2017 Portimao WorldSBK Race 1 Notes: The Missing Man

Race 1 in Portimao may have produced a lights-to-flag victory for Jonathan Rea but Saturday also produced plenty of drama.

Rea's teammate, Tom Sykes, has been forced to sit out the weekend after fracturing a finger in a nasty crash during FP3. The 2013 WorldSBK champion highsided over the top of Jones' Leap and was thrown from his Kawasaki, leaving him battered and bruised from the crash. Having been given some strong pain medication it was ruled that Sykes would be unfit for the rest of the weekend. The Englishman was in low spirits after the incident but should be back in full fitness in the near future.

His teammate was certainly in high spirits after the race when he assessed his performance.

"This weekend in general has been really positive,” said the victor. “We've not changed the bike a lot since the test because the bike has been working really well. I have been working on myself and what I can change on the bike. We got a really good start and we made the best of the tire, once the gap was at five seconds we aimed to pull the gap and it seemed we had extra even at the end. Riding the bike is a pleasure and I want to thank my team for the amazing package."

While Rea will walk away with 25 points from the race his chief rival, Chaz Davies, was able to recover from a Superpole crash to fight from ninth on the grid to second at the flag. It was a superb fightback from the Welshman but after the race he made clear that there was still work to be done for tomorrow's race where he will once again come from the third row of the grid.

"It was a definitely a recovery and that was what we had to hope for today,” said Davies. “Rea's pace has been unbeatable all weekend, and it was all I could to get into the podium fight. To be honest I didn't expect to get there quite as quickly. I am happy with the result but not how the bike felt, we need to address why I couldn't extract 100% out of myself and see what we can do tomorrow."

Behind Davies and Rea a battle royale shaped up in the closing laps with Marco Melandri and Leon Camier fighting it out for third. Camier was chasing MV Agusta's first ever WorldSBK podium and ultimately came up just short of the rostrum. It was a valiant effort that will be rewarded with pole position for Race 2.

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Having enjoyed WorldSBK for the last few years I think it is necessary to emphasise that it is now, IMHO, in diabolical trouble in terms of the quality of the racing. It is basically Rea or Davies and the rest are irrelevant. Yes, Sykes occasionally breaks the pattern and might still finish second on occasion, or overall, but it is not what anyone watches. Yesterday there seemed to be a good contest with riders between 10th and 14th, but other than that it seemed a lot like Formula 1, and that ain't good.

My view is that the only way forward is a hybrid of Superbike and Superstock, with the bikes being essentially what can be bought by the consumer, plus, maybe, racing tyres. This would reduce manufacturer costs and might increase rider and manufacturer engagement. It might be a viable position relative to Motogp too. It might anchor this series in something real, other than a brand too lazy to factory up to MotoGp, and a brand which simply wants to compete everywhere, but can only afford so much effort across multiple championships.



totally agree. I love what WSB was, and I love the idea of what it could be, but I feel absolutely no love for what it is right now.

It is basically MotoGP with a slightly different set of rules.  The bikes bear only a silhouette resemblance to the road bikes they are theoretically based on but practically they are so far removed as to be irrelevant.  The bikes need to be much closer to the road going models, standard fuel tanks rather than this underseat malarkey, more standard engine internals, only basic electronics as a safety rather than performance aid, such that we can see a fair representation of the base bike and rider talent, rather than which Corporation has decided to spend the GDP of a small country.


The first live motorcycle race I ever attended was at Phillip Island in the 90's.  It had everything: great personalities (Foggy, Corser, Edwards, etc) and great racing.  It was a better show than the 500 GP.

For the past many years, I don't even watch the WSB racing on TV. The dominance of Rea doesn't help but it's more than that and I don't how to define the reason.  It's just not interesting any more.

I read somewhere that Suzuki is talking Rea to about riding their MotoGP bike.  

Now, that would be good for both the shows. But it still wouldn't fix WSB's problems.



I first started really watching the bikes around the same time and wsbk was indeed a far superior show to MotoGP back then, and continued to be that way for maybe the next 10 to 15 years. But now I struggle to retain any real interest. I watched race 2 yesterday in about 2 or 3 minutes, fast forwarding through to the utterly predictable result.

it is lacking something though. Characters probably. It's a bit like Alice Cooper recently said about his role in rocknroll, everyone was too nice and every good pantomime needs a villain, someone to love or hate.

its also a bit naff for the title to be done and dusted so early in the season. Maybe Dorna will find a way to spice it up over the next couple of years. Hope so.