Steve English reviews the pivotal Prosecco DOC Portuguese Round
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) leaves Portugal with one hand on the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship title, after a perfect weekend for the Northern Irishman. Pole position and two race wins have left the Kawasaki rider in an almost unassailable position with six races remaining.
While Rea left with a smile on his face and a 120 point margin at the top of the standings, his teammate Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), left in very different circumstances. The Englishman crashed heavily during Saturday's FP3 session and was left with a fractured wrist and two broken fingers. It was an ignominious end to his title challenge, but speaking to Sykes after the crash it was the pain of ending his streak of starts for Kawasaki that was hurting him as much as anything.
With Sykes on the sidelines, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) is the only other rider still in the hunt for the title, but a crash on Sunday has put a severe dint in his title charge. It was a difficult weekend for Davies, with the Ducati struggling to keep up with the Kawasaki all weekend. The extra day of testing at the Portimao circuit could however prove vital in gaining an understanding of some issues that arose over the weekend.
While Sykes and Davies will go to France hoping to recover from some disappointment, Yamaha rider Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), will be in high spirits. The Dutchman was a man under pressure last weekend following the news that he would deputise for Valentino Rossi at the Aragon MotoGP™ round, but he answered his critics by claiming his first WorldSBK podium for Yamaha. MV Agusta are still searching for their debut podium in the series, but Leon Camier's form on Friday and Saturday showed how close he is coming to delivering that milestone.
History was made in World Supersport 300 with Ana Carrrasco (ETG Racing) claiming the victory. The Spaniard waited until the last second to grab the lead, as she slipstreamed her way into the history books as the first ever female winner of a World Championship race. It was a moment that captured the attention of everyone in Portimao, but the reverberations have been heard around the world, with major newspapers around the globe featuring her success.