Race 1 in Portimao may have produced a lights-to-flag victory for Jonathan Rea but Saturday also produced plenty of drama.
Rea's teammate, Tom Sykes, has been forced to sit out the weekend after fracturing a finger in a nasty crash during FP3. The 2013 WorldSBK champion highsided over the top of Jones' Leap and was thrown from his Kawasaki, leaving him battered and bruised from the crash. Having been given some strong pain medication it was ruled that Sykes would be unfit for the rest of the weekend. The Englishman was in low spirits after the incident but should be back in full fitness in the near future.
His teammate was certainly in high spirits after the race when he assessed his performance.
"This weekend in general has been really positive,” said the victor. “We've not changed the bike a lot since the test because the bike has been working really well. I have been working on myself and what I can change on the bike. We got a really good start and we made the best of the tire, once the gap was at five seconds we aimed to pull the gap and it seemed we had extra even at the end. Riding the bike is a pleasure and I want to thank my team for the amazing package."
While Rea will walk away with 25 points from the race his chief rival, Chaz Davies, was able to recover from a Superpole crash to fight from ninth on the grid to second at the flag. It was a superb fightback from the Welshman but after the race he made clear that there was still work to be done for tomorrow's race where he will once again come from the third row of the grid.
"It was a definitely a recovery and that was what we had to hope for today,” said Davies. “Rea's pace has been unbeatable all weekend, and it was all I could to get into the podium fight. To be honest I didn't expect to get there quite as quickly. I am happy with the result but not how the bike felt, we need to address why I couldn't extract 100% out of myself and see what we can do tomorrow."
Behind Davies and Rea a battle royale shaped up in the closing laps with Marco Melandri and Leon Camier fighting it out for third. Camier was chasing MV Agusta's first ever WorldSBK podium and ultimately came up just short of the rostrum. It was a valiant effort that will be rewarded with pole position for Race 2.
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