Jonathan Rea blasted the field to take his fourth victory at the Portuguese track, and his tenth victory of the season.
Before racing commenced, his team mate Tom Sykes had been ruled out of proceedings entirely due to a crash in FP3, which was reminiscent of an American in a late night bar trying to stay on a bucking bronco. The off saw his bike (and his arm) go up in flames but he escaped with burns and a dislocated finger, which was extremely lucky considering the scale of the crash. He was, however, declared unfit to race.
— Andy Dickerson (@ajdickerson1968) September 16, 2017
Between qualifying and race one, Pirelli announced that they were withdrawing the soft development rear ‘A’ compound tyre – one which many riders including Rea had been using throughout the weekend – due to fears that it wouldn’t be safe to run for a full race distance, because of excessive wear after around seventeen laps.
But changing to the ‘B’ compound tyre didn’t phase Rea at all, as he stormed off the line to a 2.2 second gap by the end of lap one. Behind him, Davies was up to fifth after starting from ninth on the grid due to a crash in qualifying. All eyes had fallen to the two Milwaukee Aprilias of Eugene Laverty and Lorenzo Savadori who had qualified exceptionally well in second and third respectively. Although Savadori soon dropped back through the pack, Laverty put up an excellent fight at the front. Davies soon worked his way into second, and it was left to him to hunt down Rea at the front who was constantly creating a gap out front.
For the first time in what felt like forever, there was the tiniest glint of excitement in a World Superbike race. And that came in the form of the battle for third – which didn’t really turn out to be a battle at all. With Marco Melandri running in third and Leon Camier closing in behind him, it looked like it could possibly go down to the wire between the two. Just as it looked as if Camier was closing in enough to make a move, Melandri found some time in the final sectors of the last lap, to take third just 0.4 seconds ahead of Camier. Although Camier bought the MV Agusta home in fourth, he will take pole position in tomorrow’s race, and he should be able to take some comfort from that.
There were a few crashes during the course of the twenty laps, the first of those being Stefan Bradl who had worked his way up to an impressive sixth place. Just a couple of laps later, Alex Lowes slid out at turn five and towards the end of the race Leandro Mercado went down at turn thirteen, leaving his bike stranded in the middle of the track and a flustered Argentinian flailing around whilst trying to decide whether or not it would be safe to retrieve it.
Rea’s dominant performance today sees him sitting with a 95 point advantage over Tom Sykes in the overall standings. But Davies’ second place finish in race one has brought him within fifteen points of Sykes, who won’t be racing tomorrow.
WSBK race one results:
1. Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Racing Team – 34:38.383
2. Chaz Davies, Aruba.it Racing Ducati + 6.189
3. Marco Melandri, Aruba.it Racing Ducati + 10.116
4. Leon Camier, MV Agusta Reparto Corse + 10.508
5. Michael van der Mark, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team + 13.739
6. Jordi Torres, Althea BMW Racing Team + 16.816
7. Eugene Laverty, Milwaukee Aprilia + 18.786
8. Lorenzo Savadori, Milwaukee Aprilia + 22.090
9. Xavi Fores, BARNI Racing Team Ducati + 28.430
10. Roman Ramos, Team Kawasaki Go Eleven + 38.746
11. Raffaele De Rosa, Althea BMW Racing Team + 43.181
12. Ayrton Badovini, Grillini Racing Team + 43.212
13. Anthony West, Kawasaki Puccetti Racing + 43.325
14. Riccardo Russo, Pedercini Racing SC – Project + 43.412
15. Takumi Takahashi, Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team + 54.303
16. Ondrej Jezek, Grillini Racing Team + 59.880
17. Alessandro Andreozzi, Guandalini Racing + 1:04.441