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Rea’s engine fails to last the pace

Jonathan Rea’s third place finish in yesterday’s World Superbike race in Portugal was scant consolation for his weekend’s efforts.

The 23-year-old was in the mix for a race two victory before his Hannspree Ten Kate Honda gave up the ghost after only seven laps.

An early battle at the front of field with double race winner Max Biaggi [Alitalia Aprilia] and series leader Leon Haslam [Alstare Suzuki] looked promising but Rea then “heard a funny noise and pulled the clutch in”.

The disappointed Ulsterman said: “It was gutting to have to watch the rest of the race from the garage, as I really felt I had the pace to run at the front with Haslam and Biaggi.”

Biaggi’s Portuguese double moves him into second place in the World Superbike standings on 69 points, only 16 adrift of Haslam, with another former MotoGP rider, Carlos Checa [Althea Ducati] in third on 60 points after two fourth places.

Rea remains on 39 points just behind the Xerox Ducati pairing of Michel Fabrizio [46 points] and Nori Haga on 43. Pole setter Cal Crutchlow also had an up-and-down day, sliding off his Sterilgarda Yamaha in race one whilst holding down the final podium position that eventually went to Rea.

However, while the Coventry lad had a race two podium, his more experienced team-mate and former world champion James Toseland continues to struggle on his return to World Superbike from MotoGP. He finished seventh and sixth.

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Toomebridge’s Eugene Laverty, who was leading the World Supersport class when the teams rolled up at Portimao, also suffered cruel luck. The 23-year-old Parkalgar Honda rider hadn’t put a foot wrong from the opening free practice session, setting the pole time and leading yesterday’s Supersport race for 15 laps before slipping off after touching a kerb.

He re-mounted and rode the final 10 miles on his ailing Honda to eventually finish 11th, but was anything but pleased.

“That certainly didn’t go to plan. When I had the lead I pushed really hard and used the best of my tyre, but (Kenan) Sofuoglu and (Joan) Lascorz came back at me in the final few laps,” said Laverty.

“When they passed me I was trying hard to stay with them and touched the kerb and lost the front end. Luckily I was able to pick the bike up and finish the race with five points and they could make a big difference come the end of the season.”

Laverty dropped to third place in the overall standings [30 points] behind Ten Kate Honda’s Sofuoglu [41] and Kawasaki’s Lascorz [40].

Also at Portimao, 15-year-old Josh Elliott, from Ballinamallard finished 12th on his European Superstock debut.

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