Treacherous conditions forced officials to red flag Race 1 due to oil on track after a crash, with BMW Motorrad's Marco Melandri
suffering the most from the incident. Kawasaki's Tom Sykes
was in prime form in Race 1 after the restart, but faced unexpected difficulties in Race 2. World Superbike action at Portimao was intense and dramatic, leading to even more shifts in the points balance.
Tom Sykes took the World Superbike Race 1 win at Portimao.
Wet conditions contributed to the difficulty at Portimao and officials were forced to red flag Race 1 after six laps. Melandri, ParkinGO MTC Racing’s Chaz Davies
and Althea Racing’s Davide Giugliano all crashed out in the opening minutes of the contest. Grillini Progea's Norino Brignola went down a few laps later and oil left on track from his crash prompted officials to pull riders off track with the red flag. After the restart, it was Sykes who dominated the front, earning his third race win of the season. Giugliano’s teammate Carlos Checa
followed in second and PATA Racing’s Sylvain Guintoli
rounded out the podium.
Sykes benefitted greatly from the restart of Race 1, thanks to the work of his team to dial his ZX-10R
for the conditions on track. Prior to the red flag, the British rider was in seventh following a poor start. After the restart though, Sykes came through the first two laps in second, then took the lead on Lap 3 and held steady to the checkers.
"We have had some good luck today and also had some bad luck," said Sykes. "Obviously on the good luck side in race one, in the first start, we were really struggling. We made two big changes to the bike after the red flag so on the restart it was a different motorcycle and I was able to do what I wanted with it. I felt more comfortable. So a big thanks to the team and Kawasaki for the snap decision to make those changes."
Melandri was unable to return after his crash to finish the contest, allowing Sykes to move past the Italian in points up to second behind Aprilia Racing’s Max Biaggi
. The BMW ace was taken to the hospital for scans and was able to return to the track later in the afternoon with no serious injuries.
Wet conditions contributed to early incidents in Race 1 at Portimao where a number of riders crashed out.
"Once more it was a very bad day for me," said Melandri. "When Max Biaggi passed me I kept my inside line and I did not really see him. I just heard the sound of somebody touching the front of my bike and I went down and I felt something hit my back. I was very worried about my back, kidney or liver because it hurt very badly. Fortunately the medical exams show that everything is okay. Now it is a bit better because I took a lot of painkillers, but I still don’t feel very well."
Biaggi struggled a bit in Race 1 after the restart. Just before the red flag he was running in second behind teammate Eugene Lavery. Once back on track, Biaggi jumped to the front and led for two laps. He slipped to second as Sykes pushed for the front and continued to slide back, finishing in fourth.
Team Effenbert Liberty Racing’s Brett McCormick took his best finish of the season in fifth and was followed by Honda’s Jonathan Rea
in sixth. Sykes’ teammate Loris Baz took seventh just ahead of Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama in eighth. BMW Motorrad Italia GoldBet duo Ayrton Badovini and Michel Fabrizio finished in ninth and 10th respectively.
World Superbike Portimao Race 1 Results 2012:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
5. Brett McCormick (Ducati)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
8. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)
9. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
10. Michel Fabrizio (BMW)
11. Leon Camier (Suzuki)
12. John Hopkins (Suzuki)
13. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
14. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki)
15. Matteo Baiocco (Ducati)
16. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati)
17. Norino Brignola (BMW)
18. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
19. Leon Haslam (BMW)
Eugene Laverty scored the Race 2 win ahead of Jonathan Rea and current championship points leader Max Biaggi.
Laverty came out on top in Race 2, beating Rea by 0.162 seconds. Biaggi rounded out the podium well ahead of fourth-place finisher Guintoli.
"My first win with and for Aprilia came on my favourite track with a lot of my fans trackside, who I'd like to thank," said Laverty. "Grip in Race 2 wasn't perfect. I tried to push hard right away to gain an advantage and then I was able to maintain it to the end. This year we had some difficult moments, like we had in Race 1 today, but we're finally showing our potential with some good progress at the end of the season."
The Irish rider was a force in Race 2, gaining the lead through Lap 1 and holding through the entire contest. Sykes and Davies trailed Laverty initially, though Sykes had to retire from the race early on due to mechanical problems. Davies slipped into second after Sykes pulled out, and held through Lap 4 and then crashed going through Turn 11. He was unable to rejoin the race and had to retire also. Biaggi was right there to slip into position, gaining second for a period until Rea made the pass for position.
Checa finished in fifth, followed by Badovini in sixth and Kawasaki’s Loris Baz in seventh. Fabrizio took eighth while McCormick and his teammate Lorenzo Lanzi took ninth and 10th respectively.
Owing to Melandri’s absence and Syke’s misfortune in Race 2, Biaggi extended his points lead to 30.5 over the British rider. Melandri slipped to third overall and trails Biaggi by 38.5. With 50 points possible in the final round at Magny-Cours, the title is still within reach of Melandri and Sykes, though Biaggi could seal the championship with a strong showing in Race 1 at the coming round.
World Superbike Portimao Race 2 Results 2012:
World Superbike Portimao Race 2 podium with Eugene Laverty (center) in first, Jonathan Rea (left) in second and Max Biaggi (right) in third.
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia)
2. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
3. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
4. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
5. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
6. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
8. Michel Fabrizio (BMW)
9. Brett McCormick (Ducati)
10. Lorenzo Lanzi (Ducati)
11. John Hopkins (Suzuki)
12. Lorenzo Zanetti (Ducati)
13. David Salom (Kawasaki)
14. Alexander Lundh (Kawasaki)
15. Norino Brignola (BMW)
World Superbike Championship Points:
1. Max Biaggi, 347
2. Tom Sykes, 316.5
3. Marco Melandri, 308.5
4. Carlos Checa, 278.5
5. Jonathan Rea, 255.5
6. Eugene Laverty, 241.5
7. Leon Haslam, 189
8. Sylvain Guintoli, 172.5
9. Chaz Davies, 156.5
10. Michel Fabrizio, 133.5