Monday, June 8

DUCATI TRIES BUT KAWASAKI IS TOO STRONG

Davide Giugliano put his Panigale on pole, and finished 4-2 at Portimao.

Ducati turned up with a new exhaust system intended to boost low rpm performance from its under-performing Panigale and was delighted when Davide Giugliano put it on pole at the seventh round of the eni Superbike World Championship at  Portimao, Portugal on Sunday.

However close analysis of practice times showed that Irishman Jonathan Rea had been consistently the fastest rider at the undulating circuit but had failed to post a searingly fast lap in Superpole. He was eighth fastest in Superpole, after setting one flying lap on race tyres and then falling at turn three shortly after.

Jonathan Rea was again too good,
scoring yet another double.
“I felt really confident for Superpole and maybe too much”, Rea said afterward.  “I pushed over the limit and was quite a bit faster at the braking point, with four degrees more lean angle, and I lost the front.  It was a fast crash but I am OK.  In the afternoon practice session before Superpole we had a very good rhythm.  My race pace is really good the only problem is starting from the third row and the guys with good pace are on the front row.  For me tomorrow will be about the start and the first laps.  I just have to make sure the opening laps are clean and that I can get through traffic.  I think the race will be decided from the middle to the end but I have to make sure I am there at the middle point.”
Before the first race the next day, dark clouds loomed and the teams understood that if it rainy had to be ready to bring their riders in and change tyres.  There is no changing bikes in the pit stops in the Superbike World Championship.

While Rea was back on the third row of the grid, Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes started from the middle of the front row, sandwiched between the Ducatis of Giugliano and Chaz Davies.
Sykes made a terrific start to snatch the lead but not as good as Rea, who shot through to fourth, took third away from Giugliano and then passed Davies for second before the first lap was over.

Bad luck spoiled what should have been
a great day for Tom Sykes.
From there he worked to close the gap to Sykes, taking the lead on the tenth lap.  Behind the two Kawasakis, Leon Haslam got the better of Davies for third, using the straight line speed of his Aprilia to advantage.

But Haslam messed up his braking and Davies took third place back off him.  Light rain sprinkled before becoming steady prompting the leaders to pit for rain tyres.  Sykes stayed out another lap, wanting  clear pit lane, rejoining just behind Rea.  Not long after he took the lead and the two Kawasaki’s battled for the lead, the result turning in Rea’s favour after Sykes’ machine encountered an electronics problem and would not rev past 9000 rpm.

Leon Haslam recovered from a first
race crash to podium in race two.
Rea thus scored the win while Sykes managed to hold out Davies’ Ducati to give Kawasaki another 1-2.

Haslam’s bid to retain second place in the championship ended when he had a bad slide after his pit stop, falling from his bike.  He remounted to finish twelfth.

Behind Davies, Giugliano brought his Ducati home fourth, ahead of the Pata Honda of reigning champion Sylvain Guintoli.

Click here for Race One results.

With the rain cleared and the track dry, the second race saw Sykes again at the front battling the Ducatis of Davies and Giugliano with Rea again making a lightning start from the third row.  Before the first lap was over, Rea was up to fourth and closing.

On the second lap Rea nipped past Davies and chased Giugliano who was having a good battle for the lead with Sykes.  Rea probed here and there and after nine laps finally made it to the front, immediately opening up a gap on Sykes and Giugliano.
Sykes then started to slow, his rear Pirelli slowly deflating as the result of a damaged wheel rim.  The hapless Yorkshireman then slipped down the order, finishing in eighth place.

Jonathan Rea is looking odds-on for 
his first world championship.

Out front Rea was managing his lead over Giugliano while Haslam was on the charge, displacing Davies from third to finish on the podium.  Davies was fourth from the Pata Hondas of Mark van der Mark and Guintoli.

Out front Rea took his tenth win from 14 races, beginning the second half of the season the way he started the year.  When he hasn’t won he has finished second so faces the remaining 12 races with a commanding 330 points, 124 ahead of second placed championship contender, team-mate Sykes.

Click here for Race Two results.