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van der Mark puts one hand on WSS crown

6 July 2014

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  • A fourth win of the season sees Michael van der Mark take a large leap towards the WSS title
  • Nearest rival Jules Cluzel fails to finish, leaving him 53 points adrift with four races to go
  • Jack Kennedy leads briefly before completing his maiden WSS podium result in second

Michael van der Mark has taken a defining step towards the 2014 World Supersport Championship title after claiming his fourth win of the season at Portimao, while closest rival Jules Cluzel failed to finish.

Another mature and composed performance by the PATA Honda rider, van der Mark recovered from a relatively low-key start to steadily work his way up the order, snatching the lead on lap seven before holding firm when rain prompted a race-ending red flag on lap 13.

His fourth win in eight races this year, the Dutchman already held a 28 point advantage coming into the event but that has now swelled to 53 points with just four races remaining after gremlins consigned Cluzel to an early exit.

From the off it was pole sitter Kenan Sofuoglu that got the hole-shot into turn one, the Turkish rider working hard to break his rivals only to be accompanied by a feisty Jack Kennedy on the CIA Insurance PTR Honda.

The Irishman's pressure yielded results at the start of lap five when he slipped past into the first turn, a lead he would maintain even when Sofuoglu's attempt to re-pass on the next lap at the same corner simply sent him out wide and down to third.

However, Sofuoglu's mistake would simply release van der Mark onto the tail of his fellow Honda rider, the youngster upping his momentum with an immediate fastest lap before scything through into the lead at turn one on lap seven.

van der Mark wouldn't be challenged thereafter, his ascension coinciding with Cluzel's plummet down the order, beginning with an off at turn one that dropped him to fifth before another error sent him all the way to 18th. Though he was making progress back into the points, the MV Agusta man would eventually retire just as the race was concluded early.

As such, van der Mark found himself in the right place just as rain began to fall, stewards opting to play it safe and throw a red flag with enough of the race having been completed to declare the result.

With Cluzel out, van der Mark now has two races in hand with just four remaining, ensuring he needs to finish just fourth in the remaining races to ensure he wins the title regardless of his rivals' efforts.

Behind him, Kennedy would benefit from the count-back, the Irishman still classified in second place despite being behind Sofuoglu when the red flag was dropped. The result means it is his first-ever WSS podium having made his debut in 2013.

Completing PTR Honda's strong day, Raffaele de Rosa was fourth. despite also losing a spot to PJ Jacobsen on the road, the American finishing fifth ahead of Lorenzo Zanetti and Kev Coghlan, while Roberto Rolfo and Massimo Roccoli completed the top ten positions.

Having started from the back of the grid after being punished for attempting to get a tow in qualifying, Ratthapark Wilairot fought his way up to 11th place, with Alessandro Nocco, Marco Bussolotti, Valentin Debise and Fabio Menghi rounded out the remaining points' positions.


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