Troy Bayliss started his swansong weekend perfectly as he swept to a dominant victory in an eventful first World Superbike race of the day in Portugal.
The new champion led from lights-to-flag aboard the Ducati Xerox but it was all-action further back as a myriad of riders gave an entertaining performance behind him.
With the rain that has blighted the event so far clearing up before the start of the race, sunny conditions greeted the riders for only the second time this weekend. It meant the teams headed into the race with minimal dry data, a factor that would make its presence felt in the latter stages of the race.
The start was a relatively even affair, with debutant front row sitters Cal Crutchlow and Jonathan Rea refusing to let the pressure get to them as they got away well. In fact, Crutchlow looked to have the better of pole sitter Bayliss as they braked downhill for the first turn, although the Aussie rider was more daring on the brakes and would emerge in front.
Baulked by his failed attempt at the lead, Rea, Ruben Xaus
and Troy Corser
squeezed through, with the latter eventually hauling the Yamaha up to second place from seventh on the grid.
Further back, Max Biaggi
and Michel Fabrizio
came to blows for not the first time in their careers after the factory Ducati rider appeared to mis-judge a move on his countryman, taking both riders down and leaving Biaggi visibly furious with the youngster.
The accident, however, had caused a chasm between the leaders and the followers, with the top five field of Bayliss, Corser, Rea, Crutchlow and Xaus already a few seconds up on the chasing pack of Leon Haslam, Carlos Checa
and Noriyuki Haga
as they ended the first lap.
Bayliss himself was making headway though as he worked to establish a gap, although his cause was certainly being aided by the frantic tussle going on behind him.
Rea was looking particularly aggressive as he forced his Ten Kate Honda up against his more experienced rivals, while Crutchlow was looking remarkably quick down the home straight as he got better drive out of the final corner.