The six-time World Champion crashed in Race 1 and the Superpole Race but recovered to claim a commanding Race 2 victory in Portugal
The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve lived up to its rollercoaster nickname during the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, especially for reigning Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) after he crashed out from both Race 1 and the Tissot Superpole Race before responding in style to win Race 2 by five seconds over Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) despite starting the race from tenth.
Rea crashed out of Race 1 just moments after he took the lead of the race with a high-speed crash at Turn 15 before a similar outcome in the Tissot Superpole Race, also from the lead of the race, as he looked to regain some of the ground he lost in Saturday’s Race 1. Title rival Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) had gained ground with victory in Race 1 and sixth in the Tissot Superpole Race, but a crash in Race 2 at the same corner Rea went off at in Race 1 meant Rea was able to cut the lead to 24 points.
Explaining his weekend as a whole, Rea said: “Complicated is the word, disappointing is a better word. I’m really frustrated because my team put me in such a good position to capitalise this weekend and I threw it away. I made two silly mistakes by being impatient when my bike was working well, and I had a rhythm. I’ve already apologised to them. I was really upset with myself after the Superpole Race and I just said to the guys that we had nothing to lose. We’ve been in this position before. Let’s just try to enjoy my bike.”
Rea’s Superpole Race meant he started Sunday’s 19-lap encounter from tenth on the grid and would soon find himself at the front of the field as he pulled off an incredible start to go from the front of the fourth row to second by the end of the opening lap, before he went on to claim victory over Scott Redding (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) by just over five seconds.
Looking back on Race 2, including the “best start of my season”, Rea added: “I sat on the grid with no pressure. I just wanted to make a really good start. I had such a perfect launch; I was just going forward. It was the best start of my season. From that point, I was able to gain good track position, be clever with my passes and tried to put sectors two and three to good use. I really struggled going down that start straight into the headwind. When I could keep in front for a few laps, I knew that I was trying to keep my rhythm. I saw Toprak was out so that gave me some breathing space, I could really not buck the rhythm, enjoy the race and ride to the pit board. That was a nice feeling.”
WorldSBK heads to Argentina in two weeks and you can watch the title battle unfold in the penultimate round of the season using the WorldSBK VideoPass!