Sykes hits problems in Portugal to benefit of Biaggi

Max Biaggi took a giant stride towards his second World Superbike Championship title after extending his lead in the riders’ standings to 30.5 points after yesterday’s two races at Portimao, Portgual.

The Italian finished fourth in race one and third in the second race of the day won by team-mate Eugene Laverty, but it was the misfortune of his two nearest rivals that really played into the hands of the Aprilia rider.

Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes won the opening race to close to within 14.5 points of Biaggi, but when the Briton suffered mechanical problems in race two, the Italian was able to pull away again.

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BMW’s Marco Melandri, Biaggi’s nearest challenger at the start of the day, just 9.5 points in arrears, is now effectively out of the title race after a heavy crash in race one left him in hospital with a suspected bruised kidney and unable to take the start of race two.

With just 50 points to play for at the final two races in France on October 7, Biaggi’s lead looks all but untouchable providing he can pick up a decent points haul at Magny-Cours.

Josh Brookes, meanwhile, claimed a two-point lead in the British Superbike Championship title showdown with a dramatic last-corner victory in yesterday’s second race at Assen in Holland.

The Tyco Suzuki rider claimed the narrow advantage in the standings over race one winner Shane Byrne.

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Having finished as runner-up to Byrne in race one, Brookes ensured the roles were reversed in race two as he bulldozed his way past his title rival in the final left-hander of the chicane and then won the dash to the line.

“It was a good feeling to win that one,” said Brookes.

“I got into the rhythm and was able to make the pass on Shakey but he came back on me and we were going at it for the win.

“I waited until the last corner before the chicane as that was my best chance, I made the apex clean and was delighted to get the win.”

In the first race Byrne overcame the discomfort of his shoulder injury to power his Kawasaki to a fifth victory of the season ahead of Brookes, with Alex Lowes a strong third for WFR Honda. Lowes also took third in the second race.

Brookes leads the six-rider showdown standings on 570 points, ahead of Byrne (568) and Hill (548). Lowes is in fourth on 534 points, ahead of Michael Laverty (532).

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