Toprak Razgatlioglu gets a valuable pole position ahead of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam in Portimao.
This weekend, the WSBK riders take to the rollercoaster circuit of Portimao in Portugal. Toprak Razgatlioglu is 20-points clear of his championship rival Jonathan Rea going into the final stages of a nail-biting season.
Jonathan Rea has good form at the Portuguese circuit but has to do it this weekend without his team-mate Alex Lowes, who has been declared unfit to ride by Clinica Mobile and his team management. The Brit sustained an injury to his hand and wrist in a collision with Leon Haslam and Lachlan Epis at the start of Catalunya Race two. He said he is “disappointed and frustrated he can’t race”. Toprak Razgatlioglu did have his team-mate in Andrea Locatelli, but he too has an injury, sustained in a crash in FP3. He has a damaged heel so the race may be quite difficult later today.
Qualifying conditions were perfect, with the October sun beating down on the Portuguese tarmac. The 15-minute session got under way with Jonathan Rea pushing straight from the off to get some space away from the rest of the field. He set the early pace, just under a quarter of a second quicker than Toprak. Scott Redding was a little later out on the circuit and he went third while the rest of the riders were in pitlane, putting in their new super-sticky qualifying tyres into the rear of their bikes.
Leon Haslam popped up to second with five-minutes to go in a great lap on his own. He had a big crash on Friday in Free Practice but seemed to be in good form despite this.
With four-minutes to go, Toprak and Andrea Locatelli were seen chatting in the garage, seemingly discussing tactics for the next run at the quickest lap. The animations between them suggested the tyre is spinning up and they were struggling for grip, so they needed a slow out-lap. A minute later they were seen rolling down pit lane together.
Jonathan Rea started to push harder with two-minutes to go and went another tenth and a half faster to open up the gap on the rest.
Eugene Laverty – Tom Sykes’ replacement while he recovers from a concussion – fell at Turn 13 in a gentle front-end crash. He looked disgruntled with somebody, but he lost it all on his own.
Scott Redding started his last lap and was in touch with Jonathan Rea about half way round, but lost two tenths in the third sector. He went third and displaced Toprak, but the Turk was on a flyer. He was tucked in behind his team-mate and set a new lap record with a stunning lap. As his manager Keenan Sofuoglu and his team watched on, nobody could trump the Yamaha rider’s time.
First blood to Toprak Razgatlioglu as he takes pole from Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam. Scott Redding heads the second row in fourth from Michael van der Mark and Alvaro Bautista. Toprak’s wingman, Andrea Locatelli starts seventh from Garrett Gerloff on the GRT Yamaha. Chaz Davies’ replacement Loris Baz starts ninth with Michael Ruben Rinaldi rounding out the top 10.
We are set for another fairing basher between the two championship protagonists. A pivotal round in the WSBK championship gets underway later today.
Featured Images: WorldSBK.com