The Portimao, Portugal, round of the World Superbike Championship saw changing fortunes for the majority of the title contenders, with Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli actually padding his points lead despite not winning either race. As a result of their misfortune, Guintoli’s points gap over second place increased to 28 points, with the Frenchman’s two podium finishes not spectacular but definitely getting the job done.
BMW's Marco Melandri took...
BMW's Marco Melandri took the win in Race One at Portimao with a last-lap pass of Sylvain Guintoli.
Race One developed into an exciting five-rider dice for the lead, with polesitter Tom Sykes on his Kawasaki, Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty and Guintoli, BMW’s Marco Melandri, and Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea swapping positions throughout the race. Rea was the first to drop out on lap nine when his Honda’s electronics failed, leaving Laverty to eventually grab the lead on lap 10, taking the point for two laps before he suffered the frustration of an engine letting go just as he was coming onto the front straight, dropping him out of the race.
Melandri inherited the lead, but Sykes drafted past on the front straight with five laps to go and forced Melandri to run off the track in turn one; the Italian recovered to latch onto the rear of Guintoli, who drafted past Sykes to take the lead with three laps remaining. Melandri swooped past Sykes a few turns later, and kept the heat on Guintoli. Melandri dove underneath the Aprilia rider to start the last lap, and despite a few counterattacks by Guintoli that saw him hold the lead briefly, Melandri managed to hold off the Frenchman’s final assault leading to the finish that resulted in a narrow 0.007-second victory (the fourth closest in WSBK history).
Tom Sykes finished third in...
Tom Sykes finished third in Race One, but a mistake on the sighting lap for Race Two resulted in no points.
Race Two saw drama before the race even began, as Sykes crashed heavily on the sighting lap when he clipped a curb. “The piece of curbstone looked quite flat, but in the last moment I realized it was a big, high curb,” recalled Sykes, “and it chucked me over the front of the bike. The bike flipped, landed on me and it was a big crash. It hurt my right leg and gave me a headache.” The Kawasaki rider managed to remount and get his bike back to the pits, but the crew was unable to get Sykes’ bike repaired in time to make it back onto the grid before the warm-up lap. This relegated Sykes to starting from the pit lane, and although he ran a number of laps (including setting the record race lap), a lengthy return to the pits saw him go eight laps down, and he scored no points.
Aprilia's Eugene Laverty rebounded...
Aprilia's Eugene Laverty rebounded from his engine failure in Race One to take an easy victory in Race Two.
With Sykes out of the picture, Laverty quickly grabbed the lead at the start and soon pulled away from the pack. Melandri was in the picture until his rear tire began to suffer problems that dropped him to an eventual 13th place finish. Rea hung tough for a number of laps before he eventually fell prey to a closing Guintoli, the Frenchman going past with six laps to go. Rea couldn’t hang with Guintoli once his rear tire grip went off, however, leaving both Aprilia riders to take the lion’s share of the podium.
World Superbike Portimao Race One results:
1. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
2. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia
3. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
4. Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
5. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki
6. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW
7. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia
8. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki
9. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
10. Federico Sandi (ITA) Kawasaki
11. Vittorio Iannuzzo (ITA) BMW
12. Ivan Clementi (ITA) BMW
13. Max Neukirchner (GER) Ducati
DNF Ayrton Badovini (ITA) Ducati
DNF Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
DNF Leon Haslam (GBR) Honda
DNF Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
DNF Alexander Lundh (SWE) Kawasaki
DNF Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia
World Superbike Portimao Race Two results:
1. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia
2. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia
3. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda
4. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki
5. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW
6. Carlos Checa (SPA) Ducati
7. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki
8. Ayrton Badovini (ITA) Ducati
9. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia
10. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia
11. Max Neukirchner (GER) Ducati
12. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW
13. Federico Sandi (ITA) Kawasaki
14. Alexander Lundh (SWE) Kawasaki
15. Vittorio Iannuzzo (ITA) BMW
16. Ivan Clementi (ITA) BMW
DNF Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki
DNF Leon Camier (GBR) Suzuki
World Superbike Championship standings (after 6 of 15 rounds)
1. Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Aprilia – 213 pts
2. Tom Sykes (GBR) Kawasaki – 185 pts
3. Eugene Laverty (IRL) Aprilia – 174 pts
4. Marco Melandri (ITA) BMW – 156 pts
5. Chaz Davies (GBR) BMW – 133 pts
6. Loris Baz (FRA) Kawasaki – 119 pts
7. Jonathan Rea (GBR) Honda – 105 pts
8. Michel Fabrizio (ITA) Aprilia – 101 pts
9. Davide Giugliano (ITA) Aprilia – 79 pts
10. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Suzuki – 72 pts