The two Americans in the World Superbike Championship ended the weekend on a high note in Portugal with GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team’s Garrett Gerloff fighting through from a poor start to finish ninth and Attack Performance Yamaha Racing’s Jake Gagne earning a championship point for finishing 15th in race two at Portimao.
The day didn’t start out well for Gerloff with the Texan crashing out of Sunday morning’s Superpole race in turn three. Gagne, meanwhile, was 16th and just .139 of a second behind 15th-placed Eugene Laverty. While scrapping for the final championship point, Gagne was able to improve his lap time from Saturday’s race one by a tick over a second.
Gerloff put himself on his back foot early in race two on Sunday afternoon when he completed the first of 20 laps in 16th place. From there he charged forward, ultimately coming out on top of a battle with Bonovo Action BMW’s Loris Baz to finish ninth – .309 of a second behind Team HRC’s Xavi Vierge. Gerloff ended race two as the top Independent Team finisher.
“I have mixed feelings today for sure,” Gerloff said. “We made really big improvements today with the bike. The bike was awesome and gave me a lot of confidence. In the Superpole race, I was moving forward and going fast and unfortunately I had a crash that caught me off guard and wasn’t able to finish in the top nine places which is where I was. For race two, I started from 12th which didn’t make it easy. On the first lap it’s brutal starting from that position and I ended up getting hit a couple of times and went backwards. I was able to move forward and finish in ninth and in the top 10. I was also the first independent rider so I’m happy for that, but frustrated in general because the pace today was for sure around the top five and I know that’s where we should be. There’s work to do.”
Gagne’s opening laps were better than his initial laps in race one with the two-time MotoAmerica Medallia Superbike Champion completing lap one in 20th. He moved to 17th on the fourth lap and to 15th on lap 13. From there he made inroads to Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team’s Roberto Tamburini before ultimately dropping back to finish 4.8 seconds behind the Italian and 2.5 seconds ahead of Laverty.
The race was won by championship leader Alvaro Bautista, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider beating race one and Superpole race winner Toprak Razgatlioglu by 2.2 seconds. Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK’s Jonathan Rea was another 2.5 seconds behind in third.
Bautista is now 56 points clear of Razgatlioglu in the championship and 82 ahead of Rea.
Gerloff sits 11th in the title chase, 10 points behind 10th-placed Vierge.