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Sam Lowes has taken another important step towards the 2013 World Supersport Championship title after claiming a stunning fourth straight victory in an exhilarating race at Portimao.
An incredible race that would go all the way to the wire, Lowes, Fabien Foret, Kenan Sofuoglu and Michael van der Mark would engage in a magnificent scrap over the final three laps, a battle that would only be decided just corners from the chequered flag.
Prior to the spectacular final few laps, the fight for the win looked as though it would be settled between Foret – who led for the first-half of the race -, Lowes and Sofuoglu, but the race would come alive in the closing stages as a charging Michael van der Mark hauled himself into contention having been almost three seconds adrift at one stage.
Indeed, though the trio would each enjoy spells in the lead in the run up to the race's crescendo, particularly down the home stretch as they repeatedly slip-streamed one another, van der Mark's arrival on the Pata Honda would throw an unexpected curve ball into the mix as he carried his momentum to at one stage get himself up to second place.
Coming into the penultimate lap, it was Sofuoglu that had muscled his way to the front, with van der Mark squeezing ahead of Lowes, who in turn had Foret – who was proving quick despite some curious racing lines and several wide moments – latched onto his back wheel.
However, van der Mark's hopes were dealt a blow when Sofuoglu ran wide directly ahead into turn ten and baulked him, which coupled to Lowes's tighter line allowed the Yakhnich Yamaha rider to squeeze ahead of both as they rounded the final turn to start the last lap.
With nothing to choose between them though, the quadruple draft would see all four go line astern into the first corner, with Foret going from fourth to first, followed by Lowes, Sofuoglu and van der Mark as they rounded turn one.
With Sofuoglu losing time as he fended off van der Mark through the opening bends, attention instead turned to whether Lowes could get the better of Foret on the final lap. And so it proved, Lowes once again adopting a tighter line into turn ten to get back in front at the expense of the former champion.
It would prove the decisive moment of the race, Lowes holding on around the long final turn to pick up a hard fought and potentially critical fourth straight win, one that moves him 39 points clear at the top of the standings.
Foret held on to fend off Mahi Kawasaki team-mate Sofuoglu to second position to draw level with the Turk in the overall standings, with van der Mark left a somewhat cruel fourth after what was a stunning performance by the Dutch rookie.
Almost forgotten amidst the thrilling lead battle, Sheridan Morais picked up his and PTR Honda's best result of the season in fifth position, ahead of CBR600RR counterpart Jack Kennedy on the RivaMoto machine.
Behind them, Andrea Antonelli won the battle of the Italians ahead of Luca Scassa and Raffaele de Rosa, while Christian Iddon notched up his first-ever WSS top ten finish in tenth aboard the ParkinGO MV Agusta.
Lowes's team-mate Vladimir Leonov, Massimo Roccoli, Alex Baldolini, Lorenzo Zanetti and Luca Marconi picked up the remaining points' positions.