Jonathan Rea made it two WorldSBK Superpoles in a row as he led a Kawasaki Racing Team 1-2 in qualifying for Round 11 of the 2023 WorldSBK season at Portimao.
The Ulsterman, who is now deep into what is his penultimate outing with Kawasaki before his high-profile switch to Yamaha in 2024, went against the grain of usual tactics by ducking out for his final time attack well in advance of his rivals.
It meant he had the Portuguese circuit to himself as he turned in a session-topping 1m 39.620secs lap, which leapfrogged him ahead of team-mate Alex Lowes, the Englishman having been provisionally quickest after the first wave of fast efforts.
Rea’s decision to strike early would prove to be a savvy one after yellow flags deployed in the closing minutes for Xavi Vierge at Turn 13 and then Alex Lowes at Turn 1 just as others were approaching to start their final laps scuppered several improvements.
They would prove critical for Michael Ruben Rinaldi, who saw his front row start taken away by stewards due to yellow flags, demoting him to 13th, while Remy Gardner was also denied a strong grid slot for the same reasons.
It means Lowes - despite, or perhaps because of, his late slip-off - joins Rea at the head of the grid, the KRT duo to be joined by Toprak Razgatlioglu on the front row in Race 1, before Andrea Locatelli takes up third on the grid in Sunday’s Superpole Race.
Indeed, it was Locatelli that would post the third fastest time of the session, but the Italian will be demoted to the back of the grid for Race 1 as punishment for not heeding black/orange flags during his technical retirement at Aragon last weekend.
As such, for this afternoon’s first race, Razgatlioglu will assume a potentially crucial front row start, putting him a bit further ahead of title rival Alvaro Bautista, who could only manage fifth fastest.
Indeed, the Spaniard was the hot favourite for pole position based on free practice, only to make mistakes on his best laps when it mattered. He will, nonetheless, start an elevated fourth in Race 1.
As rumours of his future continue to circulate, Iker Lecuona gave Honda a good shot at a strong result with the sixth best time, ahead of top BMW rider Michael van der Mark in seventh, Danilo Petrucci eighth, Gardner in ninth and Philipp Oettl in tenth. Each aforementioned rider ascends one position for Race 1 as a result of Locatelli’s penalty.
|2023 Portimao WorldSBK | Portimao | Superpole Qualifying Results | Round 11 of 12|
|1||Jonathan Rea||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1m 39.620|
|2||Alex Lowes||🇬🇧||Kawasaki Racing Team||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1m 39.762|
|3 *||Andrea Locatelli||🇮🇹||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||1m 39.872|
|4||Toprak Razgatlioglu||🇹🇷||Pata Crescent Racing||Yamaha R1||1m 39.891|
|5||Alvaro Bautista||🇪🇸||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||1m 39.989|
|6||Iker Lecuona||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||1m 40.133|
|7||Michael van der Mark||🇳🇱||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||1m 40.171|
|8||Danilo Petrucci||🇮🇹||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||1m 40.198|
|9||Remy Gardner||🇦🇺||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||1m 40.207|
|10||Philipp Oettl||🇩🇪||Go Eleven||Ducati Panigale V4 R||1m 40.262|
|11||Scott Redding||🇬🇧||BMW Motorrad WorldSBK||BMW M 1000 RR||1m 40.381|
|12||Garrett Gerloff||🇺🇲||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||1m 40.385|
|13||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||🇮🇹||Aruba Ducati||Ducati Panigale V4 R||1m 40.385|
|14||Xavi Vierge||🇪🇸||Team HRC||Honda CBR1000RR-R||1m 40.453|
|15||Axel Bassani||🇮🇹||Motocorsa Racing||Ducati Panigale V4 R||1m 40.473|
|16||Loris Baz||🇫🇷||Bonovo Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||1m 40.594|
|17||Dominique Aegerter||🇨🇭||GYTR GRT||Yamaha R1||1m 40.672|
|18||Bradley Ray||🇬🇧||Motoxracing||Yamaha R1||1m 41.147|
|19||Lorenzo Baldassarri||🇮🇹||GMT 94||Yamaha R1||1m 41.286|
|20||Tito Rabat||🇪🇸||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1m 41.754|
|21||Hafizh Syahrin||🇲🇾||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||1m 41.895|
|22||Isaac Vinales||🇪🇸||TPR by Vinales Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1m 42.121|
|23||Eric Granado||🇧🇷||MIE Racing||Honda CBR1000RR-R||1m 42.298|
|24||Gabriele Ruiu||🇮🇹||B-Max Racing||BMW M 1000 RR||1m 42.554|
|25||Oliver Konig||🇨🇿||Orelac Racing||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||1m 43.635|
|* Locatelli to start Race 1 from back of grid as punishment for not heeding B/O flags in Aragon|