Scott Redding wins a very tense race on the soft tyre to beat Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea to the line.
Clear skies above Estoril with Jonathan Rea on pole, Scott Redding in 2nd and Garrett Gerloff in 3rd. Alex Lowes lost his lap time along with six other riders for a yellow flag infringement.
There was a mix of tyre choices with Toprak and Redding on the softer SCX tyre, which is designed for the Sprint Race. Rea went for the safer, harder choice.
As the lights went out, Rea got the jump but Scott Redding sailed up the inside, followed by Toprak. Rea sat in 3rd with Michael Ruben Rinaldi in 4th after a fantastic start. Lucas Mahias was the biggest gainer on the start, moving up from 9th to 5th.
Rinaldi made a move on Rea on the second lap and moved into 3rd at Turn 2 with a very tidy overtake. Rea looked to be getting held up by Rinaldi and was swarming the back of the Ducati immediately after the overtake, and finally made a move into Turn 1 on the next lap. Garrett Gerloff dropped backwards off the start and was in 7th when the race eventually settled down.
Alex Lowes moved up into 5th after starting 10th due to his penalty and started to get the laps together to try to bridge the gap back to Rinaldi and Rea.
Redding and Toprak moved clear of Rea as he started to create a gap from Rinaldi. Only a tenth or two per lap but he was definitely gapping the Ducati with 17laps to go.
Eugene Laverty was sat in a magnificent 7th onboard his RC Squadra Corse BMW. He was the leading BMW until lap 8. He fell at Turn 7 after tucking the front under pressure from Michael Van Der Mark.
Samuele Cavalieri fell at Turn 7 to put the yellow flags out. WSBK has been a steep learning curve for the young Italian.
Alex Lowes looked to be putting a good race together but fell with 13 laps to go. He was rolling off in a cloud of dust and that was the last we saw of the Brit.
The rider who put an impressive first half of the race was the relatively absent Alvaro Bautista on his Honda Fireblade. He started 18th and worked his way up to a clear 8th after picking off half of the field to get there. After crashing three times this weekend, he needed an uplift.
Jonathan Rea had worked his way within 0.5 seconds of Toprak at the half way point of the race. He spent a few laps sat in 3rd and stealthily worked his way back to the leading two riders, who were both on the softer tyre. He didn’t really get much closer than that and the gap was yoyoing between 0.5 to 1 second.
With five laps to go, Toprak started to look a lot racier than he had been previously. He as all over the rear end of the Ducati. Scott Redding started to take wider, sweeping lines while Toprak was taking tighter lines. Rea started to get closer to the Yamaha with four laps to go and it was setting up to be a very tense finish. Rea got alongside Toprak as they crossed the line with three to go, but the Yamaha rider is so strong on the brakes, Rea couldn’t complete the move. Scott Redding moved six tenths clear on the penultimate lap, but that wasn’t a big enough gap to be comfortable.
Rea got a good run out of the final corner into the final lap but Toprak again was far too strong on the brakes for Rea to even show the Turkish rider his front wheel. Rea was right on the rear of the 2nd place Yamaha out of the final corner but couldn’t quite pip him to the line.
Redding was first to cross the line with Toprak 2nd and Rea 3rd in the very tense race right to the end. After a bad start, Garrett Gerloff finished in 4th just in front of Michael Ruben Rinaldi. Chaz Davies had a great recovery into 6th in front of Michael van der Mark, Alvaro Bautista and Tito Rabat. Rookie, Andrea Locatelli got himself another Top 10 in 10th, so a solid start to the season for the Italian.
The championship has closed up again with Jonathan Rea still leading, but Scott Redding has closed the gap and now sits in 2nd. The races tomorrow will be crucial for everybody involved but Scott Redding is the man to beat at the moment after winning two on the bounce.
Featured image: Ducati