Photography by Gold & Goose
It was a complete flip-flop in World Superbike race two at Portimao Sunday. After his factory Aprilia broke in the first race, he charged back and took a convincing victory in race two, sprinting away from an early battle with countryman Jonathan Rea to win by 4.107 seconds. It marked his fourth victory of the season and minimized the damage in the standings of his DNF. He now is third in the standings, just 11 points down on Sykes.
“Race one never seems to go my way this year,” said Laverty, who scored his seventh career World Superbike victory. “Race two we made amends. The bike was great – we put a new engine in and everything ran perfectly. I just got to the front, kept pushing, I knew Johnny was there, but I was confident the rear grip of the Aprilia would stay until the end. Sure enough it did and I got a gap and comfortable ride home.”
Rarely spectacular, but always consistent Sylvain Guintoli, continued his methodical approach at the championship, running fourth in the opening laps, and slowly, but surely making his way to second by the end of the race, passing Rea on lap 18 of 22. That meant a pair of seconds for the Frenchman on the day. That, combined with a warm-up lap crash and no points in race two by rival Tom Sykes, means that Guintoli piled on the points. He came into the weekend just four points up on Sykes; he leaves Portugal with a 28 point lead in the standings.
Rea scored his second podium of the year, holding on to third after battling for the lead in the early going.
After winning the first race Marco Melandri was an also ran in race two. Obviously with a rear tire problem on his factory BMW, he went backwards from third to 12th at the finish.
Rea is not in a good position in the championship so second wouldn’t mean nearly as much as what a win would do for moral of team. You could tell he wanted it. He battled Laverty valiantly early, actually making a few attempts at the lead, but his grip dropped off in the second half of the race and he lost touch with Laverty and was later passed by Guintoli. Still the team had to view the first podium since Assen on the outdated Honda with favor.
Leon Camier was blitzing through the field again after a poor qualifying performance, had heartbreak when his bike broke on the front straight halfway through.
The Kawasaki team fixed enough of the damage that Sykes was able to start the race from the pit lane. He then pitted again and later set the lap record, but the race did not see enough attrition for Sykes, who was laps down, to score any points.
The series moves to Imola on June 30.
Portimao - FIM Superbike World Championship - Race 2
1. Eugene Laverty (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'02.051
2. Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'06.158
3. Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike) Honda CBR1000RR 38'07.904
4. Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'17.357
5. Chaz Davies (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 38'19.603
6. Carlos Checa (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 38'20.417
7. Jules Cluzel (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 38'31.443
8. Ayrton Badovini (Team Ducati Alstare) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 38'40.410
9. Davide Giugliano (Althea Racing) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'41.372
10. Michel Fabrizio (Red Devils Roma) Aprilia RSV4 Factory 38'46.654
11. Max Neukirchner (MR-Racing) Ducati 1199 Panigale R 38'47.390
12. Marco Melandri (BMW Motorrad GoldBet SBK) BMW S1000 RR 38'47.480
13. Federico Sandi (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 39'18.361
14. Alexander Lundh (Team Pedercini) Kawasaki ZX-10R 39'18.426
15. Vittorio Iannuzzo (Grillini Dentalmatic SBK) BMW S1000 RR 39'20.354
16. Ivan Clementi (HTM Racing) BMW S1000 RR 39'26.310
NC. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) Kawasaki ZX-10R 38'22.688
RT. Leon Camier (Fixi Crescent Suzuki) Suzuki GSX-R1000 19'11.662
1. Guintoli, 213.
2. Sykes, 185.
3. Laverty, 174.
4. Melandri, 156.
5. Davies 133.