to continue, Van der Mark was bumped up to third place, closely followed by the second Aruba Ducati of Chaz Davies and the Kawasaki ZX-10RR of Tom Sykes.
Slightly further down the field from them was the duo of Loris Baz and Jordi Torres, who enjoyed a race-long battle for sixth place, with Gulf Althea BMW’s Baz eventually coming out on top.
Britain’s Alex Lowes and Leon Camier struggled to make an impact on the race, with Pata Yamaha’s Lowes finishing in 10th after dropping to 15th place and Camier being forced to retire the Red Bull Honda on lap 10.
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