Jonathan Rea has won the first WorldSBK race of the weekend at Qatar, resisting the pressure from Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes to hold on and break away in the final laps.
Rea got a fantastic start off the line, leaving the Yamahas of Alex Lowes and Sandro Cortese behind. The slow Yamahas allowed Tom Sykes to get his BMW ahead into Turn 1, but Sykes ran a fraction wide and was bumped out on the exit, letting the Yamahas back underneath.
Rea pushed to stretch an advantage, but couldn't shake Alex Lowes, no matter how hard he tried. Sandro Cortese followed at a modest distance, while the hard-charging Chaz Davies was quickly up to fourth after getting fantastic start to compensate for a poor qualifying, starting from twelfth on the grid.
Davies was the fastest man on track for those early laps, first hunting down and then passing Sandro Cortese. The GRT Yamaha rider made the mistake of trying to up his pace, crashing out shortly after being passed by Davies.
From there, the hunt was on. Lowes continued to chase Rea, while behind them Davies closed in. Rea tried to up the pace, but for lap after lap, Lowes matched whatever pace the reigning champion could manage. All the while, Davies drew ever closer.
As the race neared two thirds distance, Rea upped the pace once again. This time, it was a little too much for Lowes, especially as the Pata Yamaha rider also had to deal with the Aruba Ducati of Davies, who had by now arrived on his tail. On lap 13, Davies sliced surgically up the inside of Lowes at the final corner, putting himself in the perfect position to drive out of the last turn and onto the front straight.
For a couple of laps, it looked like Davies might catch Rea, but in the end, the Aruba Ducati rider had used up too much of his tires coming through to put himself in podium position. In the last three laps, the podium riders stretched apart, Rea eventually winning by over 2 seconds ahead of Davies, while Lowes slipped back another couple of seconds behind the Ducati to take third.
Alvaro Bautista crossed the line in fourth, after a lonely race once he had gotten past the group consisting of Toprak Razgatlioglu, Michael van der Mark, and Leon Haslam. The battle for fifth would eventually be won by Haslam on the Kawasaki, winning a fierce duel with Van der Mark in the last couple of laps.
Loris Baz would take a strong seventh, having chased down the battle for fifth, but never got close enough to launch his own attack. Razgatlioglu put himself out of contention on lap 12, running wide at Turn 6 when he locked the front and had a massive moment trying to get the bike stopped, forced into the gravel and rejoining to finish eleventh.
Razgatlioglu's mistake and Lowes' podium shook up the battle for third in the championship. Rea has already been crowned champion, and Bautista is safe in second, but Lowes now has a firmer grasp on third, 7 points clear of teammate Michael van der Mark, who is in turn 10 points ahead of Toprak Razgatlioglu.
Two more races remain on Saturday. The Superpole race, and then the last race of the 2019 WorldSBK season.
There was a strange incident on the warm up lap, Jordi Torres highsiding out at Turn 1, and forced to retire.
|1||1||J. REA||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|
|2||7||C. DAVIES||Ducati Panigale V4 R||2.732|
|3||22||A. LOWES||Yamaha YZF R1||5.423|
|4||19||A. BAUTISTA||Ducati Panigale V4 R||8.043|
|5||91||L. HASLAM||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||17.720|
|6||60||M. VAN DER MARK||Yamaha YZF R1||17.738|
|7||76||L. BAZ||Yamaha YZF R1||18.176|
|8||28||M. REITERBERGER||BMW S1000 RR||20.479|
|9||50||E. LAVERTY||Ducati Panigale V4 R||24.500|
|10||2||L. CAMIER||Honda CBR1000RR||29.320|
|11||54||T. RAZGATLIOGLU||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||33.166|
|12||33||M. MELANDRI||Yamaha YZF R1||34.673|
|13||21||M. RINALDI||Ducati Panigale V4 R||42.661|
|14||23||R. KIYONARI||Honda CBR1000RR||50.020|
|15||52||A. DELBIANCO||Honda CBR1000RR||54.485|
|16||9||D. SCHMITTER||Yamaha YZF R1||1'08.582|
|RET||36||L. MERCADO||Kawasaki ZX-10RR||6 Laps|
|RET||11||S. CORTESE||Yamaha YZF R1||5 Laps|
|RET||66||T. SYKES||BMW S1000 RR||16 Laps|
|RET||81||J. TORRES||Kawasaki ZX-10RR|