EM – Jonathan Rea sets standards in Portuguese practice

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James Robinson

Jonathan Rea threw down the gauntlet yesterday as he led both free practice sessions at Portimao, Portugal to kick off a crucial weekend in the Superbike World Championship.

The Northern Irish rider fell last Over the weekend in Jerez, Spain, 20 points behind Turkish Toprak Razgatlioglu, where his 24-year-old rival extended his lead on the championship summit with a hard-earned double.

With only three rounds of the 2021 series remaining, Rea is eager to to close the gap to Razgatlioglu on a track where he has won 12 times during his WSBK career.

The 34-year-old came out with all his weapons burning yesterday when Rea started the first day with a benchmark of 1.41, 466 minutes finished.

Razgatlioglu was fifth fastest on the Pata Yamaha, almost three tenths behind him. Rea’s team-mate Alex Lowes took second place in the time sheet ahead of Leon Haslam on the factory Honda and the American Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha).

Portimao is the last European championship of this year’s championship, with Argentina (15-17 October) and Indonesia (November 19-21) will host the final two rounds of the year.

It’s a pivotal weekend for Rea in his quest for an unprecedented seventh consecutive World Championship and the Kawasaki rider is determined to make it count.

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“It’s a good opportunity to have a good weekend, forget what’s going on with the championship and maximize the chances,” said Rea.

“I’m enjoying the track and the first time The fact that I came here was the opening of the track in 2008 and it has always been very nice to me, I’ve had a lot of success here.

“Of course it’s not easy, we had some technical difficulties and Toprak is doing a very good job, very consistent, but [in terms of] dramatic and emotionally exhausting, was probably the most ‘mental’ championship of 2019. “he added.

” Having the momentum that I have with the championship points [ against Alvaro Bautista] was really incredible, so this year, although it is difficult, we are still working on our best.

“We have a weekend off after that and it is the last of the triple header games. We will try to make it count. “

Rea benefited from a som mertest in Portimao, which should do him good before today’s opening race (14:00 BST).

“The Portimao crew did a good job with the surface and apart from maybe two key areas, the track is like a snooker Table – so smooth and you can really have fun riding the bike here. ”

Eugene Laverty will also be back at work this weekend when he will replace Tom Sykes in the BMW Motorrad Team for the second time in a row.

Sykes suffered a concussion in an accident in Catalunya in Barcelona, ​​which opened the door to Laverty to step in and accompany Dutchman Michael van der Mark on the M1000RR.

Laverty entered the first four laps in the BMW Team RC Squadra Corse, but has not raced for the Italian team since Donington Park after the team took a break due to internal problems.

The penultimate round of the British Superbike Championship Showdown will take place this weekend in Donington Park.

Carrickfergus man Glenn Irwin is eighth in the overall standings and was tenth fastest in free practice on the Honda Racing Fireblade yesterday, brother Andrew on the SYNETIQ BMW in 11th place.

Race one ends today 12.30 p.m., as bad weather threatens. Tomorrow’s BSB races are scheduled for 1:00 p.m. and 4:15 p.m.

Also today the final round of the Ulster Superbike Championship will take place in Bishopscourt in Co Down.

Alastair Seeley has the superbike in the last round – and Supersport titles won on IFS Yamaha machines and will be the man to beat in the season finale.

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