For round ten of the 13-round 2017 World Superbike championship the series heads to Portimao in Portugal for the first time since 2015. With four rounds and a possible 200 points available, the championship is far from over.
The current champion Jonathan Rea continues to lead the way with a 70-point advantage over Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes. The numbers would suggest that the championship will be won by one of the Kawasaki pairing; factory Ducati rider Chaz Davies is a distant third, 35 points adrift of Sykes and 105 behind Rea.
Portimao is a circuit that Rea is very familiar with; he is the only rider currently on the grid who has started all 16 races at the Algarve circuit. In fact Rea’s first ever race in WSBK was at the circuit in 2008. Not surprisingly then, it is Rea who, with 230 points, is the highest scoring rider at the circuit. Next up is Sykes with 114.
Rea also has the highest number of podium finishes at Portomao, with 10 from 16 race starts. His nearest challenger for that particular accolade is Sylvain Guintoli, with five.
Over the eight years that WSBK races have been held at Portimao, Rea is one of only three riders to take double wins, the other two being Max Biaggi and Troy Bayliss. All three riders went on to win the championship after doing so.
If either Sykes or Rea win race one on Saturday, Kawasaki will become the first manufacturer to record three consecutive wins at the circuit. Rea knows that he doesn’t have to win every race to retain his title, and in doing so become the first rider to win three consecutive championships.
Highly unlikely it may be, but if team-mate Sykes were to win the remaining eight races Rea could finish in second place eight times and he would still win the championship by 40 points.
At the last round in Germany at the Lausitzring Rea rode intelligently to two second places behind double race winner Davies, safe in the knowledge that he was extending his lead over Sykes, who came home third and fourth in the two races. This weekend the pressure is definitely on the chasing pack - or, more precisely, Tom Sykes.
World Superbike Championship standings
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) 381 points
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 311
3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 276
4. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 218
5. Alex Lowes (Yamaha) 169
6. Xavi Forés (Ducati) 146
In the Supersport supporting series, the Lausitzring was the first race this season where Kenan Sofuoglu finished and didn’t win, ending his run of four straight victories. Importantly, Sofuoglu, who finished in second place, did finish ahead of his main rival, Licas Mahias, who came home third.
The race was won by Sheridan Morais, who became the fifth different winner this season. All those race winners bar Sofuoglu have won one race apiece.
With four rounds remaining Sofuoglu is the odds-on favourite to retain his championship.
World Supersport Championship standings
1. Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) 121 points
2. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 120
3. Sheridan Morais (Yamaha) 101
4. Jules Cluzel (Honda) 88
5. PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta) 68
6. Federico Caricasulo (Yamaha) 51
British Superbike Championship at Oulton Park
The MCE British Insurance Superbike championship enters the final phase of the 2017 season at Oulton Park this weekend with the first of the three showdown rounds, when the Cheshire circuit will kick off the closest ever top-six title race since the introduction of the showdown format.
The top six from the regular season have had their points tallies levelled at 500, with the podium credits earned added to this base figure. Leading the way is defending, and five times, champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne with 532 points. Six points adrift of Byrne is Leon Haslam, with Josh Brookes a further four points behind in third.
Jason O’Halloran, who occupies the final showdown place, is only 29 points behind Byrne. With seven races in total in the showdown (the season climax at Brands Hatch is a triple-header) there are 175 points available. The title really is there for the taking by any one of the six.
Realistically, however, I would think the current top three are the favourites. Byrne and Haslam have been battling at the head of the championship all season and Brookes seems to have found some form just in time for the showdown.
Last year's Oulton round was a triple-header, with Haslam taking victory in all three races. Byrne meanwhile had a poor meeting with a 5th a DNF and a 9th.
Haslam will be hoping for a similar set of results, especially as the last round of the series takes place at the spiritual home of Byrne - Brands Hatch, on the full GP circuit, where earlier this season Byrne did the double.
If the season continues as it has thus far, we could be set for an epic encounter in Kent come October.
British Superbike Championship standings
1. Shane Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati) 532 points
2. Leon Haslam (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) 526
3. Josh Brookes (Anvil Hire Tag Yamaha) 522
4. Jake Dixon (RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki) 518
5. Peter Hickman (Smiths Racing BMW) 509
6. Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) 503