In a Tissot Superpole to remember, there was plenty of unpredictability and change right until the final seconds!
With the sun soaking the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal for day two of action at the Acerbis Portuguese Round, WorldSBK action was fast and furious during the 25-minute Tissot Superpole session. After a tantalisingly close day one with the top 12 covered by a second, Tissot Superpole was a mouth-watering prospect. Leaving it late after an incredible end of the session, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) took his 21st career pole position, and his fifth of the season.
The session began and straight away, Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) blasted in the fastest lap of the weekend, coming off the back of a crash during FP3 in the morning. He had close company however, as Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) hit second Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) picking up where he left off in FP2 to go third. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) initially hit fourth.
With less than eight minutes to go however, times were flying in and Jonathan Rea stormed to the top of the timesheets. Rea’s time however was vulnerable, a considerable margin off Eugene Laverty’s Superpole record last season. Would anyone be able to topple the Northern Irishman, and could he improve his own time, to put pole position out of reach? With five minutes to go, Bautista struck back and took provisional pole position.
Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha) was the first crasher of the session at Turn 11, whilst on a lap time good enough for pole position. Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Team) was a vast improver in third, whilst Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was up to fifth and Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) seventh with three minutes left.
It was a completely unpredictable closing two minutes, as Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) blasted to top spot with a new all-time lap record, only for Jonathan Rea to strike straight back and take the pole position away from his former teammate. Rea will start Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race from pole position, whilst Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) took third and becomes the first German to start on the front row of the grid at Portimao, taking his third front row of the season.
Heading up the second row is Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) put in a good lap time to take him from 14th to fourth, putting positions between his championship-leading teammate and Bautista. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was up to fifth whilst Bautista couldn’t return to the top five in Tissot Superpole and only managed sixth, although he was the fastest Ducati.
Row three features Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing), for his second-best starting position of the season and during his time at Portimao. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) salvaged what has been a difficult weekend and took eighth place on the grid, whilst Markus Reiterberger was eventually shuffled back to ninth, just half-a-second from the front row. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) had a disappointing session and completed the top ten.
Big names outside of the top ten include Race 2 winner at Laguna Seca, Chaz Davies, who was cast down the field due to late improvements, along with Toprak Razgatlioglu; both start 12th and 13th respectively. Eugene Laverty went from pole position in 2018 to just 14th in 2019, whilst Loris Baz’s crash proved costly, as the Frenchman starts out of position in 15th. Top Honda was Takumi Takahashi (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) in 17th, just 2.3s off pole.
Jonathan Rea’s pole position is a new all-time lap record at Portimao for motorcycles, whilst it is his 21st career pole position, putting him joint fourth in the pole position standings with fellow four-time WorldSBK champion, Carl Fogarty. His pole position keeps up the tradition of having at least one British rider on the front row after Tissot Superpole every season at Portimao.
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Top six after Tissot Superpole, full results here!
- Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) 1’41.372
- Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +0.111
- Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) +0.303
- Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.625
- Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +0.672
- Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) +0.726