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Jonathan Rea back in pole position for sixth world title after Portimao hat-trick


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Leading man: Jonathan Rea in Portimao yesterday

Leading man: Jonathan Rea in Portimao yesterday

Leading man: Jonathan Rea in Portimao yesterday

Chasing his sixth consecutive World Superbike title, Jonathan Rea totally dominated the third round at Portimao over the weekend taking all three race wins, overturning a 24 point deficit going into the meeting to leave the Algarve with a four point lead over arch-rival Scott Redding in the series.

Rea could not have done any more and said after his demolition job of his opposition: "I can't believe it. The fastest laps, pole positions and three race wins.

"I do not think it was the results, but the way we made them. Compared to Jerez last week, this weekend I could do whatever I wanted and kept increasing the gap at the front - it was an incredible feeling.

"The wind became quite strong in the last race and I had a couple of moments over the hill where the front goes light. It was a tap on the shoulder to make me think, just bring the bike home safely. The Kawasaki Racing Team gave me a great bike to do the job."

In the opening 20-lap race, Rea shot into lead from pole and was never headed, winning by just over five seconds from the Pata Yamahas of Toprak Razgatlioglu and Michael van der Mark as Redding, starting from row three, struggled home in seventh position suffering tyre woes.

After the race Rea dedicated his victory to the absent fans at the behind closed doors meeting.

The BMWs of Tom Sykes and Eugene Laverty were eighth and tenth respectively.

Race two yesterday was the 10-lap Superpole in which the finishing order dictated the grid positions for the third and final race of the weekend.

Again Rea blitzed the start and despite pressure from Razgatlioglu through the first three turns the Templepatrick rider had no equals, increasing his lead lap by lap taking the chequered flag 2.9 seconds clear of the Turkish rider with Loris Baz third and Rea's team mate Alex Lowes recording his second fourth place finish, Redding improving to fifth with Sykes sixth.

Laverty and Chaz Davies had a coming together at the hairpin early in the race and both crashed, Laverty remounting to finish 20th and the Welshman retiring. The third and final race of the weekend yesterday saw Rea lead off the line and soon built a two-second gap over the field that saw a number of his rivals fall by the wayside with Razgatlioglu, Laverty, Lowes, Baz, and Xavi Fores all crashing.

Razgatlioglu remounted and fought through to eighth from 14th while Laverty recovered to finish 12th. The battle of the race was for second between Redding and van der Mark that eventually went the Ducati man's way by a tenth of a second although both were 4.4 seconds behind another exemplary performance from the 33 year old reigning world champion.

Laverty said: "To hit the deck twice in both races yesterday was devastating. The first time I got caught up in Chas Davies crash and then in the last race I got caught out by the slightly greaser track. I just wasn't cautious enough."

Rea never put a wheel wrong all weekend and is now back in championship contention.

Incidentally Rea has been awarded the Freedom of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council - this was just the perfect way to celebrate this latest accolade.

Again, it was an unfortunate weekend for Aghadowey rider Eunan McGlinchey who for the second meeting in a row failed to qualify for the two main races. During the Last Chance race another competitor took out Eunan and three other riders. The Team #109 Kawasaki rider now heads to Aragon in Spain for round three in three weeks' time.

SOUTH Africa's Brad Binder won the MotoGP Czech round at Brno in just his third premier class race - the first rookie since Marc Marquez to win in the series. Binder won by over five seconds from Italy's Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who took his first podium while polesitter Johann Zarco of France (Esponsorama Racing) finished third.

How they finished

Leading positions after race 2: 1 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 34mins 36.949secs, 2 Scott Redding (Gbr) Ducati +4.360, 3 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Yamaha +4.453, 4 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati +8.363, 5 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda +10.336, 6 Michael Rinaldi (Ita) Ducati +12.566, 7 Tom Sykes (Gbr) BMW +14.565, 8 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Yamaha +26.231, 9 Federico Caricasulo (Ita) Yamaha +28.103, 10 Leandro Mercado (Arg) Ducati +32.926

Standings:

Riders: 1 Jonathan Rea (Gbr) Kawasaki 136pts, 2 Scott Redding (Gbr) Ducati 132, 3 Toprak Razgatlioglu (Tur) Yamaha 103, 4 Alex Lowes (Gbr) Kawasaki 91, 5 Michael van der Mark (Ned) Yamaha 82, 6 Chaz Davies (Gbr) Ducati 75, 7 Alvaro Bautista (Spa) Honda 55, 8 Loris Baz (Fra) Yamaha 54, 9 Michael Rinaldi (Ita) Ducati 53, 10 Tom Sykes (Gbr) Manufacturers: 1 Kawasaki 162pts, 2 Ducati 134, 3 Yamaha 131, 4 Honda 60, 5 BMW 48, 6 Aprilia 4

Belfast Telegraph