Jonathan Rea (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) finished the 2009 World Superbike championship as top Honda rider, in overall fifth place, partly thanks to second and third place finishes today in Portimao.
Rea, fourth in Superpole and therefore starting from the front row, was not quite able to get into contention with pole man and early leader Ben Spies in race one, but finished only 1.697 seconds down at the flag.
In race two Rea was leading near the end of the race, after an aggressive and controlled ride, but dropped from first to third on the final lap.
Again he was less than two seconds from the winner, this time Michel Fabrizio. Jonathan ended the season with 315 points in total, narrowly missing fourth place by just four points.
The championship itself was decided in the very last round, with Ben Spies taking a win and a fifth place, and with it the overall title in his rookie year, by only six points from Noriyuki Haga.
Leon Haslam (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR1000RR) saw his first race end in a crash after he had also fallen in warm-up and needed several stitches in a right elbow injury. He had qualified fifth but fell when he accidentally changed gear in a corner. In race two he had to retire, scoring two DNFs for the day, but holding onto his overall sixth place, and 241 points.
Race one delivered Carlos Checa (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) nine points for his seventh place finish, having started the race from only 12th place on the grid. In the second 22-lap contest he had to retire on lap eight. Seventh overall is his final reward.
Matthieu Lagrive (Honda Althea CBR1000RR) posted ninth in race one and 13th in race two, and despite doing only a handful of races he took 19th place in the final rankings.
Ryuichi Kiyonari (Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR) could not overcome the effects of his recently broken collarbone and despite riding on Friday he withdrew before final qualifying. He ends the season 11th overall.
LAVERTY WINS THE RACE BUT NARROWLY LOSES THE TITLE FIGHT
Eugene Laverty (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) had an almost immaculate Supersport race weekend at his team’s home circuit of Portimao, winning the 20-lap race, securing pole position, and finishing the season only seven points from the championship win.
Some 19 points behind new champion Cal Crutchlow entering the 14th and final round of the season, championship rookie Laverty rode his heart out to win by 3.443 seconds from 2007 World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR). With Crutchlow riding to a safe fourth, Laverty had to settle for second in the championship battle.
Laverty’s fourth win of the year contributed to Honda winning the Manufacturers’ Title, by 13 points after 14 rounds.
Sofuoglu was a clear and clean second in this race, having qualified fourth and therefore starting from the front row. The winner at this race last year, he ran hard through the entire 20-laps, but he was unable to touch the real race pace of Laverty in what were hot and dry race conditions. Sofuoglu finished his year third overall, after new lap record holder Joan Lascorz retired with a technical problem.
Andrew Pitt (Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR600RR) moved up to sixth in the championship, after finishing today’s race 11th. He had qualified 11th, but could not get his machine to turn the way he wanted to in race conditions.
A ninth place in qualifying was translated into fifth in the race by Mark Aitchison (Althea Honda CBR600RR) and he ends the year ninth overall.
For Portuguese rider Miguel Praia (Parkalgar Honda CBR600RR) his home round placed him tenth, not the result he looked for but also another strong points score for his team after a bad start to today’s race. He was 15th overall.
Flavio Gentile (Althea Honda CBR600RR) finished in 19th place and out of the points today.
Anthony West (Stiggy Racing Honda CBR600RR) was unable to ride at Portimao and finished the year seventh overall.
SBK Rider Comments
Jonathan Rea: “This is my best weekend so far in the season, and I have to thank the team for all the help this year to get me to this point. In the second race I had real good fun with Michel Fabrizio but I had my own championship battle to worry about against Biaggi. I pushed really hard and wanted to win that race badly to finish off the season on a high note, but congratulations to Michel, he rode a great race. I am already thinking about coming back next year and I’m really looking to it.”
Leon Haslam: “In race one we had a few issues with the setup using a too hard front tyre. I ended up crashing because I was touching the shifter, which was too bad as it would have been an easy top five finish otherwise. In race two we got the settings loads better and I just got past Spies and was in a big group of riders, up to the
front-runners. This was not the best of weekends but it has been a fantastic year so we just have to forget about today with the injuries and the crashes.”
Carlos Checa: “Race one was very frustrating because we suffered from the same problems we had during qualifying yesterday. In race two, we improved the bike a little, going a little bit softer in the rear and changing the tyre. It definitely made things better because while everyone else’s pace was slower than in the first
race, I was able to improve my lap times. I was just passing Kagayama when I had a problem with the bike and the race was finished.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari: “You can imagine that I am very disappointed to miss out on this final race of the season. I am especially sorry for my team, who have worked so hard this season. I would also like to apologise to Honda and the sponsors of the team. I wanted to race but, after I spoke with doctors and the team, we decided that it was not possible.”
Matthieu Lagrive: “I’m not so happy with my today results and I’m just a little disappointed because of my two bad starts. In both races I suffered the same problems we endured during the full weekend and the feeling with my bike was not so good. In race one I was able to overtake a lot of riders despite some grip lacking on my rear
tyre. In race two in middle of the race I fought in a group of riders and I worked hard to make some passes.”
WSS Rider Comments
Eugene Laverty: “Pole position and a win but Lascorz took the lap record from me, which wasn’t very considerate of him! But that was a perfect race other wise. Right from the beginning I got a gap over Kenan and was able to maintain that. I was looking at his pit board too and he had six seconds over the rider behind and I thought he would let up, but he never did. I was able to ride within myself and take the win, and the test we did last week really helped us. I didn’t think when I came into the championship would could compete for the title, but I ended up only a few
points from the championship win.”
Kenan Sofuoglu: “My first goal this weekend was to stay in third place in the championship and that was safe when Lascorz stopped. But he stopped right in front of me and I lost the connection with Eugene, even though I managed to catch him a bit near the end, but it was too late. It’s been a tough season but my goal will be to come back strong next year. The bike is ready to win the championship again and that’s what we will be working for.”
Andrew Pitt: “We changed the bike setting for the race but went the wrong way and ended up fighting a front-end problem we’ve had all weekend, and a lot of the season – the bike just not turning. I’d like to thank the crew for all the efforts they’ve made all year to turn things around, but I guess it just hasn’t been our year. I would also like to pay tribute to Kenan, who has been a great guy to have as a team-mate.”
Miguel Praia: “Not the result I wanted at my home round but my start did not go well, I lost a couple of places and it is hard to overtake here. I would overtake riders and then go wide again, so I passed and was re-passed. We got another top ten finish but the competition was very strong today.”
Mark Aitchison: “Today the race for me was not so bad and at the end the result was quite good, but in the beginning I suffered some problems with the gearbox. I hit a false neutral on two occasions and unfortunately I lost a lot of time because of that. In general I’m happy with my racing season and I want to thank all the team for their hard work and also to my sponsor for their assistance.”
Flavio Gentile: “Starting from twenty-third place on the grid was always going to be difficult. I cannot say that I am happy with the result, but I have to be satisfied after the troubles we have had this weekend. Portimao was a new circuit for me to learn and we found it difficult to obtain a good setting for the bike.”