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Jonathan Rea misses out in first race of Estoril weekend as costly mistake allows Alvaro Bautista to extend lead


Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki (Graeme Brown)

Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki (Graeme Brown)

Jonathan Rea on his Kawasaki (Graeme Brown)

A costly mistake in the opening race of the weekend in Estoril saw Jonathan Rea lose more ground in the World Superbike championship standings to winner Alvaro Bautista.

The Northern Irishman tussled with Toprak Razgatlioglu for most of the race but, whenever he ran wide while leading with five laps of the 21-lap race to go, it saw him fall away behind the leading pair and he would eventually finish third.

And it would be championship leader Bautista who would triumph as he slipped ahead of Razgatlioglu on the final lap to claim the lead for only the second time in the race, and he would cross the line first for his 20th Superbike victory.

Rea now trails Bautista by 27 points in the overall standings after this result, with Razgatlioglu a further 23 points behind the Ulsterman as the championship starts to heat up.

Rea had started on pole position after he set the Estoril lap record in qualifying with a lap of 1:32.209 and it looked like he and Razgatlioglu would battle it out the whole way as they diced back and forth across the opening few laps.

The pair made slight contact towards the end of lap three but, unlike in Assen, it didn’t take either off the track, while Bautista finally pulled clear of Manuel Locatelli in third after overtaking him down the home straight on lap five.

Both Rea and Razgatlioglu took turns holding the lead as they each overtook the other in an exciting race, however that only allowed Bautista to close the gap to half a second behind them, before Rea’s error on lap 16 dropped him down to third and he would never make up the deficit.

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Bautista briefly moved into the lead for the first time on the penultimate lap only for Razgatlioglu to claim it back shortly after, but just when it looked like the Turk was going to take the chequered flag, a fine move from the Ducati stole the win at the death.

Rea completed the podium just over four seconds down the road and he will have two more attempts in Sunday’s Superpole and second Superbike race to claw back some of the deficit to Bautista at the top.

Eugene Laverty would finish in 15th, 41 seconds behind Bautista, after starting on the third row of the grid, a disappointing return for the BMW man.

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