Rea Edges Closer with Portimao Double

by Louis Suddaby
Jonathan Rea - Photo Credit: Kawasaki

Jonathan Rea is potentially one victory away from the 2019 World Superbike title after taking his third consecutive double at Portimao. The Ulsterman took maximum points from the Portuguese round, extending his lead to 116 points over nearest challenger Chaz Davies, and will wrap up a fourth straight championship in race one at Magny Cours next time out if he outscores the Ducati rider by nine points.

Although Rea was virtually unstoppable in Saturday’s opening race, the day began with a surprising turn of events in Superpole as Eugene Laverty handed Milwaukee Aprilia their first ever WorldSBK pole outright. The dream turned into a nightmare for the Irishman though who was taken out of the first race by Xavi Fores before he had even completed two corners.

Even at that early stage, Rea had already seized the lead and went one to take an unchallenged win from Marco Melandri and Michael van der Mark while Chaz Davies rode bravely to secure race two pole, taking fourth from fourteenth on the grid. The Welshman showed his bravery once again in Sunday’s second race, resisting Rea for eleven laps before the world champion powered past, while van der Mark and Melandri ensured the same three riders would stand on the rostrum, albeit with the Dutchman best of the rest this time.

Tom Sykes endured another difficult weekend as his time with Kawasaki nears its end, finishing fifth in both races, while Loris Baz gave Althea BMW their best result of 2018 with sixth on Saturday. Aprilia did at least salvage something from their weekend after the disappointment of Laverty’s early exit from race one, as Lorenzo Savadori finished a competitive sixth on Sunday, one place ahead of his team-mate.

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