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WSBK Portimao: Laverty bounces back with fourth win
9 June 2013 CLICK HERE
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Eugene Laverty has clawed back ground in the fight for the World Superbike Championship title by cruising to a comfortable fourth win of the season at Portimao.
Having been denied a shot at victory in race one when he suffered mechanical issues on his Aprilia RSV4, Laverty didn't put a foot wrong during the second encounter, leading from the opening bend before steadily extending his advantage to the chequered flag.
Laverty's win came as two of his closest rivals, Tom Sykes and Marco Melandri, suffered troubles on this occasion, the latter eliminating himself from the running when he damaged his bike in a fall on the sighting lap, while a bad rear tyre would leave Melandri floundering outside the top ten.
Indeed, Sykes's issues created drama before the race had even gotten underway, the Briton damaging his machine but getting it back to the garage for swift repairs. However, though Sykes was able to start from the pit lane, two more trips to the garage would leave him well out of contention.
With no pole sitter alongside him, Laverty was clear to sweep into the first bend with the lead, the Irishman being chased by another rider who suffered a DNF in race one, Jonathan Rea on the Pata Honda.
Stretching away from the chasing pack, Laverty and Rea would circulate in tandem for the opening half of the race before the latter started fading into the clutches of Sylvain Guintoli behind him, the Frenchman eventually nosing ahead on lap 16 of 22.
However, it was far too late for Guintoli to consider chasing down his team-mate, Laverty making amends for his disappointing race one retirement to pick up a good haul of 25 points for himself and the Italian manufacturer.
Indeed, Laverty can take some heart from the knowledge that two of his closest rivals for the title suffered an afternoon to forget, with Sykes well out of the points and race one winner Melandri lumbered with a poor rear tyre that would see him plummet down the order as he wrestled with the slewing BMW.
To his credit, Melandri would get the bike to the finish line, but not before he had been dumped to 12th place having run in third position during the early laps.
With Laverty, Sykes and Melandri all enduring mixed fortunes over the course of the day, it was arguably Guintoli that came away as the day's big winner, his brace of second places putting him 28 points clear at the top of the standings after six rounds.
Though chased down by Guintoli, Rea was still able to pick up a comfortable third place finish at the end of a frustrating day, the Ulsterman finishing well ahead of Loris Baz, who spared some blushes for Kawasaki by claiming a strong fourth place.
Similarly, Chaz Davies helped BMW into the top five with a late pass on Carlos Checa, the Spaniard nonetheless giving the Alstare Ducati 1199 Panigale its best WSBK finish to date.
Jules Cluzel crossed the line seventh, albeit at the expense of Fixi Crescent Suzuki team-mate Leon Camier who retired with mechanical issues, while Ayrton Badovini and David Giugliano picked up eighth and ninth.
Michel Fabrizio rounded out the top ten, the Italian – along with Max Neukirchner – adding insult to injury to an embattled Melandri by passing the BMW rider on the final lap.
Behind them, Federico Sandi beat team-mate Alexander Lundh to the finish line for 13th, with Vittorio Iannuzzo scoring the final point in 15th.