SBK Portimao: Melandri and Laverty Win As Guintoli Pulls Clear

by Louis Suddaby

Sylvain Guintoli has extended his lead in the Superbike World Championship to 28 points after a brace of second place finishes at Portimao. Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty did the winning, just as they did at Monza, but both hit trouble in the other race to allow the consistent Guintoli to stretch his lead.

Laverty’s failure to score in race one was through no fault of his own with the Aprilia engine expiring on lap eleven, taking him out of the lead. Polesitter Tom Sykes took up the running in his absence after a forceful move on Melandri which sent the BMW onto the run-off at turn one but Marco wasn’t finished and followed Guintoli back past the Kawasaki with four to go.

The fight would go down to the final metre of the race with Guintoli putting a desperate move on Melandri midway through the last lap but on the final run to the line, Marco would have the edge by 0.007s, the fourth smallest winning margin in SBK history. Sykes took third ahead of Leon Camier and Loris Baz but there was disappointment for Jonathan Rea who also hit mechanical problems.

In the second race, Sykes wouldn’t even get the chance to take his pole position after crashing on his way to the dummy grid. A broken sensor as a result of the crash would rule him out of contention after he’d joined from the pitlane and the path was clear for Laverty to lead from pole. The Irishman led from start to finish for his fourth win of the year as Guintoli completed an Aprilia 1-2 after a thrilling fight with Jonathan Rea. Loris Baz salvaged some points for Kawasaki with a fine fourth as Chaz Davies and Carlos Checa completed the top six, the Spaniard giving the Ducati Panigale its best result yet. Melandri though would go backwards from the get-go, tumbling to an eventual twelfth.

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