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Tom Sykes has launched himself back into the World Superbike Championship title fight after claiming a marvellous third victory of the season at Portimao, while Max Biaggi could only manage fourth and Marco Melandri retired.
A race of drama for all three title rivals, the first encounter of the day got underway in treacherously wet conditions with Eugene Laverty, Jonathan Rea and Carlos Checa establishing the early top three, ahead of Biaggi and Melandri.
However, it would take just a handful of corners for the first act to play out when Melandri came down whilst battling with key championship rival Biaggi, the pair making contact at turn 11 when Melandri attempted to get beneath the Aprilia rider on the exit of the bend.
Misjudging the size of the gap between the two, Melandri would lose the front-end of his bike to slide across the circuit into retirement.
Furthermore, Melandri's stricken bike would collect Davide Giugliano, while Chaz Davies bumped into 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.
Despite the contact with Melandri, Biaggi was able to stay upright, the accident serving to break up the pack to allow Laverty, Rea, Checa and Biaggi to establish a large margin over the likes of Sykes – at this stage showing average pace -, Sylvain Guintoli and Brett McCormick, the Canadian flying in the difficult conditions.
With the top four favouring caution on the slippery surface, Biaggi eased past Laverty into the lead at the start of lap seven, but the pass would prove futile as the red flag would be deployed due to oil being deposited on the circuit by Norino Brignola's crashing Grillini BMW.
A blow for Biaggi given he stood to greatly increase his margin over the retired Melandri and the struggling Sykes, he was nonetheless able to start from the front row for the shortened 16 lap restart.