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Rea rounds out season with double podium in Portugal

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Jonathan Rea converted his pole position start into two hard-earned podium finishes in today’s final two races of the 2011 World Superbike championship season at Portimao in Portugal.
 
The 24-year-old Castrol Honda rider was in confident mood heading into today’s two 22-lap races around the undulating 4.592km Portimao circuit and duly took the lead into the first turn in both outings.
 
In race one, Rea opted for a medium compound tyre which did not allow him to put in faster laps earlier in the race. He was passed initially by Sylvain Guintoli and then Carlos Checa, who went on to take the race one win.
 
For the second race, Rea opted for a harder compound Pirelli and again took the lead but was passed by Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri, leaving Rea in third place as Melandri took the victory.
 
Karl Muggeridge, who replaced the injured Ruben Xaus for the final round at Portimao, continued to improve his feeling for the unfamiliar bike, tyres and circuit in today’s two races, eventually finishing in 18th and 17th places.
 
The Castrol Honda team would like to thank Karl for his hard work this weekend and Ruben for his own contribution to the 2011 season.
 
Rea’s two podiums today marked a strong end to a troublesome season in which he missed three months through injury. However, his Castrol Honda team continued development of the current CBR1000RR Fireblade, including particular elements that can be transferred to a new model which will be available for the 2012 season.
 
Jonathan Rea – 3rd and 3rd

I felt I rode race one just about as well as I could have, but Sylvain showed massive pace at the start before Carlos came by too, so well done to them for their results. It was nice to be able to challenge for victory in both races, although I think in race two it was pretty clear where we were losing out to the others. I felt I rode well and the bike was working great in some sectors, but not in others where we needed it to. This year’s been such a journey for me, with a lot of ups and downs, so it’s just great to go into the off season with no injuries and the bike on the podium here. I’d like to thank everyone who has made the journey with me this season and to the team and all its partners for their support. I can’t wait for 2012 to start now.
 
Karl Muggeridge – 18th and 17th

It’s been very tough for me this weekend. On Friday I was just trying to remember which way the track went and we had a couple of technical issues on the first two days which restricted our track time as well. In warm-up this morning I was still struggling to find some harmony out there so in the first race I just kind of sat there and did the laps. It paid off because I had a better feeling for the second race after we made some suspension changes so the bike worked a little better on grip and turning. We also adjusted the electronics slightly to soften the throttle response off a bit. It all helped and I was a lot more comfortable in race two – I was still too slow though. I also lacked a bit of confidence in the tyres but that’s only going to come with time. It was fun to be back working with the guys though, and to be in this paddock where I still have a lot of friends.
 
Ronald ten Kate – team-manager
 
After a roller coaster season, in which we’ve had some good highs but also hit rock bottom at times, we’ve managed to get to the last three rounds fighting for podiums and race wins. I want to give credit to all the riders who have been involved this season, especially those who have worked on the development of the bike in recent weeks, also to the staff who have done a tremendous job. It may be the most revolutionary comeback ever, so well done to everyone. The end of the season means a big winter testing programme, and our development work in areas other than electronics has already started and we intend to bring those parts to the track soon. So the work doesn’t stop and we’re planning a private test at Qatar in the next few weeks. We’re looking forward to 2012, to welcoming Hiroshi Aoyama to the team and to working with Jonathan for the fifth consecutive year.
 
2011 World Superbike championship, final round
 
Portimao, Portugal (4.592km), 22 laps - results, race one:
 
1 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati 38m13.293s
 
2 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati +2.860s
 
3 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Castrol Honda +8.481s
 
4 Max Biaggi (ITA) Aprilia +11.963s
 
5 Joan Lascorz (ESP) Kawasaki +13.333s
 
6 Marco Melandri (ITA) Yamaha +18.960s
 
18 Karl Muggeridge (AUS) Castrol Honda +1m06.213s
 
Race two:
 
1 Marco Melandri (ITA) Yamaha 38m11.326s
 
2 Eugene Laverty (IRL) Yamaha +1.075s
 
3 Jonathan Rea (GBR) Castrol Honda +1.363s
 
4 Carlos Checa (ESP) Ducati +2.648s
 
5 Sylvain Guintoli (FRA) Ducati +3.355s
 
6 Leon Camier (GBR) Aprilia +4.709s
 
17 Karl Muggeridge (AUS) Castrol Honda +57.941s
 
Final championship points:
 
1 Checa 505, 2 Melandri 395, 3 Biaggi 303, 4 Laverty 303, 5 Leon Haslam (GBR) BMW 224, 6 Guintoli 210, 7 Camier 208, 8 Noriyuki Haga (JPN) Aprilia 176, 9 Rea 170, 10 Ayrton Badovini (ITA) BMW 165.

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