The first World Superbike Championship race at Portimao has been temporarily halted at six laps after oil was deposited on the circuit, though the stoppage comes too late for title contender Marco Melandri after he fell on the opening revolution.

Starting in tricky wet conditions following an earlier downpour, Melandri was battling it out with championship rival Max Biaggi as the riders tentatively negotiated the opening bends.

When Biaggi squeezed through at turn 11, Melandri attempted to respond by diving back up the inside of his rival on the exit. However, the BMW rider misjudged the size of the gap, losing the front-end of his bike and sliding across the circuit.

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Despite some contact, Biaggi stayed upright, though Melandri's stricken bike would collect Davide Giugliano, while Chaz Davies bumped Melandri himself as he attempted to stop in time.

Though he was able to get himself off the track, Melandri has since been taken to the medical centre for further checks.

Unfortunately for Davies, he would also crash, even if he was very lucky not to be collected by the chasing field as it streamed through.

With the accident allowing the top four a large margin over the remainder of the field, Eugene Laverty proceeded to lead from Jonathan Rea, Biaggi and Carlos Checa.

Biaggi had just moved into the lead when the red flag were deployed due to oil deposited by Norino Brignola's crashing Grillini BMW.

The race will restart at 12.55GMT, with count-back stating a new front row of Laverty, Biaggi, Rea and Checa.