2019 World Superbikes
Day 1 Report – Round 13 – Qatar
Chaz Davies topped Friday proceedings from Jonathan Rea and Alvaro Bautista.
“It was a bit of a surprise to find myself at the top of the timesheets to be honest but today my Panigale V4 R felt really good. I didn’t really start the day well when I came off the bike at Turn 4 on the second lap of the first session, but once I got back out on the track I soon got my confidence back. We worked on the bike between the two sessions, picked a direction and it worked, and the guys did a really good job to give me a good bike for FP2. I’m pleased because it seems like our best set-up isn’t too far away at all. We’ve just got to work on our race pace tomorrow and I’m confident we can find a little bit more.”
It was a strong session for Alvaro Bautista, as the Spaniard looks to finish his rookie season in World Superbike on a high. The 34-year-old was down in seventh after the first session but come the end of FP2, he was up in third.
“It’s always a nice experience to ride again at night at Losail with the artificial lights, even though you need a couple of laps to understand the track conditions. In FP1 the track wasn’t in the best state, but we managed to do a good number of laps and get references with the Panigale V4 R. In the second session we worked on the bike set-up to improve the rear grip and I made a good step forward. The problem is after a few laps with used tyres, I feel a lot of movement on the bike, but in any case I’m happy because the feeling was good and I have a good race pace.”
Rea was second on Friday as the five-time World Superbike Champion worked solidly on his race pace. After a difficult opening session, Leon Haslam was left down in 12th.
“I had a good day and we understood the tyre options for the weekend a little bit. The track rubbered-in really quickly and FP1 was fast already. In the second session we worked on our consistency and pace. I feel quite good. The bike is working really well where I need it work. In some areas I need a little bit more turning, especially in the fast areas. I am putting too much stress on the tyre, using too much angle to get the bike to turn. But for a first day, I feel quite good. You always want to finish the season with a good feeling and that is important. Of course we have a big target to try and win the Manufacturers’ Award for Kawasaki; that is very important.”
Toprak Razgatliolgu is in a strong position to overhaul those ahead of him in the Championship and completed the first day of Qatar action in fourth. There were plenty of other Independent riders inside the top ten, with Sandro Cortese in ninth and Loris Baz in tenth.
Closely matched in the Championship and closely matched after Thursday action, the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team duo of Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark continue to squabble on their last weekend in the same team. Van der Mark had the upper hand and was up in fifth place, whilst Lowes was seventh when the chequered flag came out. Both are in a fierce battle for third with Toprak Razgatlioglu.
The BMW charge in Qatar was led by 2013 WorldSBK Champion Tom Sykes, who spent most of the session down in 15th place, before firing in a good lap time with less than eight-minutes to go, putting him in sixth. Teammate Markus Reiterberger came to the fore and was eighth after day one. The German rider, so far without a ride confirmed on the 2020 grid in WorldSBK, put himself in the shop window at the right time, reminding everyone what he is capable of.
Outside of the top ten on his final weekend, Marco Melandri goes into the final two days of his WorldSBK career in 14th, whilst top Honda belonged to Leon Camier in 17th, now confirmed at BARNI Ducati for 2020.
WSBK Motul Qatar Round – Combined Practice to FP2
|5||M. Van Der Mark||Yamaha||+0.708|
World Superbike Standings
|4||Michael Van Der Mark||304|
|13||Michael Ruben Rinaldi||118|
The final World Supersport session of the day in Qatar kicked off with much drama, as the Championship battle took another turn. Leading the way come the conclusion of the opening day was Jules Cluzel, with a huge advantage over the rest of the field, doing what he needs to do in order to keep his title hopes alive.
There was drama from the off in the 45-minute session, as Randy Krummenacher crashed at Turn 4, running fractionally wide on the exit of the corner and low-siding out. He wasn’t the only crasher in the first third of the session however, as Assen podium finisher Thomas Gradinger tucked the front at the final corner. Moments later, Jaimie van Sikkelerus ran on at Turn 1 but didn’t topple over – the exact same thing happened to the Dutchman in FP1.
Picking up from where he left off in FP1, Jules Cluzel was right in the mix for the leading positions again. The French rider is looking for his first back-to-back wins since Assen and Imola in 2018, in order to have a chance of claiming WorldSSP glory. With a massive 0.7s margin to his rivals, he is the man to beat after ending day one on top. In the final ten minutes, Federico Caricasulo began to show his pace, finishing second.
He’ll be eager to capitalise on the Swiss rider’s bad form of late and pinch the title away from the other side of the garage. Second overall, Caricasulo is in fine form. Continuing to show his promise at the pointy-end of WorldSSP was veteran, Ayrton Badovini. The Italian was as high as second in FP2 and come the end of the day, was up in third.
Coming on leaps and bounds in recent rounds, Isaac Viñales was right up the sharp end of things on Friday. The Spaniard took advantage of his track knowledge from his Moto3 and Moto2 career and put it to good use to finish day one in fourth. Remounting from his crash in the early stages, Randy Krummenacher was back inside the top five with less than five minutes to go in the session.
The Swiss rider was the lowest place of the Championship contenders after the first day of action but that in itself will give him plenty of motivation for Friday and Saturday. Fifth in the end, he has work to do to keep his title lead. Raffaele De Rosa was sixth overall, 0.909s off a rampant Cluzel.
Seventh at the close of business on the opening day went to Lucas Mahias, as the Frenchman dropped away a little bit during the flurry of fast laps at the end of the session. Corentin Perolari was looking in good form in Qatar, as he chases down his first WorldSSP podium after achieving a first pole in Argentina. But from South America to the Middle East, Perolari looks poised for another strong weekend and finished in eighth overall. Two-time Losail winner Kyle Smith was ninth, whilst Hungary’s Peter Sebestyen completed the top ten as top Honda.
World Supersport Standings
|6||Raffaele De Rosa||92|
|20||Glenn Van Straalen||9|
|22||Jaimie Van Sikkelerus||9|
The WorldSSP300 grid makes history this weekend with their first visit outside of Europe coming at the Motul Qatar Round. The feeder class is set to dazzle under the spotlights of the Losail International Circuit, with Thursday’s opening sessions offering a taste of the action to come. Making his debut at the Qatari venue, it was Manuel Gonzalezwho was once again on top.
The lights of Losail only mean one thing: motorcycle racing is in action! Despite the usual craziness out on circuit, what with riders looking for a slipstream and waiting on the racing line, 2019 WorldSSP300 Champion Manuel Gonzalez thread the eye of the needle to set a good lap time during the middle stages of the session.
Second overall was Ana Carrasco, who used her Moto3 experience to propel her to the silver-medal position. The outgoing WorldSSP300 Champion was over a second clear in FP1 and will look to gain back the advantage going into the rest of the weekend. Completing the top three was Andy Verdoïa, who is still in the battle for second overall in the Championship.
Fourth after the opening day of action was Czech talent, Oliver König, lapping strongly throughout the night to confirm is solid pace at Losail. In fifth place and just fractionally behind him, Dutch rider Dion Otten made it four nationalities inside the top five, as he worked away on his pace. Otten is looking for a good end to the season to go into 2020 well prepared. Filippo Rovelli completed the top six and was top Italian after day one, 0.712s behind Gonzalez on top.
Battling for second in the Championship, Portimao race winner Scott Deroue was only seventh on his return to action under the floodlights of Losail. He was marginally ahead of fellow countryman Victor Steeman, with the Dutch charge coming from the provision third row. Tom Edwards was ninth and was flew the Australian flag high, whilst just behind, Ukrainian Nick Kalinin completed the top ten just days after announcing his 2020 plans in the WorldSSP300 class.
World Supersport 300 Standings
|8||Galang Hendra Pratama||55|
|9||Hugo De Cancellis||47|
|20||Samuel Di Sora||11|
|21||Enzo De La Vega||11|
|31||Ferran Hernandez Moyano||6|
|34||Joel Damon Kelso||4|
|35||Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez||4|