Jonathan Rea on top in Portimao FP1 as WorldSBK powers up again

Jonathan Rea holds off Alvaro Bautista in a tightly-contested FP1 WorldSBK session at Portimao as the 2019 season kicks on again in Portugal

Jonathan Rea - Kawasaki Racing Team ZX-10RR

Portugal WorldSBK - Free Practice 1 - RESULTS

Jonathan Rea picked up from where he left off as the 2019 World Superbike Championship resumed with first free practice for round ten of the season at Portimao in Portugal.

With four rounds and 12 races remaining, Kawasaki Racing Team rider Rea heads into the final stretch with sights set firmly on a fifth consecutive WorldSBK title having opened up an 81-point lead over an ailing Alvaro Bautista.

Seven weeks after WorldSBK last raced in the US, the series is back on track in Portugal with Rea resuming his spot at the head of the timesheets on the Kawasaki ZX-10RR after FP1.

With Portimao used for in-season testing recently, the lap times at the top of the leaderboard was close though with only 0.3s covering the top six riders. Rea held off main rival Bautista by only 0.078s, the Spaniard repeatedly going quicker in sectors 1 and 2 – which prioritise top end power – before being pulled back by Rea’s more agile Kawasaki in sectors 3 and 4.

‘Unemployed’ riders show well in FP1

Pata Yamaha’s Alex Lowes was an encouraging third quickest as he looks to make an impression having lost his ride at Crescent Racing to Toprak Razgatlioglu – who was just behind him in fourth - for the 2020 WorldSBK season. 

Michael van der Mark and Leon Haslam rounded out the top six, with a three tenths gap back to seventh place Markus Reiterberger, another rider looking to shine this weekend after it was confirmed during the break he will be replaced by Eugene Laverty at BMW for 2020.

The German fared better than team-mate Tom Sykes, who crashed after folding the front-end of the BMW S1000RR at turn 14 late on to leave him 12th. Jordi Torres was another to fall early on from his Pedercini Kawasaki.

Elsewhere, Yamaha riders Loris Baz and Sandro Cortese were eighth and ninth fastest, while Michael Ruben Rinaldi rounded out the top ten ahead of Chaz Davies, a lowly 11th on the second of the factory Panigale V4Rs

Portimao WorldSBK Schedule

WorldSBK Acerbis Portuguese Round, Autódromo Internacional do Algarve Event Schedule (GMT +0)
Friday 6 September
9:00 - 9:30WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group A)
9:45 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP1 (Group B)
10:30 - 11:20WorldSBKFP1
11:30 - 12:15WorldSSPFP1
13:30 - 14:00WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group A)
14:15 - 14:45WorldSSP 300FP2 (Group B)
15:00 - 15:50WorldSBKFP2 
16:00 - 16:45WorldSSPFP2
Saturday 7 September
09:00 - 9:20WorldSBKFP3
09:30 - 09:50WorldSSPFP3
10:00 - 10:15WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group A)
10:25 - 10:40WorldSSP 300FP3 (Group B)
11:00 - 11:25WorldSBKSuperpole
11:40 - 12:05WorldSSPSuperpole
12:20 - 12:40WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group A)
12:50 - 13:10WorldSSP 300Superpole (Group B)
14:00WorldSBKRACE 1
15:15WorldSSP 300Last Chance Race
Sunday 8 September
09:00 - 09:15WorldSBKWarm-up
09:25 - 09:40WorldSSPWarm-up
09:50 - 10:05WorldSSP 300Warm-up
14:00WorldSBKRACE 2
15:15WorldSSP 300RACE