WSBK » 23 September 2012
Sykes back in title fight with Portimao win
Held on a drier circuit than before, but still too wet for the riders to choose anything other than grooved Pirelli tyres, Biaggi signalled his intentions early to move into the lead, but it was a position he could only hold until lap three when a revitalised Sykes came charging through.
Taking advantage of the red flag pause, Sykes's tweaked Kawasaki was thriving on this occasion as he scythed his way to the front of the field, the Briton quickly building a margin over the field.
Biaggi, meanwhile, was struggling to maintain the pace of his rivals, allowing both Sylvain Guintoli and Carlos Checa to come past into second and third positions too.
Now three seconds ahead of Guintoli and Checa, Sykes was looking well on course for his third win, but with the circuit continuing to dry, he found himself coming under late pressure from Checa, who was flourishing in the evolving conditions.
Indeed, the rate at which Checa was able to catch Sykes suggested he would swallow the Kawasaki rider up with just three laps remaining, but once on the tail of the ZX-10R, he couldn't find a way past.
Utilising his superior straight line speed, Sykes proceeded to keep his lines tidy through the twistier infield, before pulling out some breathing space down the long home straight.
It was all the advantage he needed, Sykes rebuffing Checa to reel off his third win of the season, one that catapults him back into the title hunt.
With Checa and Guintoli completing the podium on their respective Ducatis, attention turned to whether Biaggi could soften the blow by holding onto fourth position.
Indeed, Biaggi found himself in an unusual situation as he diced with little-known McCormick, the Canadian – starting only his sixth WSBK race - sustaining his early pace to deliver an inspired ride on the Effenbert Liberty Ducati.
Never anything less than a shadow for Biaggi, McCormick would have likely beaten Biaggi had he been able to resist the faster Aprilia in a straight line.
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