2012 Portimao WSBK Race One: The Title Fight Goes On
The rains visited Portugal in the morning and the Superstock 1000 race was pushed back to late afternoon. Race one was run as a wet race and all but one rider started with full wet tyres.
As the lights went out, Marco Melandri got to the first turn first but was passed on the exit by Carlos Checa. Eugene Laverty very quickly took the lead off Checa. The front pack included Max Biaggi and Jonathan Rea. The weather looked like it could play a serious role in the race. Then, an ambitious Melandri went for a gap inside Biaggi that wasn't there, punting Biaggi wide and putting himself on the floor. As Biaggi escaped the disaster, Melandri took out Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano ending the race for all three of them and causing Davies to dance in and out of slow traffic coming through the accident. After Melandri's third DNF in a row, he once again didn't pick up his bike. Melandri's team mate Leon Haslam avoided the carnage by choosing an intermediate tyre and ruling himself out of challenging at the front. All of this was on the first lap and at the beginning of the third lap, Biaggi crossed the line reading the news "MELAN OUT" on his pit board. He settled past Carlos Checa in third place behind Eugene Laverty and Jonathan Rea. Tom Sykes, 1.5 seconds slower a lap than Biaggi was in 5th, being troubled by Leon Camier, Brett McCormick and Sylvain Guintoli. Guintoli and McCormick past a clearly struggling Sykes.
Six laps completed, Eugene Laverty stuck his foot out on the straight, signalling to Max Biaggi, who the previous lap had blasted past Jonathan Rea at the same straight, to pass him for the lead. Biaggi made a break and both Rea and Carlos Checa followed him past Laverty.
Norino Brignola, pushing hard in 9th place, lost grip and crashed out and as the marshals picked up his bike, they noticed oil gushing from underneath and prudently had the race red flagged.
As Melandri went to hospital to get a suspected bruised kidney checked out, the returning riders were able to get their bikes changed, playing into the hands of Tom Sykes, who was suffering from a grip issue caused by suspension/electronics, and Leon Haslam, who was able to switch to more appropriate tyres. As the restart was taken as six laps completed, it was to be a sixteen lap race with Biaggi in 2nd behind Laverty and Sykes in 7th.
In the restart, nobody chanced the intermediates as the entire grid chose the wet Pirellis.
Max Biaggi made a great and held the lead for three laps, but Tom Sykes closed and then passed him on the outside of the exit of the last corner. Sylvain Guintoli and Brett McCormick carved past Jonathan Rea to catch Biaggi, bringing Carlos Checa with them. With ten laps remaining, the rain started to drizzle a little, proving the choice of tyres correct.
Tom Sykes eked out a three second lead, but as Carlos Checa and Sylvain Guintoli fought, they closed the gap to a second and a half and Checa took second place and charged down Sykes at around half a second a lap, the Spaniard setting fastest lap after fastest lap. The last three laps were fought with Checa on Sykes's rear wheel, probing for a pass, but on the last lap, Sykes rode perfectly and kept his title chances very much alive as he won his third race of the season. With the Ducatis of Checa and a jobless Guintoli filling the remaining podium spots, Max Biaggi had to fight an astounding Brett McCormick off to keep fourth place. Jonathan Rea had to settle for sixth.
As the British national anthem played, as Biaggi missed the podium, as Melandri sat in hospital, Tom Sykes fought hard to keep his title challenge alive and it paid off in spades.
|1||66||SYKES T||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'56.554|
|2||7||CHECA C||Ducati 1098R||1'56.477||0.300|
|3||50||GUINTOLI S||Ducati 1098R||1'56.976||2.732|
|4||3||BIAGGI M||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||1'57.776||11.564|
|5||68||MCCORMICK B||Ducati 1098R||1'57.711||11.771|
|6||65||REA J||Honda CBR1000RR||1'57.510||11.792|
|7||76||BAZ L||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'58.857||28.693|
|8||4||AOYAMA H||Honda CBR1000RR||1'58.225||29.581|
|9||86||BADOVINI A||BMW S1000 RR||1'58.423||31.507|
|10||84||FABRIZIO M||BMW S1000 RR||1'59.004||31.587|
|11||2||CAMIER L||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'59.449||31.710|
|12||21||HOPKINS J||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'59.421||33.167|
|13||58||LAVERTY E||Aprilia RSV4 Factory||1'59.614||37.843|
|14||5||LUNDH A||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'59.481||37.993|
|15||151||BAIOCCO M||Ducati 1098R||1'59.111||39.397|
|16||87||ZANETTI L||Ducati 1098R||1'58.604||39.666|
|17||64||BRIGNOLA N||BMW S1000 RR||1'59.418||42.434|
|18||57||LANZI L||Ducati 1098R||1'59.859||1'00.356|
|19||91||HASLAM L||BMW S1000 RR||1'56.887||1 Lap|
|RET||44||SALOM D||Kawasaki ZX-10R||2'01.277||6 Laps|