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WorldSBK Portimao: Rea in control for FP1

Kawasaki Racing’s Jonathan Rea meant business from the off as WorldSBK practice kicked off at Portimao, topping FP1 with a 1’41.542.

Garrett Gerloff and Alex Lowes completed the top three from Toprak Razgatlioglu, Loris Baz and Scott Redding, with less than half a second covering the top six.

The final weekend in the Iberian triple header saw Tito Rabat return to the superbike class, this time on the Puccetti Kawasaki after splitting with Barni Racing Ducati at Magny-Cours. The Spaniard takes over from Lucas Mahias with the Frenchman sitting out for the remainder of the season. Eugene Laverty was back aboard the BMW as Tom Sykes continues his recovery from the Barcelona crash - the Northern Irishman enjoying his second home round, due to living just down the road from the Algarve Circuit.


Rea threw in a hot lap before immediately returning to the pits as Friday’s morning practice fired up. Razgatlioglu taking charge of the standings with his third effort - a 1.41.961 - as the session bedded in with Baz splitting the pair on the Go Eleven Ducati moments later.

Redding was up to second after the opening quarter of an hour, the gap just 0.058s to the title leader with half an hour to go while Lowes advanced to trail his KRT teammate from fifth.

The Kawasaki pair were soon on the move however, taking the top two in tandem, Rea in the lead thanks to a 1’41.554 with the still injured Lowes just 0.149 of the pace behind.

Samuele Cavalieri became the first victim of the rollercoaster at the halfway stage, the Italian crashing out while Rea saved his own moment over the crest at turn 10.

An impressive start to the day found Garrett Gerloff circulating fourth, just three-tenths off the pace and ahead of Redding and HRC’s Alvaro Bautista before Razgatlioglu once again moved the goal posts. The second Honda of Leon Haslam skittling through the gravel trap at turn seven with 20 minutes to go, Laverty suffering his own fall one corner later after nine laps on track.

The closing stages saw little challenge to the times until the final minute. Gerloff advancing to second and Baz up to fifth, with the American improving again on his final effort to sit just nine-thousandths behind Rea’s leading lap - before it was deleted after the flag due to track limits. The Kawasaki, however, consolidated his control by fine-tuning his pace with his final effort, 1’41.542 concluding FP1.

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