Belfast Telegraph

Splash hit rider Jonathan Rea boosts title bid

By Paul Lindsay

County Antrim rider Jonathan Rea may well be an unlikely favourite to land this year’s World Superbike Championship title, as the Ballyclare rider again proved his undoubted talent on a motorcycle with a race two victory at Portimao in Portugal during round eight when wet weather levelled out the playing field at yesterday’s event.

Rea romped home on his Pata Honda in the shortened 18-lap encounter in wet conditions after the Aprilia duo of Sylvain Guintoli and Marco Melandri crashed out with just five laps remaining.

Rea, who finished fifth in race one, remains in fourth place in the standings after taking a 36-point haul on the Algarve.

“I was disappointed with the race one result because we had good pace in warm-up,” said Rea. “When I heard the rain on the roof of the motorhome prior to race two I was getting a bit giddy, as I knew it would present a big chance for me.

“I would have preferred it dry but we’ll take them any way we can and its 25 points not just for me but for the whole team. The boys are working so hard to bring our package to the front and they gave me a really great user-friendly bike — so I’m happy for everyone concerned.”

Davide Guigliano stood alongside Rea on the podium in second place with his Welsh team-mate Chaz Davies taking his third podium of the season in third place. Fellow Brit Alex Lowes was fourth on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki.

Race one winner Tom Sykes remains top of the standings with his factory Kawasaki team on 284 points, 43 ahead of Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli and his Kawasaki team-mate Loris Baz, a further five points adrift.

Toome’s Eugene Laverty continues to struggle on the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki taking disappointing finishes in eighth and ninth at a circuit where he has tasted success in the past albeit on alternative machinery.

Laverty leaves Portimao eighth in the championship standings as the series moves Stateside to Laguna Seca next weekend.

A disappointed Eugene said: “We were top four in every session apart from the three that mattered, Superpole and the two races. I’m very disappointed with race one, it was drizzling with rain and I was too scared to take risks and ended up in a low position.

“I lost two places on the last lap due to backmarkers but whether it was sixth or eighth, for me it wasn’t a good race.

“In the second race I didn’t have any feeling at all in the beginning, it came better in the end but it was too little, too late, so it was a poor day.

“We really had pace for the podium here so to walk away with an eighth and a ninth is not what we hoped for.”

Dublin’s Jack Kennedy finally enjoyed podium success in the World Supersport class, finishing in second place aboard the CIA Insurance Honda behind series leader Michael van der Mark, who took the victory for Pata Honda.

Reigning world champion Kenan Sofuoglu was third on the Mahi Racing Team India Kawasaki.

At home, Dan Kneen continues to stretch his lead in the Irish Superbike Championship with the grand final victory at Skerries Road Races in Co Dublin.

Belfast Telegraph

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