WorldSBK Press Office
The 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship fired back into life on Sunday morning with the Tissot Superpole Race. The 10-lap affair would be all-action from the start and would eventually see Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) take his ninth win on the bounce at Portimao, whilst a relentless battle for the podium place took hold behind the reigning four-time WorldSBK champion.
Lights out and it was another good get-away for Jonathan Rea, holding on to his first position from Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) had a better start and was fourth ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and his teammate Michael van der Mark, whilst Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) kept his nose clean and was seventh.
However, Bautista dropped positions and soon found himself in a battle with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK), Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and teammate, Chaz Davies – of whom he criticised yesterday after an aggressive Turn 1 incident saw Bautista plummet down the order. At the end of Lap 1, Rea hadn’t broken clear of Sykes, whilst Haslam was under pressure from the pursuing riders.
Alex Lowes was showing better pace than in Race 1, now up to second ahead of Sykes and Haslam and soon, there’d be more problems for the British pair. Bautista was picking his way through the pack, getting back ahead of Razgatlioglu and capitalising on a Marco Melandri error at Turn 12. Next up, Sandro Cortese was dispatched and then it was two-for-one as the Spaniard eased ahead of Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes. All moves were completed on the front straight. Bautista’s teammate Chaz Davies was not having a strong race, down in tenth.
Tom Sykes soon fell to the back of the battle for fourth, with Leon Haslam and Toprak Razgatlioglu getting ahead – the Turkish rider taking both at Turn 5 with five to go, whilst Michael van der Mark made his way ahead of Sandro Cortese. Two laps later, he would be ahead of Sykes – the 2013 WorldSBK champion now down in seventh and relinquishing his front row starting position.
Bautista was now chasing Alex Lowes and on the final two laps, the two we going head-to-head, with the Spaniard getting the better of Lowes on the front straight at the start of Lap 10. Whilst Lowes stayed with him, there was nothing he could do about the Ducati rider. But there was nothing the pair could do about runaway leader, Jonathan Rea, who took the victory and starts from pole once more in Race 2. Bautista will be elevated to the front row ahead of Alex Lowes, who took his best result at Portimao.
Toprak Razgatlioglu will leap up from 13th to fourth after he held of Haslam and van der Mark in the closing stages. The group were able to hold on ahead of Tom Sykes and Sandro Cortese, whilst Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) took ninth to start from row three – the original row three all being replaced after the Tissot Superpole Race. Most notably, Chaz Davies finished outside of the top nine and will start from 14th.