Clouds loomed near a windy Algarve circuit as the riders prepared to start the first of their two 20 lap races. Rain wasn't forecast, but that's never stopped it before.
Tom Sykes broke away from the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies, but the best start was behind the front three as Jonathan Rea launched himself to fourth place from the third row, taking third off Giugliano after Davies passed his teammate and he took second place from Davies at the end of the first lap.
On the second lap, as Rea tried to close on Sykes, he made a small mistake and was set upon by Davies and Leon Haslam while Giugliano fell back, but Rea was able to keep his second place and work on the one second gap to his teammate.
It took just two laps for Rea to close the distance, sitting behind Sykes while Davies and Haslam duked it out for third a second behind. On lap seven, Rea hit the limit of his tyres and lost a few tenths, but Davies couldn't capitalise and Rea was able to get back up to Sykes within a lap.
At the end of lap nine, Jonathan Rea was well within reach of Tom Sykes's back tyre and pulled alongside on the start/finish straight, but Sykes was much stronger on the brakes into turn one and maintained his place. Chaz Davies was not as fortunate, with Leon Haslam finally making one of his attempts stick, powering past on the straight, in spite of the Ducati's improved speed this weekend, but Davies took third back after Haslam went wide later in the lap.
On the next lap, Rea passed Sykes into turn one, and built a gap on an error by Sykes on turn five, but in spite of all this, the Kawasakis were still within a second of each other, the gap never getting as large as it was at the beginning of lap three. Haslam and Davies hadn't given up their battle either, until Haslam over-braked one turn, running wide and giving Davies an unsurmountable three second advantage, ending their duel.
Then the flags came out.
White, with a red cross.
Lap fourteen, as if the wind weren't enough, the rain gingerly made an appearance. Rea at first seemed to test the warnings, building a gap on the uncertainty, but he slowed enough for Sykes to catch him toward the end of the lap.
Lap fifteen, the rain proper turned up. The pace dropped and the pits turned into a flurry of activity, preparing the wet tyres for the flag-to-flag rules. With only one bike per rider, you cannot swap bikes and you need to change the tyres, and you need to spend a minimum amount of time doing so, for safety.
Tom Sykes in second place, didn't pit in, fearing an over-congested pitman, and he took a lap in slicks while everyone else changed rubber. As Jonathan Rea took to the track, a full minute behind Sykes, it would be a long wait to see if the gamble paid off for Sykes.
Sykes pitted in at the end of his lap, four laps from the end, as Rea worked around the lap on the wet tyres, and as he crossed the line, Sykes exited the pits, slotting in a few seconds behind Rea at turn one, nothing lost in his gamble.
Sykes wasted no time passing his teammate a few turns later, and he held Rea off for a full lap, but on the eighteenth lap of twenty, Rea tried an outside pass on Sykes, switching back to the outside as Sykes took a defensive exit, and Rea led over the line only to be passed back by Sykes into turn one.
Chaz Davies almost six seconds behind had retained his third place in the tyre changes, and he had a clear gap to a resurgent Davide Giugliano behind him.
On the penultimate lap, Rea tried his outside turn twelve pass on Sykes, but Sykes's bike looked like the traction control failed on turn 13, spinning the rear a little and Sykes lost a lot of ground, slapping his tank angrily. As he crossed the line for the last lap, it was clear his bike had a problem; a problem Chaz Davies might capitalise on. It transpired that Sykes's bike would not rev higher than 9000rpm, adding to the wind and rain as another hurdle for Sykes to clear.
Rea eventually noticed he wasn't being challenged by his Kawasaki teammate and settled into a safer pace to take the win. Sykes did manage to nurse his failing bike round without losing second place to Chaz Davies who took another podium for Ducati.
Jonathan Rea honoured his Spanish team by wearing a Barcelona football jersey to celebrate their important victory the night before. He extended his lead at the top of the championship to 107 points ahead of Tom Sykes who took second place from Leon Haslam.
|1||65||J. REA||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'42.637||299,2|
|2||66||T. SYKES||Kawasaki ZX-10R||9.384||1'42.666||299,2|
|3||7||C. DAVIES||Ducati Panigale R||13.753||1'43.099||301,7|
|4||34||D. GIUGLIANO||Ducati Panigale R||27.818||1'43.629||298,3|
|5||1||S. GUINTOLI||Honda CBR1000RR SP||28.141||1'43.600||295,9|
|6||15||M. BAIOCCO||Ducati Panigale R||39.665||1'43.835||297,5|
|7||86||A. BADOVINI||BMW S1000 RR||40.829||1'43.793||293,5|
|8||36||L. MERCADO||Ducati Panigale R||43.401||1'43.731||295,9|
|9||60||M. VD MARK||Honda CBR1000RR SP||59.025||1'43.496||298,3|
|10||22||A. LOWES||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'01.388||1'43.731||291,9|
|11||81||J. TORRES||Aprilia RSV4 RF||1'02.769||1'43.368||293,5|
|12||91||L. HASLAM||Aprilia RSV4 RF||1'04.152||1'42.979||295,1|
|13||14||R. DE PUNIET||Suzuki GSX-R1000||1'39.537||1'44.785||290,3|
|14||44||D. SALOM||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'43.681||1'44.520||289,5|
|15||18||N. TEROL||Ducati Panigale R||1'45.940||1'45.448||290,3|
|16||40||R. RAMOS||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1'49.326||1'44.697||291,1|
|17||59||N. CANEPA||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1 Lap||1'45.467||286,5|
|18||23||C. PONSSON||Kawasaki ZX-10R||1 Lap||1'45.791||290,3|
|19||75||G. RIZMAYER||BMW S1000 RR||1 Lap||1'48.703||282,0|
|20||10||I. TOTH||BMW S1000 RR||5 Laps||1'51.159||276,9|