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WorldSBK Finale At Qatar: The Battle For Third

Argentina showed again just how tight the battle for third in the WorldSBK title will be. The championship battle gets the attention but don't underestimate how much the scrap for third can be worth

Three riders, one prize. The fight for the bronze medal of the 2019 WorldSBK campaign will go down to the wire in Qatar. Alex Lowes, Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu are split by just six points, and while the Turk is the form man, don't rule anything out in the desert.

All three riders - a British Superbike champion, a WorldSSP champion and a WorldSBK race winner - are consumed by a need to be the best. They want to win. Fighting for third isn't where they want to be, but it has to be their target for 2019. The future will almost certainly hold title challenges but for now it's about doing the best possible and beating each other.

The WorldSBK grid is stacked. It's not enough to be doing a good job, you have to do a great job on every lap of every day to be able to fight at the front. These riders can be upset with a top five finish because they expect more from themselves. When you talk to engineers inside the paddock, however, they'll point to the consistency needed to be a leading rider. This is a world championship and the gap between it and other series can be huge. In WorldSBK to be at the front you have to maximise everything.

Teammate tussles

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Marc Marquez vs Jonathan Rea: Is Winning Enough?

Marc Márquez and Jonathan Rea have rewritten the history books in recent years. Their successes in MotoGP and WorldSBK have made them legends of their disciplines and while it’s highly unlikely we’ll see them line up on the same grid in the future they share more than their status as world champions.

Alex Ferguson famously said “some players have world class moments, others have world class careers.” The legendary soccer manager was talking about the difference between being a transcendent player and one that only ever flashes their potential. If you want to be a legend you have to do it every time you lace up your boots.

If you want to be a legend of motorcycle racing you have to be all-in at every opportunity. Any time that you’re on the bike is an opportunity to assert your dominance. Racing is the ultimate test of nerve. Can you dig deep enough into your soul to constantly get the most from yourself? Can you take the will out of your rivals?

New rivals

Márquez and Rea have both done this consistently but this year both faced their toughest tests. For Márquez it’s been the coming of a rookie sensation, Fabio Quartararo, and for Rea it’s been a MotoGP refugee, Alvaro Bautista. Both rookies came to the 2019 season with something to prove.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Super Subversions

Sometimes things are hard in WorldSBK.

The perennial difficulty, however, is defining, balancing and homologating exactly what a WorldSBK machine is. And consequentially, what the technical rules should be.

Now that every single WorldSBK machine is a 1000cc four-cylinder of some kind you would think that the old issues of balancing machines against one another would have been homogenised out of their long-lasting and controversial existence.

After all, Ducatis and eventually Hondas and Aprilias were all bigger on twin-cylinder engine displacement than their four and occasional three-cylinder competitors for almost every season in WorldSBK until this one.

And therefore, usually, they delivered better results. Look at the stats.

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Misano MotoGP Sunday Subscriber Notes - Marquez vs Quartararo, and A Lack Of Grip from The Stars

Subscriber notes

The outcome of the MotoGP race at Misano was decided some time ago. Several key decisions went into determining the result, most of them many weeks, or even many months ago. Those decisions set in motion a train of events that led inexorably to the domination of a single manufacturer at the Misano World Circuit on Sunday.

One of those decisions was to microblast the surface of the track to remove the build up of rubber from the track and improve the grip in the wet. The microblasting took place some three months ago, and on Saturday, Michelin boss Piero Taramasso explained what had been done. "They shot very small balls of metal with high speed into the asphalt. From one big stone, this treatment makes many smaller stones. So this treatment you reduce the macro roughness, and you increase the micro roughness."

"Normally this is the way to increase the grip. What happens is that as soon as you do the treatment, you increase the wet grip. In wet conditions the grip is better instantly. But for the dry, you have to wait more and more time for dry grip because this treatment cleans all the track. It makes it like a brand new track, no rubber, nothing on the floor. So that’s why the grip on dry is lower for the first five, six, or seven months. After that, after the track has been used a few times, sometimes it’s better."

No rubber

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