WSB Portimao: Toprak Razgatlioglu wins dramatic opening race in Portugal

Toprak Razgatlioglu has opened up a comfortable lead in the championship
Toprak Razgatlioglu has opened up a comfortable lead in the championship

Toprak Razgatlioglu has opened up a 45-point lead in the World Superbike Championship standings after an entertaining opening race at Portimao. 

Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea continued their title battle in the early stages, but they also had to deal with Scott Redding on the Ducati. Razgatlioglu and Rea made contract with each other, as they did at Jerez last weekend, on lap three, which allowed Redding to take the lead.

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The trio would continue to exchange positions until disaster struck for Rea at the final corner on lap five. The reigning six-time champion lost the front at turn 15, send him into the gravel at high speed. His Kawasaki was sent airborne, whilst Rea was taken to the medical centre for a check-up. 

Rea will be reassessed tomorrow morning before the warm-up session, having been diagnosed with 'multiple contusions and a left elbow abrasion' by the medical staff at the circuit. 

Rea's crash left Razgatlioglu and Redding to fight for the race win. The latter led until lap 11, when Razgatlioglu pulled one of his now traditional late-braking manoeuvres on the Brit. The Yamaha rider was unable to shake-off Redding, who was pushing so hard that you could hear his tyres screeching through the TV broadcast, who attempted a move on the run down to turn one on lap 16 and 18, only to lose out on the brakes on both occasions. 

Razgatlioglu pulled a big enough gap on the final lap to avoid being passed on the run to the line by the powerful Ducati V4 R. It's his first victory at the Portuguese circuit and Yamaha's first at Portimao since Marco Melandri's victory in race two back in 2011. 

Behind the two leaders there was another fantastic battle for the final spot on the podium. At one stage, Leon Haslam, Loris Baz, Michael van der Mark, Alvaro Bautista, Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Andrea Locatelli were all swapping positions. 

Locatelli ran into the back of Van der Mark on the run down to turn five, causing both riders to crash. Van der Mark was visibly frustrated, and shoulder barged his rival whilst running towards his stricken BMW. The incident is currently under investigation. 

With Haslam and Rinaldi running wide at turn one, Bautista and Baz were left to scrap for the podium. Bautista held the spot until he crashed out at the last corner on the final lap of the race, allowing Baz to take a podium in only his third race back in the series

Rinaldi and Haslam completed the top five, with Garrett Gerloff crossing the line in sixth for GRT Yamaha. Axel Bassani was seventh, whilst Leandro Mercado, Eugene Laverty and Christophe Ponsson completed the top 10. 

WSB Portimao - Race One Result

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Josh Close

By Josh Close

Sports Reporter and fan of all things motorsport.