Jonathan Rea took another step towards retaining the WorldSBK championship after a dominant weekend at the Portuguese round of the series. In Race 2 the Northern Irishman took longer to hit the front but the end result was the same: 25 points.
The victory saw Rea extend his title lead to 120 points over his Kawasaki teammate, Tom Sykes. With the Englishman sitting out this weekend due to injury, Rea's path to the title was given an unexpected boost, but overall it was business as usual for the 30 year old. In claiming his 34th Kawasaki victory he became the Japanese manufacturer's most successful rider of all time.
“I'm very happy to win and aside from one little issue it was plain sailing in the race,” said Rea. “I made some tough passes in the first laps to get my track position and as soon as I hit the front I made my rhythm and went away. We had a completely different bike setup today and I had a lot of feedback from the bike. I was able to ride in my own rhythm but with seven or eight laps to go I had a drop in power in second gear.
“The laps were ticking down and I could see that the gap was staying constant. Then I saw Chaz went out and I had some breathing space. We have had our bad luck this year in Donington. The championship lead is massive now, and we can go to Magny-Cours thinking about trying to win it in France. If we have a solid enough weekend in Magny-Cours we can get it done. I said to [crew chief] Pere [Riba] before the race today that because Kawasaki had won every race at Portimao there was big pressure now. He said that there was no pressure as we had done all the jobs, and I should go out and do what I had to do.”
For Rea's chief title rivals it was a miserable day with Chaz Davies crashing out of contention. The Welshman was running second when in the closing stages he lost the front at Turn 2. While Davies was distraught there was delight for Michael van der Mark, with the Dutchman claiming his first WorldSBK podium for Yamaha.
“I am really happy, this season we have come close a couple of time and we have had a bit of bad luck,” said the Yamaha rider. “I had a good start, I struggled with the grip in the beginning, I found my rhythm and It was enough for a podium. I want to thank my team, we have worked so hard and to finally get a podium is fantastic."
History was made in the Supersport 300 class with Ana Carrasco becoming the first ever female winner of a WorldSBK race. The Spaniard left it late to take the win by drafting her way across the finish line, but her 25 points certainly caught the attention of the world.
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