An extremely close opening session in Portugal saw the two title protagonists split by less than a tenth of a second!
The 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship was back on track at the Acerbis Portuguese Round at the Algarve International Circuit. The opening session saw most riders pick up where they left off after the official test, with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) securing top spot. Rea has won the last seven races at Portimao, but the challenge from behind is bigger and better than ever, with 11 riders within one second of Rea’s top time.
Jonathan Rea couldn’t be topped throughout the session, leading the session for all but the opening two laps. The Northern Irishman and championship leader was only less than a tenth clear of arch rival, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) – the Spaniard going faster than he did in the official test. In third place was Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team), whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) featured strongly in fourth. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was a solid fifth.
In sixth place, Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) returned to Portimao with a consistent start, something he will want to build from. Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was the top BMW rider in seventh, whilst Frenchman and former Portimao podium finisher Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) was up in eighth. Completing the top ten were Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) in ninth and Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team).
Notable incidents included Jordi Torres’ (Team Pedercini Racing) crash at the start of the session at Turn 3, whilst Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) had a high-speed crash at Turn 14. Both riders were OK. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) may have won at Laguna Seca but he was only 11th after FP1, whilst the top Honda was replacement rider, Takumi Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team), in 17th and just 2.1s off Rea’s top time.
Watch the rest of the weekend unfold at Portimao with the WorldSBK VideoPass!
Top six after FP1, for full FP1 results, click here!
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’41.931
- Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.078
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.120
- Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) +0.183
- Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.346
- Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.357