Rea takes Portimao Pole ahead of former team-mate Sykes

by Robert Jones

Championship leader Jonathan Rea secured his fifth Pole Position of the 2019 World Superbike season ahead of Tom Sykes and Sandro Cortese

While Rea entered the weekend as the favorite given his supreme record at the Portuguese circuit, it was title rival Alvaro Bautista who set the early pace in Superpole with the fastest lap of the weekend on his opening run.

However, with just under ten minutes remaining, Rea then produced a great lap of his own to take top spot from the Aruba.it Ducati rider, as others around him pitted for the quicker qualifying tyre.

Bautista was the first to set a hot lap, and although the Spaniard went top, his time was soon beaten by Sykes who went over six tenths quicker. 

The Motorrad BMW rider is the most successful qualifier in World Superbike, and looked poised for yet another pole. But with time still remaining, Rea made his last effort count to ultimately take pole by one tenth of a second. 

It was another great qualifying for German rider Cortese, who has been somewhat of a qualifying sensation for the GRT Yamaha Team.

Cortese has struggled to turn his qualifying performances into race results, but the former World Supersport champion will get another opportunity with his third front row start of the year.

Starting off the second row is Leon Haslam, who like his team-mate put in a great last lap, which moved him from fourteenth to fourth.

Haslam will line up alongside fellow Brit Alex Lowes and Bautista, who will need to make a great start from sixth if he as any chance of challenging Rea. 

Seventh on the grid is Jordi Torres of the Pedercini Racing Kawasaki Team, with Marco Melandri, Markus Reiterberger and Michael Van Der Mark rounding out the top ten.

It was a disappointing session for the two in-form riders Chaz Davies and Toprak Razgatlioglu, who will start twelfth and thirteenth respectively. 

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