Press releases previewing this weekend's season finale at Qatar from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams and series organizer:
All set for the 2014 WSBK season finale in Qatar
Barcelona (Spain), Monday 27 October 2014 - The final round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Champion takes place this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar. For the first time in WSBK history, the event will be held under floodlights thanks to the impressive lighting system that powers the entire venue, allowing riders to race under conditions that are similar to daylight.
The Qatari circuit makes its return to the WSBK calendar after a four years absence to host the series for the sixth time. The previous round held on the shores of the Persian Gulf back in 2009 saw Ben Spies take a double victory (and pole position) in what was then the second racing weekend of the 2009 Championship. The American went on to overcome a 10 point deficit to Noriyuki Haga in the final round to take the title in great fashion.
A slightly bigger gap separates this year’s title contenders coming into the season finale as reigning Champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) leads the standings with a 12 point margin over Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team). Both riders have previously raced at Losail with Guintoli being the more experienced of the two at this track, having raced there five times before, including one race at night in 2008 in the MotoGP class where he was 15th at the flag.
Reigning champion Sykes raced on the 5.380km, technical and flowing circuit back in 2009, in what was his rookie World Superbike season. Moving off from the second row of the grid, he was 7th and 5th in the two encounters.
While the two title contenders will square off for the final battle, third place in the standings is also at stake. Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team), who has won four of the last six races, is aiming to keep up the momentum to finish the season on the highest possible note. He is trailed by Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike), who is 11 points behind Melandri in fourth and by Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), currently fifth and 19 points adrift of 3rd place.
Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) is the World Superbike rider with the most experience in racing under floodlights at Losail, having contested the night version of the Qatari Grand Prix from the first running in 2008 up to and including last year.
This will be the last chance of the 2014 season for both Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team) to take a first win aboard their 1199 Panigale R machines. The two riders, who share a total of six podiums this year, will do their best to make this happen before focusing on next season, which will see them racing together again in “Ducati red” colours.
Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes will contest their last event as team mates at Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, with the goal of returning onto the podium before the season draws to a close. With Lowes officially confirmed for another season with the English team, Laverty is looking to conclude his racing year the same way it started off for him with victory before switching series in 2015. Back in 2009 the Irishman took his maiden World Supersport win in Qatar.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse and Team Hero EBR will give their all for an encouraging result in the last event of the year, hoping to gain some positives after a challenging rookie season in the series.
David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) enters the season finale as the firm favourite to win the first ever EVO title given the 30 point advantage he has on Niccolò Canepa (Team Althea Racing Ducati). Many riders including Frenchmen Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) and Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki), as well as South African Sheridan Morais (Iron Brain Grillini Kawasaki) will hope to end their season on a high. Australian Alex Cudlin will replace the still injured Luca Scassa at Team Pedercini Kawasaki. The 28 year old from Sydney has vast experience of Losail, having been a regular in the Qatar Superbike Championship where he is a four time champion.
Standings (Round 11 of 12): 1. Sykes 378; 2. Guintoli 366; 3. Melandri 312; 4. Rea 301; 5. Baz 282; 6. Davies 195; 7. Haslam 176; 8. Giugliano 162; 9. Laverty 154; 10. Elias 151; 11. Lowes 126; 12. Salom 95; 13. Canepa 65; 14. Guarnoni 45; 15. Barrier 38; 16. Camier 37; 17. Corti 25; 18. Morais 24; 19. Andreozzi 21; 20. Foret 20; 21. Lanzi 19; 22. Neukirchner 17; 23. Scassa 16; 24. Staring 14; 25. Rizmayer 7; 26. Allerton 6; 27. Bos 5; 28. Toth 5; 29. Goi 5; 30. Russo 5; 31. Pegram 2; 32. Fabrizio 2; 33. Lanusse 1. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 418; 2. Kawasaki 395; 3. Honda 317; 4. Ducati 269; 5. Suzuki 220; 6. BMW 79; 7. MV Agusta 32; 8. EBR 2.
The FIM Supersport World Championship competitors will be back in action this weekend for their final outing of the year at the Losail International Circuit. With the title already secured by Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) at Jerez, the battle for the runner-up spot sees Frenchman Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) twelve points ahead of compatriot Florian Marino (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki).
Cluzel has good Qatari memories, having stepped onto the rostrum twice in his GP years, both times under floodlights: in 2009 he was second in the 250cc race (maiden Grand Prix podium finish), whilst the following year he finished the Moto2 encounter in third place.
After signing a deal to contest the 2015 season in WSS with Team San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki, three time World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu will line up once again as wildcard with the Italian squad, hoping to end his rollercoaster year with a strong result. At the Losail International Circuit, the 30 year old Turk scored the first of his 60 World Supersport podium finishes back in 2006.
This round will present a crucial opportunity for many riders to improve their chances of finding a competitive ride for next year and with the Qatari venue being new for the majority of the field we could see some new faces at the sharp end.
Newly crowned FIM Europe Superstock 600 Champion Marco Faccani will replace Alessandro Nocco to make his 2014 World Supersport debut with the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team.
Another rising star, Lucas Mahias, will hit the Qatari track this weekend joining regular riders Kev Coghlan and Alexey Ivanov in the DMC-Panavto Yamaha Team.
Raffaele De Rosa makes his return to Team Lorini Honda to race the CBR600RR alongside fellow Italian Luca Marconi, while Colombian rider Martin Cardenas will compete in his second consecutive race with the CIA Insurance Honda Team.
Standings (Round 10 of 11): 1. vd Mark 205; 2. Cluzel 132; 3. Marino 120; 4. Zanetti 103; 5. Coghlan 98; 6. Jacobsen 95; 7. Rolfo 87; 8. Sofuoglu 86; 9. De Rosa 67; 10. Tamburini 63; 11. Kennedy 56; 12. Wilairot 50; 13. Bussolotti 30; 14. Nocco 27; 15. Wahr 26; 16. Russo 25; 17. Gamarino 25; 18. Menghi 20; 19. Leonov 19; 20. Schmitter 14; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 226; 2. Kawasaki 171; 3. MV Agusta 146; 4. Yamaha 108; 5. Triumph 9.
Team Althea Racing – SBK Losail Preview
The end of the 2014 Eni FIM Superbike World Championship is upon us, and TEAM ALTHEA RACING prepares to take to the Losail International Circuit, in Doha, in the state of Qatar, where the racing will, for the very first time in Superbike history, take place at night. The Team comes from the latest French round, held at the Nevers–Magny Cours circuit, having scored two solid results: a second place in the EVO category in Race 1 (11th overall) and first position in Race 2 (tenth overall).
Niccolò Canepa has already raced at Losail in the past, in 2009 with the Pramac Racing MotoGP bike, closing the race in 17th place and then again in 2010, in Moto2 with Force GP219 where he finished 27th. After the positive results at the latest French round, and strong from their second position in the overall EVO standings, both the Team and Niccolò are very confident that they can conclude the 2014 season with their Ducati 1199 Panigale R on a high note.
Niccolò Canepa: “I’m excited about the idea of running the final round of the season in Qatar. As far as points are concerned, we’re a long way from the category leader but also a long way from the thirdplaced rider. So, with nothing to lose, I will try to give it my all to bring home two good results. Racing at night is really exciting and I really like the track even though the long straight will penalize us a little more than the others. I can’t wait to get back on my Ducati and give my fans a thrilling season finale.”
The Ducati Superbike Team gets set to close the 2014 Superbike World Championship this weekend in Qatar
Borgo Panigale (Italy), Monday 27 October 2014 - The Ducati Superbike Team prepares to travel to Qatar, and the Losail International Circuit, for the final round of the 2014 Superbike World Championship, taking place this coming weekend.
The Losail International Circuit, inaugurated in 2004 and located just outside the city of Doha, has hosted both MotoGP and Superbike events over the last decade. The last time the World Superbikes visited the Losail circuit was in 2009, when Ducati rider Noriyuki Haga scored a second place finish in both of the day’s races aboard his Ducati 1198. Current factory rider Chaz Davies last raced at the Qatari circuit in 2006 while competing in the 250 world championship, while his teammate Davide Giugliano took part in the 2007 Supersport round at Losail.
At the penultimate round of this year’s Superbike championship, held at the French Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours three weeks ago, races were conditioned by the wet weather. With many riders suffering crashes throughout race day, each of the Ducati Superbike riders was able to finish one of the races, with Giugliano crossing the line seventh in race 1 and Davies closing race 2 in ninth place.
As the Ducati Superbike Team heads into this final round of the 2014 championship, Davies and Giugliano lie in sixth and eighth position respectively in the rider’s classification. Ducati is in fourth position in the manufacturers’ standings. In a change to previous Superbike events in Qatar, this weekend’s action will take place late in the evening on a floodlit track.
Comments ahead of the event:
Chaz Davies – Ducati Superbike Team #7
“It’s been a few years since I last raced in Qatar. I remember it being a great track and a great facility but it’ll be quite different racing at night I imagine, it should be interesting. I’d like to close the season with the best possible results and so hope to be able to make two good races, despite the long straight that could penalize us. Anyway I’m looking forward to getting back on the track after this break and will do my best to conclude the 2014 championship with positive results.”
Davide Giugliano – Ducati Superbike Team #34
“It’s definitely a great track but I have only raced there once, in 2007, and so I don’t remember it in enormous detail. But it’s going to be a unique experience to race there at night, and I can’t wait to get back to work after the three week break. I head there, as usual, with the intention of giving it my all. The final part of the season hasn’t exactly gone as we expected it to and we haven’t been able to collect the kind of results that we’d hoped for. Having said that, we have been able to constantly improve our performance during practice and qualifying each weekend and so we have some solid experience to put into use this weekend – I hope these final two races can bring us some satisfaction.”
Eagerly Anticipated Championship Decider Coming Up
The final round of the 2014 FIM Superbike World Championship will take place at the Losail International Circuit in the state of Qatar this weekend, with KRT riders Tom Sykes, Loris Baz and KRT SBK Evo rider David Salom all primed and ready for a true finale at the 5.380km long track.
For the first time in the history of World Superbike the two 17-lap WSBK races will take place in the same kind of floodlit conditions that the GP classes have competed under for several seasons, offering even more spectacle for the fans in Qatar and at home watching on TV.
Tom Sykes, winner of the championship with Kawasaki last year, found weather conditions conspiring against him at the previous Magny Cours round but he still leads the championship as he has done since taking a home round double victory at Donington in May. Now with a 12-point advantage entering the Losail round Sykes Tom is eager to get back to winning ways at one of his favourite circuits.
Yorkshireman Sykes has scored eight race wins in 2014, hoisting his career tally to 22, and he aims to add to that total as he chases consecutive championship titles.
Loris Baz has yet to score a win in 2014 and his immediate aim is to return to top form to be able to be in a position to help in the overall championship chase for Kawasaki. Loris is fifth in the rankings, with 19 points to make up on the rider ahead, and two points scoring races in which to do it.
KRT SBK Evo class rider David Salom is the clear leader of the Evo category, which runs in parallel with the overall SBK contest. Now 30 points ahead, despite missing the previous round after hurting his previously injured right hand, Salom is feeling fit and intends to win the Evo title by winning both races in Losail.
Losail has not been used for WSBK racing since the 2009 season, but Sykes has raced there before, finishing seventh and fifth in Qatar during his rookie WSBK season.
As the Losail races will be held in the dark and relative cool of night time, the SBK races will start at 19.00 and 22.00 local time in Qatar, and are scheduled for 17 laps each.
Tom Sykes: “I am really looking forward to racing at Losail because it is a track I have competed at before and I was also here for the Ninja ZX-10R launch. I rode under the floodlights during the launch and it is a completely different experience - and one that I am really looking forward to again. The layout at Losail is fantastic as you can open up the full potential of a Superbike and you feel that there is a good element of safety, so I cannot wait to get going on Friday evening. It has come down to crunch time and there is a lot at stake at this meeting - but I am just looking to go out and doing what we normally do. There has been some input from the weather in the championship recently, which obviously made it closer than it perhaps would have been, but the long and short of it is that we are the ones with the advantage, so we need to make the most of that. I am in the very fortunate position that this is the third year on the bounce that we have been battling for the world championship so we just need to see what we can make of it on raceday.”
Loris Baz: “It will be my first time ever to race at Qatar this weekend and it looks like a good circuit. I am happy to finish the season at a track like that because I am sure I can have a good result, if I can get some good luck on my side a little bit. I have studied the track so much I feel like I have already been there, by watching previous the races that have taken place there and learning the layout. It is quite flat so I hope it will be relatively easy to learn. At least I know where the turns are so now I will have to learn the lines and everything else when I get there. From what I hear it is not really like riding at night under the floodlights; more like riding during the day. I think riding with all these lights will be a little bit different but it should not change the feelings of it that much. Since Laguna Seca we have been missing a bit of luck so I hope it is back on our side in Qatar.”
David Salom: “For me Losail is a very good track and I like it very much. I was lucky to race there in Supersport and I even raced there one year in the Superbike class. It will be very different this time because it will be a night race. I am not sure how that will be but I think the track will be very good for Kawasaki and me. It is a long track, and you have to move the bike around it very fast. I will go to Qatar to try and win both the Evo races. My injured hand is better than at any previous races and I do not have any real pain. I have been at physiotherapy every day recently and the recovery is going really well.”
Kawasaki WSS Riders Aiming For A Big Finish At Losail
Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team) and the usual strong entry of Ninja ZX-6R riders will be in highly motivated at the final round of the WSS championship this coming weekend in Qatar, looking for more podium success
Losail gave Kenan his first WSS podium in 2006 and he went on to win the 2007 WSS race there. A Kawasaki rider since 2012, Kenan is keen to score his and Kawasaki’s first WSS race win at Qatar, particularly as he feels that the current Ninja ZX-6R is an ideal machine to take on the fast curves of the expansive 5.380km Losail circuit.
Kenan, who now has three podium finishes this year Including his race win at Motorland Aragon early in the season, is the record holder in terms of race victories in the WSS class, with 27 in total – part of a remarkable tally of 60 podium places of all kinds. He is currently eighth overall in the points, after a season punctuated by bad luck that sometimes struck when Kenan was fighting for wins or podium places.
The season finale offers Frenchman Florian Marino (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) the chance to move up to second in the final championship rankings but he has to overhaul a 12-point deficit to his fellow countryman Jules Cluzel in Qatar. He has scored four podiums in 2014 so far but is looking for that elusive first win.
Marino is the highest placed Kawasaki rider in the championship, in third overall, and his team-mate Patrick ‘PJ’ Jacobsen (Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres) is sixth after securing two podiums in his rookie season in this class. Once more the Intermoto Ponyexpres team will expand to field young British rider Mason Law on a third bike, as they did at Magny Cours last time out.
Roberto Rolfo (Team Go Eleven Kawasaki) scored a highly creditable wet weather third place in the previous round in France and as a result moved up to seventh place overall, just a point and one place ahead of Sofuoglu. In all, four Kawasaki riders have now scored podium finishes of some kind in 2014.
Roberto Tamburini (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) rounds out the current top ten on his Ninja ZX-6R meaning that 50% of the top ten riders use Kawasaki power.
Recently crowned Superstock 600 FIM European Champion for Kawasaki, Marco Faccani (San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki), will ride alongside the experienced Tamburini at this round.
Christian Gamarino (Team Go Eleven) is currently ranked 17th but could jump up several places in the championship rankings if he can post some good points in Qatar, as he is currently only five points behind the rider in 13th place.
Kenan Sofuoglu: “I have had a good history in Qatar in Supersport so I will be happy to race there again. I have raced in a night race in Moto2 but I have never ridden my Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R at Losail. If I look at the character of the bike and the Qatar track layout I think this could be a good combination. Fast corners are very good for our bike. It would be nice to finish the season with a strong final race. I hope we can get the kind of result we deserve at the final round.”
Rea and Haslam head for World Superbike's floodlit finale
Pata Honda riders Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam are on their way to the Losail International Circuit in Qatar for this weekend’s (31 October – 2 November) final round of the 2014 World Superbike championship.
While the series title is out of reach for the Pata Honda team’s British duo, there is plenty to fight for in the last two races of a truncated championship season. Rea, 27, is still battling for a top three finish in the points standings and currently sits in fourth place, just 11 points behind Italian rider Marco Melandri with a maximum of 50 points up for grabs in Sunday’s two 17-lap races.
Haslam, meanwhile, will be keen to follow-up his welcome podium finish last time out on his Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP. To the delight of his team, the 31-year-old climbed the rostrum for the first time with the Netherlands-based squad in a wet second race at Magny-Cours in France a month ago.
This season’s climax at the 5.38km Losail International Circuit just outside the capital Doha marks a return to Qatar for the World Superbike championship for the first time since 2009. The circuit features six left-hand corners and 10 rights, plus a 1.068km-long start-finish straight. This weekend’s two races will also be the first World Superbike encounters to take place under floodlights.
I’m really looking forward to racing in Losail again for a variety of reasons. I’ve done a couple of new model launches there for Honda and I really like the circuit layout; it’ll also be the first time I’ve raced at night. I think the visibility will be quite high, especially compared to riding in the dark like I’ve done at Suzuka in the 8 Hours. But I think the biggest challenge is going to be the schedule and working out the best time for food intake and other things in order to perform physically late at night instead of during the day. It’s the last round of the championship but the plan is still quite straightforward. The CBR has been quite competitive at the last few rounds so we’ll try to get a good base setting again on Friday and aim to finish the season on a high in th is desert challenge.
It’s been another strange month off between the last two races of the season but it was fantastic to get on the podium at Magny-Cours and I’m really looking forward to riding at Qatar again. I’ve only raced there once, in 2009, but I’ve got quite a few laps under my belt. I helped on the launch of the 2008 Fireblade and then Jonathan and I were there for the introduction of the SP model last year. But it will certainly be different riding there under the lights, even though I’ve done a bit of racing in the dark at Suzuka. It seems much brighter, but I know the track can be a little sandy to start with. I’ve been told to look out for my own shadow overtaking me, but otherwise it’s a really exciting way to end the season.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
The bikes went straight to Qatar from Magny-Cours so we have not had an opportunity to work on them, but we’ll take some software updates for the electronics. I think our main aim for the weekend will be to retake third place in the championship for Jonathan, which is certainly possible. He and the bike have been strong in the last few races and it was unfortunate that he crashed out of a healthy lead in the last race in France. I hope we can continue a strong end to the season for Leon, too, because it was great to see him on the podium at Magny-Cours. I think he should be able to challenge for top five finishes because, despite the really long straight at the Losail circuit, the fast changes of direction on the other parts of the circuit should suit the CBR well.
JACK’S FINAL PODIUM CHANCE FOR 2014
CIA INSURANCE HONDA’S Jack Kennedy will have one final chance at scoring a podium when the 11th and last round of the 2014 World Supersport Championship takes place at the Losail circuit in Qatar this Sunday 2nd November.
Taking place under floodlights for the first time, it is going to be a new experience for most of the racers on the grid. Jack said: “Qatar under the floodlights is going to be an awesome way to finish the 2014 race season, I can’t wait. We have really good pace right now, so I’ll be looking to get on the podium again as a big thank you to my whole CIA Insurance team for a year that’s been getting better and better.”
Nacho Calero and Martin Cardenas will also experience Qatar under the floodlights for the first time this weekend. There are practice sessions on Friday and Saturday before qualification on Saturday evening. The race takes place at 2015 local time on Sunday 2nd November.
Simon Buckmaster, CIA Insurance Honda Team Manager: “The whole CIA Insurance Honda team is looking forward to this final round of 2014, being under the floodlights will add a real twist to the racing.
“Jack has the pace to challenge at the front and another podium is our shared goal. We have won here in the past and it would be a great way for all of us to sign off this year.
“Nacho is coming back to form slowly but has already proved he has points pace this season. It would be great if he could score again and that would lift the whole squad ahead of the winter break.
“Martin rode well at Magny Cours, especially after being punted off track on the first lap and having to come from way back. This will be a better race for him as he knows the bike and team better now. We are hoping for a points finish.”
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki desert-bound for season final
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki travels to the Qatar Peninsula this week for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship’s final round at the Losail International Circuit on 2nd November.
Looking to reverse the cruel luck of last month’s event at Magny-Cours, Eugene Laverty is hoping his final races, both on the Suzuki GSX-R and within the Superbike paddock, will prove fruitful and allow him to utilise the podium potential he believes is possible with his Yoshimura-powered machine. Laverty’s last visit to the Qatar circuit - as part of the 2009 World Supersport Championship - saw him take the top step, a feat he is eager to replicate in the top class this weekend.
No stranger to studying new tracks this season, Alex Lowes’ learning curve at Losail will be even steeper this weekend with the added element of WSBK’s first event under floodlights. Eagerly anticipating the challenge, last year’s British Champion is determined to finish his rookie World season on a high in preparation for his continuation with the GSX-R1000 for 2015.
A regular host of motorcycle racing since its creation in 2004, the Losail International Circuit - located just over 30kms from the Qatar capital of Doha - held the first MotoGP™ night race in 2008 but has not been seen on the WSBK calendar since 2009. The flowing 5,380m track layout accommodates 16 medium and high-speed corners - 10 of which right-handers - with the finish straight just over 1km in length. Held under artificial lights for the first time in the Championship’s history, the circuit will be illuminated by 1000 individual floodlights, housing 3600 bulbs and powered by 44 generators.
Voltcom Crescent Suzuki’s weekend timetable begins at 17:15hrs local time (14:15GMT) on Friday 31st October with the opening of three free practice sessions, the latter timed-for-qualifying practices scheduled for 20:00hrs (17:00GMT) and 23:15hrs (20:15GMT) respectively. Saturday’s action consists of the final non-timed free practice at 18:00hrs (15:00GMT) before Superpole sees the riders on track at 21:00hrs (18:00GMT). Sunday’s two races will be held at 19:00hrs (16:00GMT) and 22:00hrs (19:00GMT) respectively.
“The final round of the season will be an incredible experience racing under the floodlights. I've competed in the dark once already back in 2008 at Losail and I’m really looking forward to doing it again. The floodlights really illuminate the track so it actually allows you to be a little more precise than in daylight hours. The Losail circuit is a flowing one which suits our bike much better than some of the tight and twisty tracks that we’ve visited lately. It’s my last race in the World Superbike Championship before I make the switch to MotoGP and I’d love nothing more than to go out on a high - for me, the Crescent team and all our Sponsors.”
“I am really looking forward to Qatar and the new experience of a night race. We have had another month’s break between races and I feel fresh and happy in myself right now and very excited to ride my Suzuki GSX-R again! My aim is to finish the year with two solid results to kick start my 2015 preparations early. The track looks flowing, my brother Sam did well first time there in Moto2 so hopefully I can at least replicate that!”
Pata Honda World Supersport riders relish desert challenge
Michael van der Mark and his Pata Honda team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti are looking forward to the 11th and final round of the 2014 World Supersport championship which takes place at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend (31 October – 2 November).
Van der Mark, who turned 22 last Sunday, secured the 2014 title in round nine of the series at Jerez in Spain at the beginning of September. Such has been this season's form of the new World Supersport champion that, apart from sliding off in the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia, the Dutch ace has finished no lower than second in the nine races since, notching up five race wins along the way.
Zanetti, 27, has not quite been able to match his team-mate’s pace and consistency this season but he took a well-earned and popular victory of his own in his home race at Imola in May. The Italian is still in with a chance of securing third place in the championship standings but needs a maximum points haul in this final round.
This weekend's event marks a return of the World Supersport championship to the 5.38km Losail International Circuit for the first time since 2009, when the race victory was taken by Eugene Laverty on a Honda CBR600RR. However, this final race of the 2014 season will be the first time that a race the series has taken place under floodlights.
Michael van der Mark
I had a nice birthday with the family last weekend but now it’s back to work for the last race of the season. I’ve never been to Qatar before but I’m really excited about racing there this weekend. I like learning new circuits and it looks like a great track that should suit our bike. Also, riding at night is going to be a new experience that I’m really looking forward to. I understand that the sand in the desert can create some problems with grip, but it’s the same for everyone. This will also be my last race on the CBR600RR Supersport machine, so it might get a little emotional!
I raced under the lights in Qatar in 125cc GPs so I have some experience. I like the circuit very much but it will be quite different on the CBR600RR, compared to a 125cc two-stroke! I still have the target of finishing in the top three this season but I know it will be difficult. For this to happen I must win the race or at least finish second and hope that Marino cannot score many points. But I have a strong motivation for a good result this weekend: I want to finish the season in a strong way for Honda and my sponsors who have helped me so much and, also, it’s the last race for my crew chief Bjorn Maathuis. With Mikey’s championship and race wins, it’s been a great year for the whole team so we want to finish it on a high.
Pieter Breddels - technical co-ordinator
Mikey has nothing to worry about in Qatar – he is already champion and he’s going to World Superbikes next year – so he can ignore his rivals, do his job and battle for victory in his last World Supersport race. Hopefully, both riders can both be on the podium this weekend, which is certainly something that Lorenzo deserves. He has had a tough season so it would be really great to get him back up there.
HEATED FINALE FOR THE 2014 WORLD SUPERBIKE SEASON.
APRILIA READY TO DEFEND ITS LEADERSHIP IN THE MANUFACTURER CHAMPIONSHIP, SYLVIAN GIUNTOLI IN THE HUNT FOR THE RIDER TITLE.
BOTH TITLES STILL UP FOR GRABS IN THE FINAL ROUND AT LOSAIL IN QATAR.
Qatar, 29 October 2014 - The Superbike season which is coming to an end could be the inspiration for an excellent screenplay: great entertainment, continuous upsets and a wide open grand finale which is the stuff of a great action film.
The key players will most certainly include Aprilia and Sylvain Guintoli, respectively the Manufacturer Championship leader and the second place contender in the rider competition. At Losail, a track that is back on the calendar after a four year absence, the races will be held at night with the aid of a sophisticated artificial lighting system. Another "theatrical stroke" worthy of the best Hollywood director.
While Aprilia is leading the Brand World Championship with a 23 point advantage, spoils that must be defended in Qatar, a 12 point gap stands between Sylvain and his first Rider World Championship. The Aprilia Frenchman has made a sensational comeback to close a 44 point gap since the Laguna Seca round. Guintoli has a good record on the Losail track and for his assault he will be able to count on an RSV4 which has demonstrated brilliant performance in the last four rounds, taking as many "one-two" wins with two riders consistently on the top two steps of the podium.
Sylvain Guintoli: “Last visit to Qatar I won the race ("8h of Doha") and the Team I raced for was World Champion (Endurance), back in 2010. I love the track and it will suit the RSV4 like a glove. I am very excited about this weekend and very focused on our target. I have worked very hard for this and since Laguna we have closed the gap from 44 to 12 points. Sykes is defending well but we are now very close”.
Marco Melandri, who has shown great progress, has great expectations for the Losail race. Coming off of 4 wins in the last six races, the rider from Ravenna is now lying third in the rider standings with a wide margin from the nearest contender. Marco also has an excellent change of finishing the season with honours.
Marco Melandri: “I'm very happy to race at night in Qatar. I really like both this place and this track and I'm sure that my RSV4 will adapt very well. I really want to continue my position streak and help Aprilia take the Manufacturer World Championship”.