Tom Sykes extended his championship lead with a third straight victory in testing conditions at Portimao. The defending champion led from start to finish, holding his nerve despite mid-race drizzle, to beat chief rival Sylvain Guintoli.
After finding a way past early leader Jonathan Rea, Sykes opened up a three second advantage while the chasing pack squabbled over the podium positions. Rain shortly after half distance threatened to turn the race on its head with Aprilia duo Guintoli and Marco Melandri rising to the head of the chase group while Sykes, forced to judge grip levels on his own, saw his lead slashed in half.
With no reference point ahead to assess the track, Sykes’ supremacy looked to be sliding away but the drizzle eased five laps from the finish, allowing the Kawasaki rider to rebuild his advantage. Tom’s dominance in the dry saw him cruise home to victory and the Yorkshireman admitted he was relieved to see conditions improve late on.
“I enjoy winning races and the good thing is that the Ninja ZX-10R is giving me the feedback to be able to do this so I am very happy at the moment. I had a poor start in race one and it is a long race round here, long enough race to make some corrections. I am happy because we had a good gap then the rain started to come. When you are leading the championship and leading the race you do not want to do anything stupid and it was very difficult to calculate the levels of grip because in some parts of the circuit it was raining more heavily than in others. The team gave me great pit board signals and luckily the cloud disappeared with a good amount of laps left, to go so I could take an advantage again.”
Guintoli took second with Loris Baz snatching third from Melandri during the drizzle. Jonathan Rea fell to fifth but his teammate Leon Haslam saw a promising race end when rain began to fall, clashing with Chaz Davies at turn five. Alex Lowes took advantage of traffic on the final lap to beat Davide Giugliano and Eugene Laverty to sixth with the EVO victory going to ninth placed David Salom after a photo finish saw him edge out Sylvain Barrier.