Mahias takes Qatar final win to clinch Championship
Sofuoglu closes season on podium and second overall
Anthony West fifth to end season eighth overall
Lucas Mahias may have had the championship wrapped up as long as he finished high enough to maintain his points lead over Sofuoglu, but Jules Cluzel didn’t make it easy for him, fighting him to the finish line with just 0.023s separating the two, as Mahias took the final race win of the season, alongside the Championship title.
Lucas Mahias – 2017 WorldSSP Champion
“It is incredible, I push a lot in the race to win the race. In the beginning ti was not my plan, it was to win the title but the feeling in the bike is very good and I think today is my day. The bike felt fantastic and I pushed and fought with Jules. The feeling I have now is amazing, 10 years ago I started to race and now I am world champion. I want to thank Yamaha, my team and my family, because this title was not only won by me, it was a team effort.”
Sofuoglu proved he still has it, taking the final podium position, while still recovering from a number of fractures to his hip, which originally looked set to end his season prematurely.
Mahias and Sofuoglu embraced during the post-race celebrations after a breathtaking contest at the Losail International Circuit.
Kenan Sofuoglu – P3 (2017 WorldSSP runner-up)
“At the beginning of the race it was very difficult with everyone riding around me. When they had all calmed down and started to ride normally, I started to pass them and put in very good lap times. I almost got to the leaders’ group but Caricasulo was riding very aggressively. We still got to the podium at the end, set the lap record and were second in the world championship. I am very happy, honestly, because we did not lose the championship today, we lost the championship in the races we did not start. All the races we rode to the finish we took a podium. I just need to be happy and say thank you to all the doctors who supported me this weekend.”
French rider Mahias held his nerve in the final stages to cross the line just in front of his countryman Cluzel to seal the title with a victory.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) finished a close fourth, being beaten across the line by the gritty Sofuoglu.
Mahias, Cluzel and Caricasulo had contested the podium spots for most of the race, though Mahias led the way for the majority of the 15 lap battle.
Sofuoglu was caught up further back in the field, fighting with the likes of Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing), Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing), Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) and PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) as he made his way through the pack to fourth and then chased Caricasulo down in the final stages.
It was incredible that Sofuoglu had even made it onto the starting grid given that he suffered a triple hip fracture in France just over one month ago, the Turkish rider bravely making a comeback far earlier than expected, as he did his best to defend his title.
It was an outside shot as he went into the race 20 points behind Mahias, but it was a hugely valiant effort by the five-time World Champion. Sofuoglu remarkably even set a new race fastest lap around the Losail track on lap 12.
Anthony West (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished in fifth place, followed by Tuuli, Morais, Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing), Gino Rea (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) and Smith in the top ten. West took eighth overall in the standings having raced earlier in the season on board his privateer machine.
Anthony West – P5
“My start was good but being on the inside you could either be lucky if everybody goes wide, or unlucky if they don’t, and nobody did. I got stuck a little bit and a few guys got past me. Then a few guys crashed in front of me, so I was baulked a little bit. I felt strong during the race and was able to catch people on the track. I wish the result was a little bit better but I am happy as the last two years have been hard ones. Now I have started to enjoy the racing again and to be fighting for something.”
There was drama on the first lap of the final WorldSSP race of 2017 as Christoffer Bergman (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI) went down at turn 6.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was another victim of turn 6 with 8 laps to go, whilst that lap also brought an end to the race for American rider Jacobsen who had been well placed for a top ten finish.
Lachlan Epis finished the season with an 18th place finish, while fellow Australian Giuseppe Scarcella was forced to retire.
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