Without forgetting the tragic weekend in Jerez and with the memory of the long-awaited Dean Berta Viñales in their minds, WorldSBK bites down once again to head to their next World Cup stop. The series motorcycle competition meets its appointment in Portugal, where they will contest the penultimate appointment of the tightest season in recent years. Toprak Razgatlioglu and Jonathan Rea turn to look at each other, although the Yamaha rider greets him, this time, from further afield.
20 points are what separate them after the Turk won the only two races held in Jerez (the Superpole Race was canceled to restructure the activity suspended on Saturday due to the fatal accident at Supersport 300). Two tests that he was able to make the most of because, in the second race of the day, the Kawasaki rider couldn’t even get on the podium: he stayed in fifth place, suffering like never before in Jerez. And, the reality at this point of the year is that each point counts more than ever. His hegemony in SBK is no longer threatened, it is directly in danger.
However, it may have to be Razgatlioglu himself who is leading the way in Portimao. Leader arrives, yes, But it lands in hunting ground for Jonathan Rea, a circuit in which you practically only know victory. 12 wins, 21 podiums and four poles. Numbers of a world champion versus another who wants to be at all costs. But the Yamaha rider has only won twice at the Portuguese track: one in the European Superstock 1000, in 2017 and another in Superstock 600, in 2015. Four years after the last win, it’s time to change it.
Meanwhile, Scott Redding remains vigilant for what may happen. After the two podiums in Jerez, the Briton is 69 points behind Razgatlioglu and Rea but, a failure of the two, could put him in a final fight in the last rounds of the season, which are held in Argentina and Thailand. Far away Alvaro Bautista, which is putting the finishing touch to his journey with HRC at the top: two podiums in two races, the best he has achieved with the brand of To Golden. Now, only victory remains, difficult with the level imposed by the contenders for the SBK title.
Tito Rabat returns to Superbikes
After two dates absent from the championship, Tito Rabat returns to the premier class of this competition at the hands of Kawasaki. His goodbye to Ducati was known just a few weeks ago, after debuting with them at SBK at the start of the season. A decision that was reached by mutual agreement for not achieving the results or the expected level and that put the Spanish in search of a new adventure. Now, The former MotoGP rider will get on a Puccetti Racing Kawasaki as a replacement for Lucas Mahias, still recovering from a left hand scaphoid fracture.
Adrián Huertas plays it
Supersport 300 will end its season this weekend in Portimao and Adrián Huertas has everything to win. After a bad round in Jerez, the Spaniard arrives with everything to face to be champion of the smallest category of this World Cup. 36 points separate him from his main rival, Jeffrey Buis, after Tom Booth-Amos, failed to receive medical clearance to run last week. In fact, another review is still pending in Portugal. For this reason, Huertas could be champion already on Saturday: he needs a distance of 26 points in case his teammate wins Race 1 and a margin of 25 points in case it is the Spaniard who takes the victory.
Supersport still has two more dates left to put the final touch on the season, but Dominique Aegerter could be proclaimed champion already this weekend. Unlike Adrián Huertas, the MotoE rider will have to wait for Sunday, also pending the results of the first race on Saturday. With a current distance of 62 points over Steven Odendaal, Aegerter has to finish the Portuguese round with a margin of 100 points over his rival.