Double for Rea in Estoril
Jonathan Rea overtakes Álvaro Bautista on the last lap and completes a fantastic double win in Portugal, while Lowes takes a very good fourth place.
The third round of the World Superbike Championship has been held at the Autodromo do Estoril, Portugal. Both Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes took advantage of the first two 45-minute free practice sessions in the morning to test the general setup of their respective bikes. Rea made some changes after the first session, and was immediately able to improve certain aspects that translated into a better pace for FP2, finishing fourth overall.
In contrast, the set-up changes Lowes and his team made did not ultimately translate into the improvements they hoped for and despite setting a faster lap time in FP2 than in FP1, he finished 11th.
The following day, in qualifying, Rea recorded a new best lap of no less than 1'35.346, making this session the first Superpole for the Northern Irish rider of the season and the 36th of his career. However, the record did not last long, as he took a new one on the fourth lap of the first race (1'36.204).
The fight was intense at all times, becoming a great show for the public there present. Rea spent much of the race pitted against Toprak Razgatlioglu, both riders passing each other at every opportunity. There were no fewer than nine lead changes at the end of the race. Ultimately, though, the last lap – or rather, the last straight – saw Álvaro Bautista take the victory in Estoril.
Lowes, for his part, was eighth in qualifying, having gone off track while trying to improve on his time and starting position. The race was, again, a challenge for Alex, who finished the first lap in fifth position, before dropping to eighth and then reclaiming a place to cross the finish line in seventh.
On Sunday, Rea completed a double win much celebrated by the whole team. Toprak Razgatlioglu had the Superpole Race in the pot, but finally gave up the spot to Jonathan, almost crashing at the last turn. In Race Two, he took the victory again after overtaking the Spanish Álvaro Bautista in the last turn of the last lap.
Alex Lowes made up a lot of positions during the early part of the race, passing Bautista to move into third place. However, with eleven laps to go, the Spaniard again showed the strength of the Ducati and passed them all on the straight. But Rea didn't let him get away too much and chased after him closely. Lowes did start to fall far enough behind to stop contending for the win.
Finally, Jonathan Rea set the fastest time of the weekend and, when he was already very close to the Spaniard, he attacked at the last turn to take the victory in Estoril. Lowes finished fourth, behind Bautista and Razgatlioglu, who completed the Portuguese podium.