Kawasaki's Tom Sykes won the red flag-interrupted first World Superbike race in Portimao, Portugal, thrusting himself clearly into the championship fight. Points leader Max Biaggi (Aprilia) was fourth, while former title hopeful Marco Melandri (BMW) failed to finish the first lap, and also failed to finish for the third race in a row.
Melandri fell on the first lap while fighting with Biaggi. The two made contact when Melandri made an aggressive move, but Biaggi was able to continue. Not so for a few others. Althea Racing Ducati's Davide Giugliano was taken out by Melandri's bike, while ParkinGO MTC Racing's Chaz Davies (Aprilia) unavoidably hit Melandri.
The race continued with Biaggi just moving into the lead when Grillini BMW's Norino Brignola crashed, with oil from his bike bringing out the red flag on the seventh lap. Scoring reverted to the previous lap with Aprilia's Eugene Laverty in front of Biaggi, Honda World Superbike Jonathan Rea, and Althea Racing Ducati's Carlos Checa.
After a lengthy delay to clean the track, the now 16-lap was re-started with Biaggi in front for two laps before Sykes took over. The Englishman built a lead over over three seconds before it came down towards the end of the race. Checa made a late run at him, coming up short by .300 sec. PATA Racing Team's Sylvain Guintoli was third at 2.732 sec.
Biaggi won the tightly fought battle of fourth over Team Effenbert Liberty Racing's Brett McCormick, the Canadian finishing a career best fifth, and Rea. The trio was covered by .228 sec.
Biaggi continues to lead the championship with 331 points to 316.5 for Sykes, now in second. Melandri is stuck on 308.5 in third.
Portimao World Superbike Results:
1. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki)
2. Carlos Checa (Ducati)
3. Sylvain Guintoli (Ducati)
4. Max Biaggi (Aprilia)
5. Brett McCormick (Ducati)
6. Jonathan Rea (Honda)
7. Loris Baz (Kawasaki)
8. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda)
9. Ayrton Badovini (BMW)
10. Michel Fabrizio (BMW)
11. Leon Camier (Suzuki)
12. John Hopkins (Suzuki)