Sykes wins his 21st WSBK race to stretch his championship lead
Spots of rain can’t stop the reigning champion from winning again.
An enthralling 20 lap race 1 saw Tom Sykes emerge victorious at a cloudy and overcast Portimao.
At the start it was Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea that took the holeshot, leading for the opening three laps before Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) and Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team) overtook him into turn one at the start of lap four.
By half distance the constant swapping of positions had allowed reigning champion Sykes to stretch his lead to 3 seconds, before seconds later the white flag was waved to indicate that rain was beginning to fall.
Behind the leader five riders that included Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team), and Sylvain Guintoli, Leon Haslam on the second of the Pata Honda’s slowly began to close the gap, giving the fans a six rider group battling for the podium places.
Leon Haslam took out Chaz Davies after losing the front end of his Pata Honda, both riders able to remount with Davies later retiring. Haslam eventually finished 11th.
At the front Sylvain Guintoli had elevated himself to 2nd and began to quickly reduce the gap to Sykes before he responded to retain a lead of 2 seconds until the flag.
Guintoli made his return to the podium in 2nd ahead of compatriot Baz with Marco Melandri 4th.
Jonathan Rea faded to a lonely 5th ahead of Alex Lowes (Voltcom Crescent Suzuki) who passed Ducati’s Davide Giugliano and his team mate Eugene Laverty on the final lap to finish 6th.
Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) and David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) were never more than 0.1s apart for the entire race with Salom eventually coming out on top by 0.014s on the line to claim the EVO honours.
Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) crashed out after improving from his lowly grid position whilst Fabien Foret (Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki), Geoff May (Team Hero EBR), both Grillini Kawasaki riders Bryan Staring and Sheridan Morais, Peter Sebestyen (Team Toth BMW) and Chaz Davies all retired.