Press releases previewing the final round of WorldSBK at Losail, Qatar:
Records on the line: WorldSBK has it all still to fight for
The title might be decided but it’s not all over going into the final round
Full throttle and straight into Doha as the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship prepares for it’s final round of the 2018 season under the floodlights at Losail International Circuit. We might have already crowned our world champion, but there’s plenty more to play for in Qatar with Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) looking to break even more records, and the small matter of the runner-up to be decided. Preparing to battle in the desert around the 5.3km circuit, the floodlit track will guide our riders towards the end of what has been a sensational season.
For 2018 WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea it’s no ordinary weekend, and he is on a winning streak like no other. Taking his 10th win in a row last time out in Argentina, he is now looking to take the most wins in one season (17), which is a record that has stood since 1991. On top of this, he is hoping to beat his own record of 556 points scored in one season; on 16 wins and 520 points it all seems very possible for the 31 year old. Securing the win – and then the double – for the first time in Qatar last season, it’s hard to look past Rea and his ZX-10RR for the victory. With podium tally of seven out of the last eight, he’ll continue to be one to beat.
Gunning for the runner-up spot in the championship chase, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing- Ducati) will be preparing for his final race weekend with the Panigale R twin, ahead of the introduction of the V4 machine next season. A landmark event for Ducati, the British rider will want to pull out all the stops to end 2018 with a bang. Holding a 24 point lead over third position Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), Davies will be hoping to repeat his performance from 2016 in Doha as he dominated under the floodlights.
But one man who will be out to stop Davies is Michael van der Mark, as he is already on for securing his best ever finish in WorldSBK – his best being fourth overall in 2016. Currently sitting 24 points behind Davies, the runner-up spot is possible but it will be a big task for the Dutchman. Yet to stand on the podium at Losail in the WorldSBK class, he took a fourth position finish here last season as he equalled his best result over the line. But with a lights to flag win here in WorldSSP, he has the pace and experience to take him to the top. Determined to end his strong season on a high, he will hope it not just his birthday he is celebrating on Saturday.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) has a littered past here in Qatar, and will be hoping to end a mixed season on a positive note. A top four in 2017’s Race One is his strongest finish around the 5.3km circuit, and with some podium finishes this year he will be hoping to go one further with his Aprilia. A tough end to the weekend in Argentina saw him score no points in race two, but the pace of the Irishman is never far off the top. With experience in both WorldSBK and MotoGP™ under the floodlights of Losail International Circuit, Laverty won’t be giving up just yet.
Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team will be looking to see the back of another difficult season with the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 machines, but have made some progress along the way. For Leon Camier, his season has been hindered by injury and despite some strong summer testing, he has been unable to replicate the strong results he showed in Thailand. Argentina brought some more tough race day challenges for the Brit, and as he comes to a track he has a mixed record around, it will be a big weekend for himself and his team. Whilst Jake Gagne will look forward to returning to Qatar, making the most of visiting a track he is familiar with. Scoring points in both races last season – on only his third WorldSBK appearance – he will hope to end the season by showing everyone just what he can do on a motorbike.
Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) will be preparing for his first WorldSBK appearance around Losail International Circuit since 2014. Last time he was here he took a second position in both Superpole and Race One for Kawasaki, but with the BMW it will be a different story. Continuing to work to develop his S 1000 RR, the Frenchman will want to end his tough season on a high, and as he’s only six points off a top ten championship finish, he will be pushing all the way to the final lap.
Chilean Maximilan Scheib (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) will be ready for his second ever WorldSBK appearance, and his debut appearance in Qatar. With a solid opening performance in Argentina, with a 13th position finish in race one, the youngster will be hoping to put on another impressive performance as the series comes to a close.
Keep up with all the WorldSBK action from the closing round of the historical 2018 season. On track action begins at 16.20LT (+3 GMT) on Thursday 25th October ahead of lights out for Race One at 19.00 on Friday, and the season finale at 19.00 on Saturday.
Epic Finale Approaches For Rea And Sykes
The 13th and final round of the season will see recently-crowned 2018 champion Jonathan Rea and his team-mate Tom Sykes take part in the only WorldSBK weekend to be held under floodlights, at the ever-impressive Losail International circuit in Qatar, between the 25th and the 27th of October.
With the Riders’, Manufacturers’ and Teams’ awards now wrapped up at the previous round in Argentina both KRT riders aim to finish the season on a high.
Having already won 16 races on his way to his unprecedented fourth successive championship in 2018, Rea now needs just one more victory to equal the record for the most wins scored in a single season. Two more wins would put him out on his own, and set yet another new record.
Jonathan’s own personal ambition at this late stage of another successful season is to exceed the 556 points he scored in 2017. He is more than capable of doing that as things stand, as he has 520 points already and two more wins would take him to a total of 570.
Earlier this year Rea matched, and then exceeded, the record of all-time WorldSBK race wins. He now has 70 in all. At the previous round, at the brand-new circuit of San Juan Villicum in Argentina, Rea took his fifth successive double win; another feat no rider had managed before.
Tom will aim for two more race wins to add to his current career total of 34 - all for Kawasaki. Sykes is set to take part in his final race weekend inside the Kawasaki Racing Team structure, having been part of the official Kawasaki WorldSBK set-up since 2010.
In 2013 Tom became the first Kawasaki competitor since Scott Russell in 1993 to win the Riders’ World Championship and came incredibly close to securing it twice more, in 2012 and 2014.
Sykes has already won a race this season, at Assen, and has scored seven podium finishes through the year. He has secured an all-time record of 47 Superpole qualifying performances in WorldSBK and has the opportunity to add another this coming Friday.
With Rea the champion since the Magny Cours round Sykes sits fourth in the rankings after Argentina. Tom is looking to simultaneously overturn a 30-point disadvantage to the rider in overall third place, Michael van der Mark, and keep the eight-point advantage he enjoys over fifth placed rider Marco Melandri.
As well as being the only WorldSBK venue to feature floodlit races; the Losail International Circuit is the only one with races that take place on Fridays and Saturdays - rather than the more usual Saturdays and Sundays. Hence the Losail WorldSBK weekend, and the entire competitive season, will conclude after race two at Losail on Saturday the 27th of October,
On the final weekend of the year young talent Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is looking to repeat his podium performance from race one in Argentina, having taken his first ever podium at Donington Park earlier in the season. Razgatlioglu is eighth overall and wants to remain in that position at the end of the year.
Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki), Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) and Gabriele Ruiu (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) will also compete hard in Qatar for the final chance of points’ scores in the 2018 season.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “The last round is coming and I am very excited about it because it is one of my favourite circuits – favourite events, to be honest. The evening event features a more laid back approach from everyone. It is a round I look forward to taking my family to because during the day we get to spend a little bit of time beside the pool, before going out to do the job. Losail is a great track, very flowing and it should suit the nature of our bike. Argentina was an amazing weekend but also very tough because I got really sick and took a few days to get over that. I have been out on my KX450 motocross bike since then and I am feeling pretty good now. After an incredible season I want to try to finish it off on a real high and have a few weeks of downtime before we start winter testing. Before any of that, it is very important to do a great job in Qatar. Like the previous races we go there with the aim to try to win.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I love racing out there in Qatar. It is such a nice environment. I spend the day resting and then go and race around in circles under the floodlights. It is all right! It will certainly be an end of an era and it struck me that Losail would be my last race weekend with Kawasaki when we raced in France recently. We are certainly coming to the end of a very good era and we have had a good run together. We will see how it goes but hopefully I can get two strong results, not just for myself but also for the guys in Kawasaki. Riding under the floodlights felt weird the first year we did it but we have been doing to for so long now we are all used to it. The lights are so bright you still use a dark visor!”
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team in the spotlight in Qatar for the last round with the Panigale R
After taking two podiums in Argentina less than two weeks ago, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is ready to start the last round of the season at Losail (Qatar), the only track on the calendar that hosts races at night. In the past, the team has collected strong results at the circuit on the outskirts of Doha, with two wins – by Chaz Davies – and six collective podiums in just as many races in the past three years.
Davies heads into Round 13 with second position in the championship in his sight – he currently leads by 24 points in the standings – and, having finished either first or second in the past four races at Losail, he is keen to take advantage of the characteristics of the track to close the year as runner-up, a position achieved twice in the past three seasons. Melandri, who already collected four podiums after the summer break, is keen to extend his positive streak to finish the year on a high note. The Qatari round will also have a historical meaning as it will be the last race on the world stage with the Panigale R, the last model in a long and successful tradition of racing V-twins designed and developed by Ducati, ahead of the highly anticipated debut of the Panigale V4.
After 12 rounds, Davies (348 points) and Melandri (286 points) are respectively second and fifth in the championship. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action on Thursday, October 25th, at 16:20 local time (CET +1) for the first free-practice session.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7)
"Qatar has been good to us in recent years, we had a double win there in 2016 and a double second-place last year. There's still second position in the championship up for grabs, and to this end we have a healthy cushion going into the last round, so the plan is to just do our best and clinch it. Also, it will be a round of mixed emotions as we'll have our last dance with the V-twin. We had a lot of good memories with this bike, and we'll try to give the best possible performance to say goodbye to it, but it's also exciting as we're starting a new era with the V4."
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33)
"Losail is one of the most fun and spectacular tracks on the calendar. To race at night, moreover, makes it special even though the preparation for the race itself doesn't change. It's a flowing track, with smooth lines, so on paper it suits my riding style quite well. We've been working really well with the whole team lately and, after the double podium in Argentina, I expect us to be competitive also in Qatar. It's very important for us to finish the year on a high note."
Last stop Qatar for the Gulf Althea BMW team
Rome (Italy), Tuesday 23 October 2018
The Gulf Althea BMW team is ready for the final round of the 2018 Superbike world championship, taking place this weekend at the Losail International Circuit, approximately 40 km from Doha in the state of Qatar.
It has become customary for the Losail circuit to host the closing round of the championship, the Qatari event unique in that the races take place in the evening, under powerful floodlights. In addition, contrary to all other championship rounds, the Superbikes will race on Friday and Saturday rather than Sunday.
In 2014, the last time Baz competed on a Superbike at the Doha desert track, the Frenchman reached the podium, concluding race 1 in second place. After a series of highs and lows this season, the Gulf Althea BMW rider would like to close the year with two positive race results, as he attempts to improve his position in the general standings. Heading into this final event, Baz lies eleventh in the championship standings with a points tally of 127.
“I’m not sure how to feel as we head into the final round of the season. I like the Losail track, and think it can probably be good for us, so we’ll see whether we can get close to the top five. My target is to try to achieve a top ten placing in the general standings, with just a few points separating me from tenth place right now. We will do our best to round out the season the best we can anyway.”
Pata Yamaha Aiming High for Qatar Season Finale
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team head into the final round of the 2018 FIM World Superbike Championship in Qatar this weekend determined to end the season on a high under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Michael van der Mark, twice a race winner already this season, is aiming to add to his impressive podium tally in Qatar, as he targets second place in the final championship standings. Alex Lowes rates the Losail International Circuit as one of his favourites, having finished on the podium there in the final race last year, a feat he is keen to repeat this weekend in the 2018 season finale.
The 2018 season has been the most successful to date for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. Van der Mark took the team's first WorldSBK win aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 in Race 1 at Donington Park before going on to do the double in Race 2 the following day. The 25-year-old has been a regular frontrunner in the championship this season, racking up a total of 10 podium finishes in the 24 races contested so far.
Van der Mark lies third in the championship going into the final event of the season but with 50 points up for grabs in Qatar, the Pata Yamaha rider will be going all out this weekend to defend his position, while also looking to take second place from Chaz Davies, who leads him by just 24 points in the standings, should the opportunity present itself.
Lowes has also enjoyed significant success aboard the Yamaha YZF-R1 this season. The Pata Yamaha rider has four podium finishes to his name in 2018, including his first ever WorldSBK race win, which came during Race 2 in Brno back in June.
The 28-year-old has endured a difficult second half to the season, but is determined to bounce back and end his 2018 campaign on a high this weekend under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit, a track that suits both his riding style and the Yamaha YZF-R1 and where Lowes finished on the podium in the final race of last season.
The Losail International Circuit is located 30km north of Doha, the capital city of Qatar, and is unique in that it plays host to the only night race on the WorldSBK calendar. The 5.38km track is made up of ten right and six left-hand corners with a start finish straight that is over a kilometre in length. A mix of fast-flowing corners and slower technical sections, the circuit is a firm favourite with riders and fans, both of which enjoy the challenge and spectacle of racing under floodlights.
The Qatar race weekend follows a different schedule than most, with only the WorldSBK & WorldSSP classes involved and track action taking place in the early evening from Thursday to Saturday. The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team will take to the track for Free Practice 1 on Thursday afternoon at 16.20 local time, with qualifying scheduled for 16:30 on Friday. Race 1 on Friday and Race 2 on Saturday are both scheduled to get underway at 19.00.
Michael van der mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 3rd - 324 Points
"I can't believe that we're heading into the final race weekend of the season already. It seems to have gone so quickly, maybe because we've had so many good results this season. We will be doing everything we can this weekend to finish on a high and focus on ending the season top three in the championship standings. The last round in Argentina was tough, but we're expecting much better results this weekend in Qatar, at a track that seems to suit the characteristics of our YZF-R1 very well."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 6th - 232 Points
"I really enjoy racing in Qatar. It's a unique race; the only one of the season where we race at night and under floodlights. It's a fantastic event and one where I had some success last year, ending the season with a podium finish in the final race on a track that has always been a favourite of mine. We head there this time looking to fight for podium finishes once again and to repeat the success of 12 months ago, to finish our most successful season to date on a high."
Camier and Gagne Aim to End Season on a High
The floodlights of the Losail International Circuit await as the Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team prepare for the last round of the 2018 season.
After a mixed weekend in Argentina, Leon Camier and Jake Gagne are looking to end the season with a brace of strong results aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2 at a circuit each knows well.
After consistently challenging for the top ten and narrowly missing out on an inaugural trip to Superpole 2 in Argentina, Gagne arrives in Qatar in fine form. The American knows the circuit having raced there in 2017 with the team and is aiming to use what he has learned throughout 2018 to improve on his pair of 12th place finishes from his previous visit.
Meanwhile, Camier and the team are heading into the final weekend with a revised approach as they look to return to regularly fighting for the top ten.
Qatar not only offers an incredible scene to end the 2018 World Superbike Championship, but also the unique challenge of racing under the floodlights. Heavy rain in the area before the weekend will see track conditions change significantly as more and more rubber is put down around the 5.380km Losail Circuit. Eyes on the sky this weekend.
The final round of the WorldSBK for 2019 begins with Free Practice 1 at 1420 local time (GMT +3) on Thursday. Evening races and a unique schedule means Race 1 begins at 19:00 local time on Friday with Race 2 taking place at 19:00 on Saturday.
Leon Camier 2
We’re looking forward to the last race of the season and continuing to understand the bike and find the speed. The team have been working hard back at the workshop to try and find what has been going on. We have a slightly revised approach for the weekend, so we will have to see how that changes things. I'm looking forward to finishing the season on a high note.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
Crazy the year is already down to the end. Qatar is a great circuit and it will be nice coming back after being here last year. We’ve made some great strides these last few race weekends and everything is slowly coming together bit by bit. The team has worked so hard all year and I hope to finish strong with the best results!
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Qatar, the last one of the season and we want to finish it strong. We are coming off the best race from Jake in Argentina, I think he can do well here in Qatar again. He knows the track from last year with us and we hope he can get into Superpole 2 after being so close in Argentina. Jake just needs to make that final little step. On Leon’s side we are trying the new workflow from Magny Cours to help Leon find his momentum again. The aim is the top ten in both races.
Triple M Honda World Superbike Team withdraws from Qatar WorldSBK round
Losail International Circuit, Qatar
The Triple M Honda World Superbike Team will not participate in the WorldSBK season finale in Qatar this weekend due to an injury to rider Florian Marino.
Marino suffered fractures in his left leg following a crash in Race 2 at the previous round in Argentina, after a promising WorldSBK debut in Race 1 where he claimed eleventh place.
With Marino injured, the team has opted to withdraw from the Qatar round and will now switch its focus to preparing for the 2019 season.
Manufacturers profiles from Losail International Circuit
Enjoy stats of how WorldSBK bikes have fared at Losail in the past
Aprilia enjoyed a couple of great weekends here in 2014 and 2015. Winning all the races in those seasons, they are the only manufacturer with four straight wins in Losail. The best result for Aprilia here in 2016 was 10th from Savadori in Race 1, but last year they bounced back with a fourth and fifth with Laverty and Savadori in Race 1 and a seventh from Laverty in Race 2. Despite four wins, they have never qualified from pole at Losail: their best qualifying effort is a third with Biaggi in 2009. Last year Savadori came close to equalling that qualifying in third.
The best result for BMW at Losail came in 2016 from Jordi Torres, who was sixth in Race 2. Last year Torres came close to repeating it in Race 1, finishing seventh. But the Spaniard crashed badly in Race 2 and the only BMW at the flag was Raffaele De Rosa in 11th.
Ducati are third on the winners list at Losail, winning here three times. Bayliss opened the account in 2008’s Race 1, and Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) went on to secure the double in 2016. Last year the same Davies was the best Ducati rider, finishing second in both races behind Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and taking Ducati’s podium tally at Losail to 17, the track record (Kawasaki follows at 11). Only three manufacturers have recorded pole at Losail, and all have done so three times: Kawasaki, Yamaha and Ducati. The last pole for Ducati in Qatar was recorded by Davide Giugliano in 2014.
Honda have won here thanks to James Toseland, who took the win in both in Race 1, 2006 and in Race 2, 2007. Since then they have stood on the podium once, with Jonathan Rea in 2014’s Race 2. Last year only Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) made it to the finish line in Losail for Honda, in 12th on both occasions. Davide Giugliano didn’t finish in Race 1 and was out due to gastro-enteritis in Race 2. This is one of just three among the current circuits where Honda never started from pole: the others are Aragon and San Juan. In 2016 the late Nicky Hayden came close to securing the first pole for Honda here, qualifying in second.
Last year Jonathan Rea didn’t only fill a gap in his achievements, as he had never won before at Losail, but he also won the first races for Kawasaki at this circuit, coming away with a solid double. Kawasaki stood on the podium 11 times here and are second only to Ducati in this statistic. They are one of the three teams to have recorded pole here, with Yamaha and Ducati. In the last three years they have always recorded pole from qualifying at this track, equalling the record sequence at Losail which was set by Yamaha from 2007 to 2009. They are therefore in the position to become the first manufacturer with four straight poles here.
Yamaha recorded the double win from pole here in 2009, thanks to Ben Spies. Last year they were able to climb on the podium in Race 2 with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team), who finished just ahead of his team-mate Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team). They share the record of poles here with Ducati and Kawasaki, three. Last year Alex Lowes lined up in second in Race 1.
Last year MV Agusta recorded their best results at this track, with a double top nine finish with Leon Camier.
Cluzel vs Cortese: The runner-up vs the rookie
Start your engines for an electric title fight
One of the most highly anticipated battles of the year, the FIM Supersport World Championship is set to go down to the wire in Qatar, as the title fight comes down to just two riders: Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) and Jules Cluzel (NRT). Hosting the traditional season closer, Losail International Circuit is used to seeing some stunning battles on track, and is the perfect setting. With its fast corners and overtaking hotspots, the 5.6k circuit is set to set the world alight as six points stand between the duo and the crown.
Preparing to take on the Losail International Circuit for the first time on his YZF-R6 machine, Sandro Cortese has a vast amount of experience around the desert-ridden track and will be putting his all into getting the title. Racing around the track for the last 13 seasons with the 125cc World Championship, Moto3™ and Moto2™ series, the German will be searching for his fourth podium finish but most importantly his first win under the floodlights. Never finishing outside of the top six so far in 2018, Cortese has shown his secret is consistency, but can he take his first victory since Donington Park in May? All he needs is a top three finish and the crown is his… whatever happens.
Fully charged and ready for the battle, Jules Cluzel won’t be going down without a fight in Qatar, and showed his desire to take the win last time out in Argentina. Winning the race in dominant style, his emotions were clear from the moment he crossed the line, and the four time WorldSSP runner up has been calling on his fellow competitors to help him this weekend. Racing in the class for six seasons, he is the ‘nearly-man’ and will be putting everything into becoming the ‘winning man’. Taking pole here in 2014, the Frenchman is yet to win at Qatar, and will be pushing to do so this weekend. With seven podiums and five wins to his name this season, he will be ready to take the battle right to the final mm.
Elsewhere on the WorldSSP grid, GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP team-mates Lucas Mahias and Federico Caricasulo will be pushing to end their season on a high after a recent surge in results for the pair. Aiming for the team’s world title, the duo will be focusing on their own races and will be hoping to both cross the finish line after some bad luck in recent rounds.
But the season’s underdog Rafalle De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) has impressed all season with his consistent run of podium finishes. But this has dropped off in recent rounds, meaning the Italian will be looking to take home one more trophy to top off a strong season. With six podiums in a row, he has been unable to break the second position duck, but he has been the only man to challenge the Yamaha’s this season. Sitting in sixth in the championship standings, he will be pushing for that top five to end the season on a high.
Don’t miss out the battle for the world title, which concludes at 17.30LT (+3 GMT) on Saturday 27th October, for what will be a 15 lap thriller. Will it be Cortese or Cluzel?
GRT Yamaha Looking to Sign Off 2018 With a Win in Qatar
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team head to the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend, to contest the final round of the 2018 FIM World Supersport Championship. Lucas Mahias and Federico Caricasulo go into the final race determined to end the season on a high, with both riders targeting the top step of the podium on Saturday evening as they bid for a place in the top three of the final championship standings.
Mahias currently holds the advantage, with back-to-back podium finishes in France and Argentina securing him fourth place in the series standings going into this weekend's season finale. The Frenchman arrives in Qatar knowing that he needs to repeat the success of last year, when he won the race and was crowned as the 2017 World Supersport Champion, if he is to stand any chance of claiming third in the championship from Randy Krummenacher, who currently has a 15-point advantage over the GRT Yamaha rider.
The same is true of Caricasulo, who has slipped to fifth in the championship standings on 132 points after two difficult rounds in France and Argentina, where crashes in both races meant he secured just three points with a 13th place finish at Magny-Cours. The Italian was fourth in Qatar 12 months ago but knows that he needs to rediscover the form that saw him win back-to-back races in Misano and Portugal if he is to challenge Krummenacher and his GRT Yamaha teammate for a top three finish in the championship.
While Yamaha has already claimed the manufacturer's title for 2018 the team championship will be finally decided this weekend in Qatar. GRT Yamaha currently top the standings, but with only a 10 point advantage over their closest rivals two good results from Mahias and Caricasulo in the final race will be critical to the team's title aspirations.
The 5.38km Losail International Circuit is located 30km north of Doha in Qatar and plays host to the only night race on the WorldSSP calendar. Opened in 2004, this will be the ninth time the circuit has held a WorldSBK round and the track itself consists of 16 corners, ten right and six left-handed, plus a start/finish straight that is over a kilometre long. Providing a mix of fast-flowing corners and some technical slower sections, it has become a firm favourite with the riders and its layout always seems to provide an exciting spectacle under the floodlights for the fans.
The Qatar Round follows a different schedule than most, with just the WorldSBK & WorldSSP classes involved and the track action taking place in the evening from Thursday-Saturday. Therefore, the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team will take to the track for Free Practice 1 on Thursday afternoon at 17.15 local time, with Friday's qualifying starting at 17.30 and Saturday's race also scheduled to get underway at 17.30.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 135 Points
"This was a special race for me last year because I realised my dream; winning the race and being crowned as the World Champion. This year my situation is different but the aim is still the same, to win on Saturday evening. It will be tough, because Qatar has a straight even longer than the one in Argentina and that's where we lose time. But I like this track, I enjoy the fact that we race at night under floodlights and I'm ready to fight for the win to end the season on a high."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 5th - 132 Points
"The plan for this weekend is to be as fast and competitive as we've been throughout the season and then back that up with a strong performance in the race on Saturday evening. It won't be easy, because the long straight here doesn't really play to our strengths, but I'm confident that we can overcome this and be as competitive as always here in Qatar this weekend."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"Our aim remains the same this weekend as it has been for the last few races; we need to go out and try to win here in Qatar if we are to have any chance of one of the riders finishing top three in the championship. We also need to think about the team championship, which we're leading at the moment but which is very close in terms of points. We were happy to make a major contribution to Yamaha winning the manufacturer's title this season, but to add the team title would be good for us also and just reward for everyone in the team who has worked so hard this season. Both riders like this track; they are both focused on the win so already we're starting the weekend in a positive frame of mind. Hopefully we can finish the season here in Qatar with a win for the team and also for Yamaha, whose support has been so important for us this year."
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda ready for season finale in Qatar
Posted on 23rd October 2018
The Losail International Circuit in Doha is the venue for the final round of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship on Saturday. With a previous win on a Honda in 2015 and that stunning 2016 victory aboard the CIA Landlord Insurance Honda to inspire him, Kyle Smith is looking forward to a strong season finale.
Smith said:I’m really excited to go to Qatar as it’s the track where I have had my best results and I think this track suits the Honda so let’s see if we can finish the season off where we deserve to be.”
Teammate Peter Sebestyen is also keen to get to Qatar after another convincing points scoring finish last time out in Argentina and the young Hungarian has the top ten in his sights in the Arabian desert.
Sebestyen said: “I’m very excited about the last race. During the four race weekends that I’ve spent with the team I have learnt a lot and now in Qatar I would like to put everything together for my best result. I have been to Losail once two years ago with Superbike, I like the track and I know it fits for the Honda. Mainly I would like to work much better on the first day than in Argentina because it could be the key to the top results. With the bike setting we are on a very good path, I like the balance of it and how it works. Sure, we have to improve during the three days but I really trust in my team!”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Peter is going into this race on the back of another points scoring ride. He will be looking to go one better and to challenge for the top ten here. He’s got the capability, the package and the crew to do it so let’s see what we can do. Obviously the last time Kyle rode with us here he won, Jules Cluzel finished in second place by hundredths of a second for us last year so we are looking for a strong finish for Kyle. Realistically we need to be looking to challenge for the podium so we can finish the season on a high.”
World Supersport action kicks off at the Losail International Circuit with Free Practice One on Thursday at 17:15 (local time).
Final Round Push For Okubo And Barbera
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders Hikari Okubo and Hector Barbera will take on the unique challenge of racing under floodlights during the final weekend of the 2018 WorldSSP Championship, at the Losail International Circuit this coming weekend.
The overall Kawasaki Puccetti Racing effort has been on an upward trend recently, with both Hikari and Hector putting in their season-best performances at the most recent round in Argentina last time out. Hikari scored eighth place at the all-new San Juan Villicum circuit in Argentina, and recent signing Hector was ninth in only his third WorldSSP race.
In the overall championship Okubo is now 12th, the highest ranked he has been in 2018. Barbera also made progress in the table after his third points score in three races, as he now sits 18th.
Both Hector and Hikari have raced under the floodlights at Losail before, Hikari last year in WorldSSP and Hector on many occasions during his MotoGP career.
The race at Losail will be held on Saturday the 27th of October, rather than the more usual Sunday at the other rounds. Superpole qualifying will therefore be held on Friday the 26th of October, with the first track sessions starting one day before.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “The next round will be the last of the season and my aim is to end this year making my best ever result in Qatar. I think we have all what we need to make this possible. After Argentina I am getting back on the bike with more confidence. Our last race weekend wasn’t that bad. I qualified 16th and still ended the race in 8th position. I believe that if I will be able to get a better grid position, I will be able to battle at the front.”
Hector Barbera stated: “After the Argentinean Round I got closer to the front and I am really confident to be able to set up a better performance compared to the first three races with the team. I know this racetrack very well and I like it very much. Also, I think its layout suits the Kawasaki best. My limit now is in exiting the corners, but the circuit in Qatar has corners that are more favourable to our bike. During these past race weekends I prepared myself for this round and I believe this time we will be able to battle into the top five.”
Christian Stange and Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz from the Team GoEleven Kawasaki squad are back in the fray at Losail, as is Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki). Glenn van Straalen (EAB antwest Kawasaki) has been the most recent rider choice inside the team.
10 things you need to know before the Pirelli Qatar Round
Prepare for the season finale with our facts and stats
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) is only one win short of the all-time season record of wins, 17, set by Doug Polen in 1991. Rea already recorded 16 wins last season.
2. There is another record in sight for Rea: a seventh double in a single season would be unprecedented in WorldSBK history. So far, the value of six has been recorded four times in history: the first was Doug Polen in 1991, followed by Troy Bayliss in 2002, and then Rea achieved the feat in 2017 and now 2018.
3. Since the introduction of the new rules, which force the winner of Race 1 to start from ninth on the grid in Race 2, winning from ninth on the grid has become a frequent challenge for Jonathan Rea. At San Juan, Rea won his 12th race starting from ninth on the grid or lower. This feat is exactly double the record number of wins from outside the top eight, previously held by Noriyuki Haga, with six.
4. There is another record already in the bag for Rea: after the first race in Losail, his count of races at the top of the championship will be 100. His best competitor in this field is Troy Bayliss at 92.
5. There have been 12 different winners out of 18 races held in Qatar so far, no-one has won here more than twice. No less than six riders are tied for the record number of wins here (2): Troy Corser, James Toseland, Ben Spies, Sylvain Guintoli, Chaz Davies and Jonathan Rea.
6. Seven different riders have secured pole in qualifying in the history of the Qatar round. The only ones who have qualified on pole twice are Troy Corser (2007-2008) and Jonathan Rea (2016-2017).
7. The most successful manufacturer at Losail is Suzuki, with five wins. Aprilia is just behind at four, with Ducati next up at three.
8. In the last four visits to the Losail circuit, both wins were by a single manufacturer: Yamaha in 2009 (Spies); Aprilia in 2014 (Guintoli) and 2015 (Torres, Haslam); Ducati in 2016 (Davies); Kawasaki in 2017 (Rea).
9. Only three wins out of 18 came from the pole spot in Qatar: the double recorded by Ben Spies in 2009 and Race 1 last year (Rea).
10. Only three manufacturers recorded pole here and they did it three times each: Yamaha, Ducati and Kawasaki.
Entertainment set to light up Qatar
It’s not just action to enjoy out on track at Losail
With paddock access included with all tickets this weekend, the Pirelli Qatar Round is truly one for all and children under 11 have access for free, making it a full family affair. With the pressure off for the championship, there is still all to play for on track and so much to see off the track throughout the Pirelli Qatar Round.
With a welcoming Arabic tent in the paddock, fans will be able to chill out and relax throughout the day, in-between or before sessions out on track. Offering an opposite vibe compared to the sensational action out on track. Whilst you can enjoy many delicacies with the food court which is filled with an array of favourites, as you proudly wear your new merchandise which can be purchased from the tents. On top of this, children can enjoy an alternative look around the paddock with the pedal cars.
But the main attraction of the weekend will no doubt be the Paddock Show. Unique to WorldSBK, live commentary begins on stage from Thursday, with every session live on stage from FP1 at 16.20 LT right through to 21.25 LT for WorldSBK FP3. Friday brings even more action to the stage, with A Question of Bikes beginning at 15.25 before the new for 2019 WorldSBK Podium Show directly after Race One. See your heroes on stage straight after the Podium, getting their first reactions.
Action then begins to heat up on stage on Friday night with the SuperShow beginning at 20.45, as all riders will be present to give fans the full SBK® experience and meet all your heroes. Ending the weekend on Saturday, the on stage action starts from 16.30 right through to the extended time of 21.45. With interactive games, the two podium shows there is also another exciting addition. The World Champions prize giving show begins at 21.00, as fans, teams, riders and members of the paddock have the opportunity to congratulate our 2018 world champions on stage, followed by a cocktail. All three day tickets include a free invitation to the prize giving show, so everyone can be involved.
On top of this, the MOTUL Action Box will be open all weekend in pit garage 31 for fans to enjoy a different aspect of the racing from, getting right into the heart of pit lane. Or get another aspect of pit lane with the pit walk, on Friday at 15.30 or Saturday at 16.00.