The last Superpole of the year opened under the floodlights, with second place in the championship to be decided between Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies.
Jionathan Rea was quickest by over eight tenths of a second, ahead of Marco Melandri and Alex Lowes, in this untimed session.
Niki Tuuli was quickest ahead of Gino rea and Kyle Smith with current World Champion, deemed fit to race today, fourth quickest, ahead of championship leader Lucas Mahias.
Jonathan Rea was quickest in the last session of the day, in spite of being unable to improve on his earlier time, joined at the top by Alex Lowes. Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies continued their fight for second place in the championship third and fourth quickest.
Lucas Mahias took charge in a session where almost everyone improved on their earlier lap times. Jules Cluzel was second-quickest while Luke Stapleford and Federico Caricasulo recorded identical laps six thousandths off Cluzel's time. Sofuoglu was seventh quickest again.
Jonathan Rea topped the session ahead of Tom Sykes and Chaz Davies, the latter pair dicing for second place in the championship this weekend.
Kyle Smith opened the weekend with the quickest time in the first evening session under the lights of Qatar. Lucas Mahias, second quickest, will have to wait until Saturday to fight for the title with Kenan Sofuoglu just half a second off the pace in seventh place.
The FIM today released the provisional 2018 WorldSBK version. Just as last year, the schedule contains thirteen rounds, spread out from February to late October. Two circuits visited in 2017 are out, Jerez and the Lausitzring, while Brno makes a return to the WorldSBK schedule, and a brand new circuit in the west of Argentina, near the border with Chile.
In many ways, the MotoGP season is structured like a Hollywood action blockbuster. There is preseason testing, the opening sequence in which we are introduced to the main cast of characters. After the opening credits, we start off by flying across continents to a range of exotic and colorful locations, where the first threads of plot are laid out, some of which will turn out to be red herrings later in the season. There then follows a regular sequence of dramatic action sequences, the narrative of the season taking dramatic twists and turns along the way.
If MotoGP is a Hollywood blockbuster, then the Pacific triple header of flyaway races is the frantic last 10 minutes, where the protagonists face off again and again leaving the audience barely a moment to catch their breath. It is where the battle for MotoGP reaches its crescendo, the drama of the season raised to another level and compressed into the briefest of windows. The flyaways are intense.
If the fans feel the triple header takes its toll on them, just imagine what it's like for the riders. Back-to-back races within Europe are usually manageable, as the riders are only a few hours away from their homes, and spend the weekends in their motorhomes, which are a home away from home. For the flyaways, the riders spend four weeks on the road, moving from hotel to hotel. They kick off the trip with a 15-hour flight to Japan, follow it up with an 11-hour flight from Japan to Melbourne, then another 9-hour flight to Malaysia.
Stefan Bradl is to miss the rest of the 2017 WorldSBK season. The Red Bull Honda rider's wrist injury, sustained in a crash at Portimao, is more serious than initially thought, and the recovery period required means he will not be fit for either the Jerez or Qatar rounds of WorldSBK.
The decision was taken after surgery on Bradl's right wrist. Pins were inserted and a torn scaphulonate ligament reattached, damage sustained in the crash. The surgeons who performed the operation have ordered Bradl to keep his wrist immobilized to allow the damage to heal. This effectively makes it impossible for him to ride for the rest of the season.