It was a close affair during Race 1 at Estoril with Scott Redding only just holding off the challenge from his nearest rivals
The opening race of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship at the Gaerne Estoril Round was a thriller at the Circuito Estoril as Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) claimed a stunning victory after intense pressure from Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with BRIXX WorldSBK) and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) as all three riders were covered by less than a second.
Both Redding and Razgatlioglu completed the 21-lap race on Pirelli’s SCX tyre, designed for the 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race in mind, while Rea started on the SC0 tyre. Redding and Razgatlioglu got the jump on Rea at the start but were unable to pull too much of a gap to Rea, although Rea lost time as he battled Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in the early stages of the race.
The close race between the three riders on two different tyre strategies sets up an interesting Sunday, with two races, and an important question: will Razgatlioglu and Rea be able to usurp Redding across the 10-lap Tissot Superpole Race and Race 2, which will, like Race 1, take place over 21 laps.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s action, Razgatlioglu said: “Today I got a good start and after I followed Redding, he was very fast, especially in sector two. All race, I tried to close the gap because in sector two he is very fast, and I always tried to close the gap. But on all laps, I’m fighting for grip. When I see Jonny, I tried again for first but on the last lap I was fighting for second and I need the points. We are happy because again we’re on the podium, but I need more because I like this track. We are fighting for the win tomorrow. We are working with my team because I need to win because we are coming here… on the podium, yes, but I’m fighting also for the victory. Today we were very close. I just followed Redding. Tomorrow, I will have a different race because we will improve.”
Rea explained his choice to use the SC0 tyre in Saturday’s Race 1 and also left open the option of switching to the SCX tyre; with only six riders using the SC0 tyre in Race 1: Rea being joined by teammate Alex Lowes, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Jonas Folger (Bonovo MGM Action), Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) and teammate Tom Sykes on the SC0 tyre.
Rea said: “Yesterday, we struggled a little bit, this morning we made a step, and, in the race, I was right there until the end with Scott and Toprak. Unfortunately, at the start of the race, I didn’t have a good rhythm. When Rinaldi came past, I struggled for a few laps to get past him and I lost the rhythm. Some confidence I can take is that I was able to catch back up onto the group again. I felt quite good with my ZX-10RR, the guys got it working really well in the technical areas of the track. Tomorrow, the Superpole Race first, it’s going to be important to get a good grid position for the long Race 2 and get the chance to use the SCX tyre in the short race. After that, you can decide for the long race which obviously we’ll do.”
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