Irishman leads front row ahead of Rea and Melandri
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) has taken his first Tissot Superpole since 2013 and only the third of his career with an incredible lap of 1’40.705 around the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. With the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship gearing up for the first race since July, the Aprilia rider will lead the line in Race One ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), the two pacesetters yesterday in Free Practice.
The first man to set leading times in an electric Superpole 2 was fellow RSV4 rider Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia), through from Superpole 1 and straight to the top of the timesheets. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) 2013 pole record of 1’42.360 was already in danger of being beaten, and the final minutes confirmed it, with up to eight riders smashing that figure, including the previous record-holder himself.
Rea was first to take the lead from Savadori, going to the top by six tenths of a second and leaving his teammate’s pole record in pieces; it lasted just a few seconds however, as behind him Laverty crossed the line with an advantage of 0.060 seconds and becoming the sixth polesitter of 2018.
Melandri followed closely behind and seemed faster than the Irishman through the first three splits. That advantage was lost through sector four, however, and the Italian will start from the back of row one, with Savadori taking an impressive fourth just behind.
Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) made it four machines in the front five with the fifth fastest time of Superpole 2, while his teammate Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) crashed going through the final corner on his flying lap and will begin Race One from 12th on the grid.
Sykes took the sixth fastest qualifying time, ahead of Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) in seventh, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) – through from Superpole 1 – in eighth, and Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in ninth, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) closing the top ten. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), second in the championship, was unable to make it through Superpole 1 after also struggling yesterday and will begin Race One down in 14th and row five.
Will Rea make it five in a row? Only one way to find out: tune in at 13:00 local time (12:00 GMT) for Race One of the Nolan Portuguese Round thanks to WorldSBK VideoPass.