Press releases from the teams and organizers after the final round of WorldSBK in Qatar:
WorldSBK race two cancelled in Qatar
Track conditions curtail competition in final round of the season
Following a severe rain and sand storm on Saturday morning in Qatar, it has been announced that WorldSBK race two has been cancelled at Losail International Circuit. With the storm hitting the Losail track in the morning, conditions deteriorated and therefore a difficult decision was taken to cancel the final race of the day.
Unfortunately, this signals an early end to the 2018 season, and Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) will end the season with 545 points and 17 victories. Whilst Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) takes second position in the championship, 23 points ahead of Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team).
Race direction statement: “Following the World Supersport race, the safety commission (FIM, Dorna WSBK Organization and SBK® riders) met. Due to an increase of standing water, as well taking into account the difference between power and tyres of WorldSBK and WorldSSP bikes, this led us to decide racing would not be safe in these conditions.”
#QatarWorldSBK– Day 2: Rea inches closer to points record with fantastic Race 1 win
2018 champion triumphs over teammate Tom Sykes in penultimate race of 2018
Rea dominates for the 11th race in a row
Seventeen down, one to go. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) has won the first race of the Pirelli Qatar Round and matched Doug Polen’s record for the most race victories in a single season, with 17 additional laps still to go tomorrow at the Losail International Circuit. He also moves to within just 12 points of the highest points tally in one WorldSBK season. The 2018 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion was absolutely untouchable out on the Qatari circuit, getting the holeshot at the lights and never relinquishing the race lead. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) completed a KRT one-two, with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) getting the better of Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) for third position after a race-long battle.
A dream start for the Northern Irishman pushed him into first place before even arriving to turn 1, while Laverty and Lowes jostled behind to see who could follow the Kawasaki bikes. The Aprilia’s incredible top speed on the kilometre-long straight was Laverty’s best weapon all throughout the race, using the slipstream to move into third after lap one.
With Rea managing a comfortable two-second gap over his teammate and both riders a step above the rest in terms of consistency, all eyes were set on the Yamaha and Aprilia battle behind. Lowes moved ahead in lap 6 but was again beaten on the front straight three laps later. It all came down to an epic last lap battle where they rubbed shoulders all the way through, including a brave final pass from the Englishman at turn 12. Laverty tried to return the favour on the final turn but nearly lost the front end, handing Lowes the final podium position. There is a silver lining for the Aprilia rider however: he starts from P1 on tomorrow’s grid.
Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) followed the front quartet with a confident race all the way to the final lap, but late issues pushed him down to thirteenth to the benefit of Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). The Italian takes fifth position and will start his last race for the Borgo Panigale squad from the front row of the grid.
The last two laps at Losail saw one of the wildest battles of the season, as Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) raced side-by-side for that final front row spot. The Frenchman was triumphant in this war, taking sixth position with the Yamaha in seventh, while Davies nearly lost eighth position on the final straight to Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), ninth.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) closed the top ten, with Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) in a disappointing eleventh after starting from the second row.
The final race of the 2018 WorldSBK season is upon us! Tune in tomorrow at 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT) to find out who can claim the last win of the season,
P1 - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“It was a really fun race especially in the beginning as I was able to feel really good with the ZX-10RR. In the last five laps I started running into some problems with my front tyre and it was a case of nursing it home, so there’s definitely work to do for tomorrow to finish in the same position. I’m so happy to have 17 wins in a season and so fortunate to be in this situation with the Kawasaki Racing Team, and the bond I have with the team and the bike – it’s incredible. Thanks to everybody who has come out to watch tonight, it’s probably the biggest crowd we’ve had here, so thank you.”
P2 - Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
“Yeah, it’s not bad but it would’ve been better for a win! I enjoyed the race but got caught up at the beginning, but overall enjoyed it from start to finish and had a big smile. I came under some pressure from behind and I was just trying to maintain the gap to Jonathan, and then towards the end of the race he was just managing the front tyre a little bit better than me, and was able to get it in and out of the corner a little bit more effectively, whereas I was relying more on corner speed so we need to look at that for tomorrow. But, second position is not too bad and we know how fast Jonathan is here and it would be nice to try and go one better tomorrow. I think it’ll be a different race from the third row, but we’ll give it the berries and try to make the last one count; it’s so nice to be here under the floodlights, I really enjoy this event so we’ll try again then.”
P3 - .Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)
“To be honest I enjoyed the whole race, I was pushing quite hard and I think Eugene had some problems with the front tyre, which gave me a small door to try and get through on the last lap. I really enjoyed battling with him and fair play to him, hopefully tomorrow we can try to improve the rear grip a bit and get onto the podium. It’s great to be back here after a difficult middle part of the year.”
Final Qatar WorldSBK Race Cancelled
The 2018 WorldSBK championship ended in highly unusual fashion tonight after a partially wet track surface caused the second race of the series finale in Losail to be cancelled, preventing Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes from going for one last win or podium place.
After a vicious sandstorm and then a remarkably long and violent thunderstorm all around the Losail International Circuit earlier today, the start of track action was delayed more than once, to allow for additional track cleaning.
Warm-up sessions for the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes subsequently took place, and then a shortened WorldSSP race got underway. At the end of that contest Race Direction cancelled the second WorldSBK race, as some parts of the circuit - especially in some key braking areas and the apex of Turn 15 - were deemed just too wet.
Despite not having a final race to compete in for a last win that would have given him a stand alone record of most wins in a season, Rea’s victory on Friday evening made it 17 wins this year, equalling the existing record set by Doug Polen.
Rea won his unique fourth consecutive WorldSBK title with five races to go this season, and has scored the greatest number of career wins in the class at 71. His Friday win at Losail was his 56th for Kawasaki; the most any rider has scored for one manufacturer. Rea was unable to shoot for his own highest points tally of 556 points, which he set last year, but he reached an impressive total of 545 points in 25 races in 2018.
Sykes signed off his long WorldSBK relationship with Kawasaki with a second place finish on Friday, before the surprise of no final race today. Tom won the 2013 title with KRT, missed out on two more by incredibly small margins and has ridden on official Kawasaki WorldSBK machinery of some kind since 2010. He has scored 34 career wins, all with KRT, and is the all-time record holder for Superpole wins, with 48.
Tom will undertake a new adventure in 2019 and in appreciation for his efforts inside the KRT squad the team had special T-shirts made to commemorate his achievements on Ninja machinery, and also created a special video of Tom’s career highlights. The team watched this in the pit garage as a group before packing up the pitbox at the conclusion of another successful season. Tom finished this championship season in fourth place overall, missing out on his final chance to take third place once the second Losail race was cancelled.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) ended his rookie season in ninth place overall, having finished tenth in race one on Friday at Losail. He scored two memorable podiums, one in the UK and the second more recently in Argentina. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 15th overall this year, Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 16th and recent signing for the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki squad, Gabriele Ruiu, 25th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was a difficult situation today. From one side it is frustrating not be able to finish the season when you are geared up to race but on the other side conditions are really difficult out there, especially at Turn 15. It did not seem like it was draining at all and every time they tried to clean the track, water was coming up from the gravel bed. It was frustrating for the fans also, because they are not getting a Superbike race tonight. But safety is paramount. We can look back at our season and be really proud of our efforts. Because this race was cancelled today we also finished our season with a race win from yesterday.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “It was weird not to race today. I feel robbed! I wanted to have one last dance with my bike and just enjoy it, really. I felt we had a very strong race set-up this weekend. I just felt something good coming today and wanted to give it one last go. I have been in the top three in the world championship for six years, so this is the first time in seven years I finished outside of it. On another note, our speed was still unquestionable; we still have that. Yesterday we brought it home not too far behind Jonathan, who is a four-time world champion. Thanks to everybody in Kawasaki and the team for all their efforts over the past years.”
Kawasaki 1-2 In Losail Opening Race
KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes finished first and second in the opening race under the floodlights at Losail, with Rea equalling the existing record of 17 wins in a single season with his 11th consecutive victory. Sykes also extended his own all-time WorldSBK Superpole winning total to 48 today, in his final WorldSBK weekend with KRT.
With Sykes on pole and Rea alongside him the start of the race Rea took the holeshot into turn one and from then on ran at his own pace to ensure his latest win in what has been a remarkable fourth straight championship season.
Despite using up some of his front tyre life in his push to the front today Rea was able to keep his pace and composure to the end to record his 56th race victory for Kawasaki - a record for a single rider with a single manufacturer in WorldSBK. Eleven race wins in succession also moved Rea’s recent record of ten consecutive races on by one.
Sykes was on strong form from the start at Losail this weekend and extended his career Superpole record with a 1’56.124 lap in SP2 that just edged our Rea by 0.131 seconds.
In the race Tom was able to keep a clear space back to two battling riders and he finished just 1.424 seconds from Rea. Sykes was over 1.2 seconds from eventual third placed rider Alex Lowes, as he managed his pace to ensure he would finish second for a Kawasaki 1-2.
Race two will take place on Saturday the 29th of October 2018, again under the floodlights at 19.00 local time.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) proved to be the top independent rider in race one, finishing tenth, while Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 12th. Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) placed 14th for two championship points, while rookie rider Gabriele Ruiu (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) scored a point for 15th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “There is a lot of hard work done to arrive in this position. It is really difficult; to build the package, the team atmosphere and a feeling with the bike. This weekend I have not quite felt myself on the bike and I said to my guys yesterday evening that this game is so much about confidence. We have been lucky this year in that I have had such a great feeling with the bike and that we have had that little bit extra. That gives you confidence and you are able to ride in a certain way. That is how it is done; that confidence the bike gives me, working with the team. Every time we are struggling, or my confidence is down, my crew chief Pere Riba finds a way to re-invent that, and turn things around. I am really grateful for that. People can find a good team and a good bike, and a good team can find a good rider, but trying to put all the elements together is really difficult. But I certainly have that with the Kawasaki Racing Team.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I think overall we made a good race. Yesterday in the long run there was myself and another rider who destroyed the front tyre, so today I think it all went to plan. This morning in FP4 we used a set of tyres from yesterday, the pace was there, improving all the time. Then the qualifying tyre went into the bike for Superpole and instantly when that tyre goes in I go to my more natural riding style, and everything becomes easier. That was nice to win Superpole. In the first, probably eight, laps I felt like we could have pushed on a little bit harder in some of the fast right corners but I just kind of knocked it back a fraction - which I think proved a good idea. I saw the gap closing behind me a fraction at one stage so I pushed to finish second.”
Race 2 cancelled in Qatar: Chaz Davies seizes second place in the 2018 WorldSBK Championship with the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team
Race 2 of the last round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship at Losail (Qatar) was cancelled due to bad weather, which resulted in heavy albeit unusual thunderstorms all across the surrounding desert. Track conditions, with a mostly dry tarmac but a few corners crossed by streams of water, prompted Race Direction to cancel the race in accord with the riders. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team thus claimed second place in the Riders Championship with Chaz Davies, who took two wins and 12 podiums overall this season for a total of 356 points. Marco Melandri finished the season in fifth position with two wins and ten podiums, with 297 points to his tally.
The Qatari round also marked the last race of the Panigale R, which in WorldSBK has collected 107 podiums overall and 28 wins in six years. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action at Aragon (Spain) on November 14-15 for Chaz Davies' first test with the Panigale V4 and it will continue the development program in full swing with also Alvaro Bautista at Jerez (Spain) on November 26-27.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7)
"Safety must come first, even though it's a bit anticlimactic and I'm sorry for the fans here at the track and at home, but to cancel the race was the right decision today. We sealed P2 in the championship, I'm very happy about that, and most of all I'm really excited about a new challenge with the V4. I can't wait to ride it in a couple of weeks!"
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33)
"It's always a pity when a race is cancelled, but common sense prevailed. Unfortunately, despite a similar issue with MotoGP in the past, the draining system probably hasn't been upgraded properly, but one must also consider it rained really heavily today. It's a shame because I didn't want to finish my career like this, but to ride in these conditions wouldn't have made sense."
Marco Zambenedetti, Technical Coordinator on track for Ducati Corse
"We didn't expect this kind of ending, but safety is the priority, and rightly so. Today marks the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for Ducati. We're ready to restart and excited for a new challenge with the Panigale V4."
Melandri 5th and Davies 8th in Race 1 in Qatar with the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team
After a day of free-practice, the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team took it back to the track today at Losail (Qatar) for Race 1. Due to a difficult Superpole, Melandri and Davies started from ninth and twelfth position respectively, determined to make a strong comeback during the race. Both riders enjoyed a strong start and progressively recovered positions to fight for the top five for most of the race. Melandri eventually finished in fifth place, while Davies was misled along with other riders by a wrong message on the display over the finish line – an unfortunate circumstance, even though in these cases it's the checkered flag that declares a race over – concluding the race in eighth position but managing to preserve a 23-point lead in the chase for second position in the Riders championship.
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team will resume action on Saturday, October 27th, at 15:30 local time (CET +1) for one warm-up session ahead of Race 2, which is scheduled to start at 19:00.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) – 5th
"Going into this round, I wasn't expecting the kind of race we had today, and unfortunately it was tough for all Ducati riders. We couldn't really do what we wanted with the bike, we were struggling to stop and turn it, and we also had some issues with traction. Due to that, I had to ride more aggressively and the tires dropped down a lot. Tomorrow we'll start from first row, which is better, but we still need to improve the setup with the rear to put up a challenge. Warm-up will be important to this end. We'd like to finish strong."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) – 8th
"We started a bit behind after a tough qualifying and then we began to make our way back. I eventually caught up with Marco and Xavi, closing up on them in the middle part of the race, but then I started to feel the front tucking with five laps to go and it got progressively worse. Our priority is to finish second in the championship so I just tried to hold position. Once Baz passed me, I saw 'final lap' on the display on the finish line, even though it was shown too early by accident, so I closed the throttle once I was over the line in the following lap. I lost a point and a position on the grid for tomorrow, which is a bit disappointing, but we also need to improve to finish stronger in our last race of the year."
Serafino Foti, Team Manager
"It's been a complicated race since we weren't able to find the best possible setup to allow both our riders to express themselves at the top of their capabilities. At any rate, we collected important data, which we'll now analyze to try to improve our performance in Race 2 tomorrow and finish the year in the best possible way."
WorldSBK Race 2 in Qatar Cancelled Due to Adverse Track Conditions
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's 2018 FIM World Superbike Championship campaign came to a premature conclusion in Qatar this evening, when WorldSBK Race 2 was cancelled on safety grounds shortly before the scheduled start. The news brought the curtain down on the team's most successful WorldSBK season to date, during which Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes racked up three race wins and a total of 14 podium finishes between them.
Van der Mark and Lowes were met by high winds, a sandstorm and then torrential rain as they arrived at the Losail International Circuit for the final race day of the 2018 season. The adverse weather saw a delay to the race program, with the WorldSBK riders taking to the track for 15 minutes of warm-up more than 90 minutes later than scheduled.
Following the session concerns were raised by the riders about the track conditions, which resulted in a further delay to the program as circuit staff worked to disperse the water running across the track in several areas.
Following the WorldSSP race, which was shortened from 15 to 12 laps, the safety commission made the decision to cancel WorldSBK Race 2, due to standing water on the track and after taking into account the differences in power and tyres of WorldSBK and WorldSSP machines.
The cancellation of the final race of the 2018 season meant van der Mark missed the chance, albeit an outside one, to challenge for second place in the championship standings, but the Pata Yamaha rider was happy to finish third, which exceeded the expectations he had at the start of the year.
For Lowes, whose speed and consistency in Qatar was impressive throughout the weekend, the cancellation of Race 2 meant he lost the opportunity to add another podium finish to the one he secured yesterday in Race 1 when he took a hard fought third place. The Pata Yamaha rider ended the season sixth in the championship standings with 248 points.
While Qatar marks the end of the 2018 FIM World Superbike season the work doesn't stop for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. The team head to Spain next month, where van der Mark and Lowes will commence their build up to the 2019 season.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - Championship Position – 3rd – 333 Points
"It was absolutely the right decision to cancel Race 2 today. Our championship was already decided and the track conditions weren't getting any better, especially turn 15 where there was a lot of standing water. It's a shame to end the season in the pit box, but safety must come first. We set some goals at the start of the year, to fight for podiums, to fight for a win and to finish top five in the championship. We've done all of that and more and I'm really happy to have ended the season third in the championship. The team can be proud of their achievements this year, because we've improved a lot and had both riders winning races and finishing on the podium. Now we need to continue to work, looking for further improvements so that we come back even stronger in 2019."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - Championship Position – 6th – 248 Points
"After the podium finish yesterday I was a bit disappointed to miss out on the opportunity of fighting for another today, but safety must always come first. There has certainly been highpoints for me this season. In WorldSBK I got my first race win and first pole position this year and winning for a third consecutive time at Suzuka was also pretty special. However, there is some frustration as well, because at times I felt like I wasn't able to ride how I wanted to. But we started and finished the season strongly and we know exactly where we need to improve. I'm looking forward to getting down to winter testing, working to up my game and returning even stronger next year. Well done to Michael on finishing in the top three in the championship and congratulations to the team."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK - Team Principal
"A really unfortunate and strange end to the season, but the only logical decision. As a team, despite the disappointment of the race being cancelled, we fully support the decision of the safety commission. Overall we have to say it's been a good year for Pata Yamaha and Yamaha's WorldSBK project. The target at the start of the season was continued improvement, to win a race, which we've managed to do three times, and to put one of the bikes in the top three of the championship and the other in the top six. We achieved those targets, but missed out on some consistency of performance at certain tracks and it's clear where we need to improve. Continuing with the same two riders for next season makes it easier to make the next steps forward and we're already looking forward to winter testing and some interesting developments coming from Yamaha. Thanks to Yamaha Motor Europe, to Pata, to Rizla, to all our sponsors and partners, to our incredibly hardworking team and, of course, to our two very talented riders."
Lowes Charges To Race 1 Podium in Qatar
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team rider Alex Lowes stormed his way to third place and his fourth podium finish of the season in today's thrilling WorldSBK encounter, run over 17-laps under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. Michael van der Mark brought his Yamaha YZF-R1 home in seventh position to pick up vital championship points, despite experiencing some pain in the latter stages of the race from the injury to his left wrist sustained in his FP1 crash yesterday.
Lowes, who lined up on the front row of the grid after a superb Superpole performance saw him qualify in third place, got a good start and was immediately embroiled in a titanic battle for third and the final podium spot with Eugene Laverty.
Laverty took the early advantage but the Pata Yamaha rider struck back to reclaim third place on lap seven, only for the Irishman to demote him back to fourth again two laps later. The positions remained the same for most of the second half of the as both riders started struggling for grip, Laverty with the front and Lowes with the rear.
On the final lap Lowes made his move, fighting his way past Laverty in a fierce battle and then holding the Irishman off to the line to secure his fourth podium finish of the season in third place.
Van der Mark endured a tough opening race in Qatar today, having missed out on set-up time due to a crash in the early stages of FP1 that left him nursing a painful left wrist injury. The Pata Yamaha rider got a good start from the third row of the grid, but was unable to make up places on the opening laps as he struggled to finish the corners.
Despite experiencing some pain in his wrist towards the end of the race, van der Mark managed to maintain contact with the battle for sixth position that was being fought out ahead of him. As he crossed the line to start the final lap both Chaz Davies and Xavi Fores slowed unexpectedly, allowing van der Mark through into seventh position, which he held to the chequered flag. The Pata Yamaha rider remains third in the championship standings, but is now just 23 points behind second-placed Davies.
The final race of the 2018 FIM World Superbike Championship takes place tomorrow, with lights out at the Losail International Circuit scheduled for 19.00 local time.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 3rd + 3.705
"It's been a strong weekend so far, with a good qualifying session followed by an even better race. I was struggling for rear grip a bit in the race, which is something we need to work on for tomorrow, but towards the end I could see Eugene was also starting to struggle with the front. That opened the door, so I just dug in at the end to pass him for third. It's great to be back on the podium here in Qatar and it was fun to be involved in such a great fight. The team have done a great job this weekend and the race simulation yesterday definitely helped me with the feeling of the R1 on worn tyres. Now we just need to try and finish off the season with another podium tomorrow!"
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th + 14.557
"I got a good start, but then it was really busy on the opening laps and I wasn't able to make up any places. I felt reasonably comfortable on the bike and eventually managed to pass a few people, but then I started struggling to get the bike to turn and then drive out on the gas. I also had some pain in my wrist from half race distance onwards, which didn't really help. It was a really tough race, but at the end I gained two places on the final lap and that's really important for the championship, so we can be relatively happy with that. For tomorrow we need to make some improvements to the bike. If we can do that, and as long as I can get away from the second row of the grid in the leading group, then I'm confident we can fight for a top five finish."
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK - Team Principal
"What a brilliant performance by Alex after some difficult recent races - it was fantastic to see the confidence returning. Along with Eugene he created an incredibly exciting race that all of us, and I'm sure everyone watching, thoroughly enjoyed. Congratulations to Alex and his crew on putting together a great weekend so far and whilst it will be a lot tougher from the third row tomorrow, today's podium is a lot more important than tomorrow's starting position. Well done to everyone involved. Michael's weekend was compromised from the start by his FP1 crash and missing the whole of that session. The lack of track time combined with some injuries that would keep normal people sitting on the sofa made the race tough, but he dug in and maintained his effort for the whole race distance. We also believe we can improve the bike a bit more for Michael and give him a little bit more confidence. If we can do that, then starting from the second row we've seen some exceptional Race 2 performances from Michael this year, let's hope we can finish 2018 with another one tomorrow."
Gagne Equals Career Best Result with Ninth in Qatar
Losail International Circuit, Qatar
A charging Jake Gagne claimed ninth place in the penultimate race of the 2018 WorldSBK season, earning a second row start for Race 2.
After a difficult opening day, the Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team bounced back on Friday at the Losail International Circuit. Both Leon Camier and Jake Gagne started the day well in Free Practice 4 and were confident of challenging for the top two positions in Superpole 1. With a 1’57.555, over a second faster than he had been before SP1, Camier cruised through to Superpole 2 as the fastest rider. He would eventually earn tenth place on the grid, Gagne starting from 14th for the opening race.
The lights went out and Gagne immediately began to charge forward, making up two places on the opening lap. Gagne set a steady string of laps to break away from the chasing group, led by his team-mate Camier. His steady pace paid off towards the end of the race as Gagne picked off the likes of Savadori and Razgatlioglu for ninth place, missing out on eighth by a mere 0.061s as he and Chaz Davies dragged to the line. Gagne will now line up in sixth place on the second row for Race 2.
Having lost places at the start, Camier was eager to recover and chase down Gagne but got caught in traffic. While trying to regain positions the Brit unfortunately slid off at Turn 12, ending his race prematurely but escaping injury.
After taking ninth place in the opening race, Gagne increases his points haul to 64, just a point off 16th place in the championship. Camier continues to hold 12th overall.
The final race of 2018 will begin at 1900 local time (GMT +3) tomorrow, Camier and Gagne both looking to sign off the season in style.
Jake Gagne 45
We had a good race. The first half was pretty lonely but it started to come together for me as the tyre wear increased, I think we managed them a lot better than some of the guys around us. Qualifying wasn’t great, we had the speed to be up there but I made some mistakes and back there on row five makes for a rough start. I started flowing and being a little smoother and the Honda worked really well on the used tyres to end ninth. We can make the bike a little bit better in Warm Up. Row two will make a big difference, we’ve been on row five at pretty much every race and it makes the start tough. If we can get away with the faster guys it will make it a lot easier.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Leon Camier 2
I’m alright after the crash. I went over a bump and the front just went. It was a really fast one but luckily I only slid. In Superpole we went something like 1.8 seconds faster on the race tyre than we had been all weekend. We made a big step, it was only for one lap but we are gaining more. Then in the race we made a step with corner entry and everything is making more sense. We have 15 minutes tomorrow morning to keep improving the bike, so we need to sit down and have a think about what to do.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Really glad for Jake to confirm his speed in another race, his pace was really good. On the grid we told him ‘If you do your 58 lap times the race will come to you’. His ninth place matches his best from Laguna earlier this year so a big congratulations to him and importantly he starts on the second row tomorrow. He will be more than excited for the race tomorrow! Meanwhile, it was a tricky day for Leon. He got stuck in traffic and lost a lot of positions in the opening sector. From that point he tried to get feeling with the bike and push, but unfortunately lost the front in Turn 12 and ended his race. It’s not his weekend yet, but we rebuild and do it again tomorrow!
2018 draws to an end for Red Bull Honda WorldSBK Team in Qatar
Losail International Circuit, Qatar
Adverse track conditions led to the cancellation of the final WorldSBK race of 2018, Camier and Gagne finishing the championship in 12th and 17th respectively.
The final day of the 2018 World Superbike season started in dramatic fashion as a huge sand and rain storm hit the Losail International Circuit, delaying track activity. Warm Up was used by riders to assess track conditions as the circuit continued to dry.
Unfortunately conditions did not improve significantly afterwards and it was decided Race 2 would be cancelled. Jake Gagne, set to start from a career best sixth, and Leon Camier were both disappointed at being unable to put on one last race but agreed with the decision.
Now the 2018 World Superbike season comes to a close. After 13 rounds Leon Camier finishes in 12th place with 108 points. Jake Gagne completes his rookie season in 17th thanks to his haul of 64 points and a strong end to the season.
Leon Camier 2
A massive rain storm before we got going today. The organisers made the right decision to call off the race. As riders we all had our opinions heard. It was a shame to end the season like this, but safety always comes first. We had some ups at the start of the year but with a few injuries along the way it got tough. All in all, we understood a lot towards the end of the year and especially this weekend.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
We got up this morning, we were at the pool at noon and by the time we got to the track it was some of the craziest wind, rain and sand I have ever seen. The track was mostly dry in Warm Up but there were still some wet spots so the race was called off. It’s not how we wanted to end the season, especially after yesterday and starting on the second row but that’s racing! I knew it would be a lot to learn coming in this year but I had such a great crew. I learned so much, I’ve had a fun year living the dream and racing in World Superbike.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
A strange end to the season. The boys worked almost all night to give our best for Race 2 and it’s especially tough for Jake with his first second row start. Leon was also very eager to come back and end the season strong after yesterday’s disappointment. Of course it would have been great to race, but the weather was against us. Now we head back to Europe to look back at the season and see what the plan is.
Solid sixth for Baz in the penultimate SBK race at Losail
Doha (Qatar), Friday 26 October 2018
On track at the Losail International Circuit, the stage for the final Superbike world championship round this weekend, the Gulf Althea BMW Racing team and rider Loris Baz have concluded the first of the two races in solid sixth place.
Superpole2: having concluded yesterday’s practices in sixth position, Baz went straight through to today’s second Superpole phase. After completing two laps with the race tyre, the Frenchman was lying fifth with a time of 1’57.401. Heading back to the pits to put in the qualifying solution, Loris had time for three more laps, the best of which he completed in 1’57.347. Thanks to this time, Baz earned a third-row start, in seventh place, for race one.
SBK Race 1: struggling off the line, Baz lost four positions and was lying eleventh at the end of the opening lap. Determined to fight back, the Frenchman was able to find and maintain a good rhythm, which saw him pass Savadori on lap eight and gain another position shortly afterwards. Ninth towards the mid-race point, Loris further picked up the pace in the final stages of the race, reaching both van der Mark and Davies and executing two impressive passes in quick succession to move up to final sixth place. The Gulf Althea BMW rider thus earns important championship points and brings home a positive result for the team.
“I’m very happy with how today has played out. Superpole went well, I didn’t do quite what I wanted with the qualifying tyre but my performance with the race tyre gave me confidence for the race. As ever, I didn’t make the best start. It was a tough race, hot and humid, and I was struggling early on, but I think we made a good tyre choice, as I was able to come back strong. When I saw van der Mark and Davies were having some issues with the tyre, I made a move and was able to score P6, one of our best results of the year. Let’s see if, in tomorrow’s final race, we can score the points we need to achieve a top ten championship finish.”
From rookie to champion: Sandro Cortese 2018 WorldSSP Champion
German rider comes out on top of sensational WorldSSP fight
Making the switch over into the FIM Supersport World Championship from prototype machines can always be a risk, but Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) made it look effortless in 2018 to be crowned World Champion. Bringing his experience, pure speed, racing talent and tenacious fighting spirit, the German rider has ensured fans were entertained to the very last lap and took the title in sensational style in Qatar.
Heading over the Phillip Island for his WorldSSP debut in February, Cortese was recharged and ready for the fight after a difficult winter. Taking to his YZF-R6 for only the second time in the official test, he finished top four overall ahead of the start of the season. And what followed in the Yamaha Finance Australian Round was sensational from Cortese, fighting with the experienced front runners for the podium which boiled down to a breath-taking final lap as he took a podium position, and the fastest lap of the race from Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team). Cortese had already arrived in round one.
Heading west to Thailand for round two, this was a new track for the 28 year old so a true test of his skills with his new bike. Facing the heat as well as the circuit, he took home a fourth position finish from a fourth place grid start. An impressive effort for a rookie in the ever competitive class. But he was now preparing for tracks he was familiar with and was full of motivation. MotorLand Aragon marked the start of the European season, and for Cortese this marked the start of his championship charge. Coming out and dominating the field in northern Spain, he took pole position and the race win in only his third race, crossing the line 1.4s ahead of his rivals. But as the championship headed straight to TT Circuit Assen, Cortese struggled to match his pace around a track he is so familiar with. Starting from pole position, he couldn’t emulate this into a podium, after a slow start off the line meant he suffered in the 18 lap battle.
Dusting himself off heading to the historic Imola circuit, the rookie was only seven points off the top of the standings and the battle in WorldSSP was as tense as ever. A new track for the German, Imola is notoriously tight, twisty and technical and it was set to be a hard task for a newbie. But Cortese showed a true champions attitude, starting from ninth on the grid and fought to secure a top four finish around a circuit which is difficult to overtake. But it was a return to the top in the UK, as he set to take on Donington Park for the first time since 2009 when he was racing in the 125cc World Championship.
Sunny skies welcomed the paddock at Donington Park, and sunny smiles were met off it from Cortese and his team. Securing third on the grid as he continued to get used to the Superpole format of a 15 minute ‘dash’, he was a man determined out on track. Crossing the line 1.3s ahead of his main title rival Jules Cluzel (NRT), it was clear that when all the packages came together, Cortese was unstoppable. His grand performance in Great Britain meant he now led the world championship standings for the first time, with an advantage of seven points over Cluzel.
There were now two new tracks ahead of him, putting him in a strong position to extend his championship lead. In the humid conditions at Automotodrom Brno, the German was unable to convert his pole position into a win; but secured second as he was unable to catch Cluzel to the line. In the final race before the summer break, Misano proved a tough track for Cortese and his Yamaha but he could convert a fifth on the grid to third in the race, taking home another trophy and as a result a five point championship lead into the break.
Returning ready to fight in Portugal, tests throughout the summer helped him to understand the rollercoaster nature of the track. But drama struck in the opening laps as a hot-headed Cortese was unable to make a move up the inside of Cluzel stick, and the pair crashed out as a result. Not giving up, the German put on a sensational fightback as he was able to get back on his bike and take a fifth position finish, salvaging 11 points and keeping a hold of his lead in the standings. Another new track of Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours followed, and for Cortese it was time to start thinking of the title. Unable to catch Cluzel on his home turf, he secured a second position finish meaning he now had the first opportunity to take the title in Argentina, heading with an 11 point advantage.
With all riders on even ground at Circuito San Juan Villicum, it was a welcomed change for the Yamaha rider. But despite putting his all into the race, he was unable to stop Cluzel and the fight went down to Qatar. All the German had to do in Qatar was finish in the top two to take the title, which was done with his usual tenacious battling out on track, to crown him 2018 FIM Supersport World Champion.
Only the second German to ever win the WorldSSP title, the story of Cortese’s sensational season has been consistency and will go down in history as the first man to win the Moto3™ and WorldSSP crown.
You can congratulate Cortese on social media using #CorteseChamp.
Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing):
"I am so speechless! I am so happy and I can enjoy this moment. I have to say thank you to my team, they picked me up after such a difficult winter, I had no ride and they believed in me. I think we did the maximum we could this year, we gave everything all year, and the people in my team are great. And a final thank you to my family, they helped me in hard times and I cant wait to get back home!"
Mahias Wins In Qatar as GRT Yamaha Secure Team Title
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team rider Lucas Mahias continued his domination in Qatar today, taking an emphatic win in difficult conditions and securing second place in the final championship standings to sign off from his 2018 campaign. Federico Caricasulo joined his teammate on the podium, after a remarkable recovery from what was a difficult weekend saw him claim a superb third place at the chequered flag.
Torrential rain at the Losail International Circuit ahead of warm up forced a delay to today's race program, with the WorldSSP riders taking to the track for a 15-minute warm-up more than 90 minutes later than scheduled. Following the session both the riders raised concerns about the track conditions, which resulted in a delay to the race start as circuit staff worked to disperse the water running across the track at turns four, seven and 15.
The race, shortened from 15 to 12 laps, eventually got underway at 16.45 and it was the two championship contenders, Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel, who made the early running at the front, with Mahias sat in behind the duelling duo.
Not wanting to influence the outcome of the championship, Mahias had to wait until the closing stages of the race before an opportunity presented itself to pass both riders cleanly. The GRT Yamaha rider took the lead with two laps to go and had pulled out a gap by the time he took the chequered flag to secure his third race win of the season.
With Cluzel crashing out on the final lap, the 25 points for the win were enough to promote Mahias to second place in the final championship standings behind fellow Yamaha rider, and newly crowned 2018 Supersport World Champion, Cortese.
Caricasulo struggled in practice and qualifying ahead of today's race, but the Italian bounced back in fine style this evening. After a less than perfect start from the third row of the grid, the GRT Yamaha rider got his head down and started his charge to the front.
Scything his way through the field, Caricasulo was closing fast on the leading trio when Cluzel crashed out of the race on the final lap, promoting the Italian to third place, which he held to the chequered flag to claim his sixth podium finish of the season.
The success enjoyed by Mahias and Caricasulo this season was more than enough to secure GRT Yamaha the coveted team's championship title for the second year in succession, with an advantage of 59 points over their closest rival.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st
"What a crazy weekend for me; I won two races in one weekend, which I think is a first for the World Supersport Championship! Also I arrived here fifth in the championship but I head home having finished second. Pole position, a new circuit record and the race win; pretty much a perfect way to end the season, so I'm really happy. Congratulations to Sandro on winning the World Championship and commiserations to Jules, who had no option but to push for the win today if he was to claim the title. Thanks to Yamaha and to my team for helping me realise my dream during the past two years. Now it's back home to start training over the winter, ready for next season."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 3rd +3.173
"It was a difficult weekend because from the first session I was missing around one second to the frontrunners. In the race I felt much better in sector three where I'd been losing all my time previously and I was much faster as a result. My start wasn't great and I was 11th in the first corner, but then I managed to push to get back towards the front. The three guys ahead of me towards the end had a little bit too much of a gap for me to catch them, but I'm happy to have finished the last race of the season on the podium, after what started as a very difficult weekend for me. Congratulations to Sandro on the championship and thanks to my team for their hard work and dedication this season."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"We made some promises ahead of this weekend. We said we'd win the race, and we did that. We said we'd wrap up the team's championship and we did that too. Lucas did an incredible job this weekend and had a fantastic race this evening. He was faster than the two guys fighting for the championship from the start, but waited until he could pass cleanly before making his move for the lead, so as not to affect the outcome. That's true sportsmanship. Federico made an incredible recovery after difficult practice and qualifying sessions. We know he always finds a little bit more in the race and he certainly did that today, fighting his way through from 11th position in the first corner to finish on the podium in third. Thank you to everyone in the team, as they have made an incredible job for the second year in succession and shown once again with the team's championship title that we are the strongest in the WorldSSP paddock. Thank you also to Yamaha for their support and congratulations to Sandro on the championship title. Commiserations to Jules, who animated the race incredibly today, but was unfortunate to crash on the final lap. We wish him a speedy recovery. Now we look forward to the challenges the future may bring."
KRUMMENACHER CONCLUDES THE SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN FOURTH PLACE
Doha (Qatar) 27 October 2018
The lights have gone out at the Losail Circuit and the Supersport world championship has drawn to a close, Krummenacher rounding out his second year in the 600 category in fourth place.
Randy Krummenacher, having finished Friday’s sessions in third place, and yesterday’s free practice in second, was unable to find the same feeling in Superpole2, a session that saw him close eleventh. Arriving in Qatar in third place in the standings, his position was snatched back by Frenchman Lucas Mahias who, after making an appeal to the CAS, was awarded the 25 points that he had been denied at the end of the Portimao race. That wasn’t the only surprise today though, as Doha, and particularly the area around the Losail circuit, was hit by a violent storm at around 2pm local time, shortly before the start of the warm-up. Many structures were damaged and the track became treacherous. Race direction subsequently delayed the start of both the warm-up and the race. The riders took part in warm-up on a wet track, before the race eventually got underway at 6.45pm local time. The 12-lap race turned out to be extremely hard-fought and was run in tricky conditions, with water and sand on certain sections of the track.
Krummenacher, from eleventh on the grid, made a good start and moved straight up into sixth place, a position he held to the line. With Lucas Mahias winning this final race, and following the recent decision of the CAS, Krummenacher finished the season in fourth place.
The Team Bardahl Evan Bros. rider, not fully satisfied with these recent happenings, nevertheless sees the positives of this 2018 season.
#RK21: “My second season in Supersport 600 comes to an end. It’s a category I really like and one I will compete in once again next year, remaining with Team Bardahl Evan Bros. This was our first year with Yamaha, a bike with great potential and one with which we’ve gained a lot of experience. Today’s race was difficult; the track was dirty and wet in some places and I tried to get the best out of a tough situation, particularly seeing that I started eleventh. We learned a lot in this race and I feel we’ve taken another step forward. Unfortunately, I was penalised by the decision of the CAS with regard to Mahias. I haven’t yet understood the reasoning but if things had stayed as they were after Portimao, I would have finished with the bronze medal overall. No regrets anyway, I’m looking ahead to next season. I and the team will be starting with more experience and this will help. I want to thank my team for their hard work, my sponsors for having given me the chance to participate in such a high level championship and, last but not least, my family that always supports me at home and at the track”.
Superb top ten for Sebestyen in Qatar
Posted on 27th October 2018
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Peter Sebestyen overcame treacherous track conditions to score his first top ten finish in World Supersport at the final race of the season at the Losail International Circuit this evening.
Severe rain storms earlier in the day left large puddles of water lying on the surface of an otherwise dry track but Sebestyen felt strong on the dirty, wet parts of the circuit and was determined to achieve his 2018 goal of a top ten finish.
Sebestyen said: “For today I didn’t want to change anything because for one day with these kind of conditions I didn’t want to change my riding style so I tried to be calm but very aggressive in the first laps. It was my best first few laps of the year so I’m happy about it but I couldn’t keep the pace with the top group. In the second part of the race I felt like I could pass Badovini and finally we scored tenth position which was the goal for this year. I am happy about it and we will see next year, I hope we will be even better. I want to say a big thanks to CIA Landlord Insurance Honda, they have got my career back on track.”
There was no joy for teammate Kyle Smith in today’s shortened race when his clutch lever was damaged in a collision with Thomas Gradinger on the opening lap. Smith managed to keep it together, even posting a fastest lap but he couldn’t select the gear into the corner and slid off at turn seven on the fifth lap.
Smith said: “Such a frustrating way to finish the season. I had a coming together with Gradinger at turn one that knocked my clutch lever up. I managed to bash it back straight but the bolts came lose so I had no clutch lever. When I went to change down for the corner I couldn’t and ended up crashing so it was just bad luck. It couldn’t have happened at a worse place, this is a track I like plus I felt like I had the pace to battle for the lead but that’s the way things are.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “It was a great ride for Peter he overtook Badovini on the last straight so it’s a great end to the season for him. Our original aim was for him to score points which he’s done and now he’s made the top ten so we are looking forward to a great 2019 with him. For sure we are going to improve our bike and we will have a really good package for a successful season.”
“Kyle had a coming together with Gradinger, you can’t say it was anyone’s fault it was just one of those things. It was such a shame but Kyle rode well and he certainly had the pace to fight for the podium. Big congratulations to Peter Sebestyen and let’s look forward to putting everything together for the 2019 season. Everything has happened later for everyone this year we have to sort everything with the budget but we aim to be on the grid in 2019 and challenging at the front.”
Contrasting Fortunes In WorldSSP Season Finale
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders Hikari Okubo and Hector Barbera had very different outcomes after the last race of the 2018 WorldSSP season at Losail International Circuit. Barbera was a season-best seventh and Okubo an unlucky faller.
After many delays and the possibility of there being no race at all after extreme weather events earlier in the day, the WorldSSP race was shortened to 12 laps and not the planned 15.
With rivulets of water on the surface in a few sections of the track the race got underway at 18.45, instead of the planned 17.30.
At turn two on the first lap Okubo’s bike developed a technical problem when the drive chain appeared to jump the sprockets and he fell, no scoring but escaping with bumps and bruises.
Barbera, at a circuit he knows well from his MotoGP days, pushed as hard as he could and was top Kawasaki rider, in a personal best seventh place. Starting from tenth on the grid, he was just 6.709 seconds from the race winner.
In the overall championship Okubo slipped one place to 13th at the end of the season, while Barbera was 17th, improving on his best race finishes at all four of the rounds he has competed in.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “There was a problem with the bike, not my mistake. So it was a disappointing way to end the season.”
Hector Barbera stated: “My race today was better and my feeling at this round was better. This track is a good one for me because I have raced here for many years. But it was difficult to battle with some other bikes. All race I pushed and pushed but it was impossible to finish any nearer the front. I am happy. Congratulations to the team because they worked very well. My feeling is good because seventh position is not bad.”
Christian Stange (Team GoEleven) scored points for 14th today, while Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) placed 15th and got on the championship scoreboard. Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) and Glenn van Straalen (EAB antwest Kawasaki) did not finish the Losail race.