WorldSBK set for Qatar closer

After 34 races, 12 rounds, visits to ten countries across five continents, inspiring comebacks, shattered records, very public rivalries, controversy, the occasional inclement weather, laughs, tears and, most importantly, some phenomenal racing, we have arrived at the final destination. The Motul FIM Superbike World Championship lands in Qatar where fireworks are sure to fly once again between the top contenders, as they have done non-stop for the past eight months.

WorldSBK Argentina Day SBK Jonathan Rea Alvaro Bautista
Alvaro Bautista muscles in on Jonathan Rea

The fierce back-and-forth between Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) promises to continue for several years to come, but for now this will be the final time they face off in their current colours. Bautista will serve the new HRC squad from 2020 onwards, closing a brief yet intense and somewhat confusing chapter in red.

WorldSBK Argentina Day Bautista
Alvaro Bautista

While pure dominance led Rea to at least three of his previous four world titles, this one has undoubtedly been marked by his consistency, even in defeat. Yet the Northern Irishman still has a chance to match his total number of victories from 2018 – albeit in 37 races rather than 25 – and trump his nemesis in the process. Rea has won 14 races, Bautista 16: the rest is self-explanatory.

Jonathan Rea

“I can’t believe it’s the end of another season. While we were able to achieve the target we set at the beginning of the year at the Magny Cours round, there is still a lot to play for going into this weekend. We are trying to bring home the manufacturers’ title for Kawasaki. It is nice to have these targets going into the weekend at a circuit that I really, really love. I love everything about the race. Riding under the lights is something really special because you feel at one with the bike as there are no external distractions in your line of sight. After an amazing weekend in Argentina, where I felt really competitive with the bike and we worked really well as a team in the limited practice time, that will be the same target in Qatar. To work really well together to maximise the potential of the Ninja ZX-10RR. Our goal is simple – to go out and win some races and end the season on a high. It has been a real dream season and I am really looking forward to the Losail race weekend. Can’t wait to get there.”

hi MagnyCours WSBK Race Rea JM
Jonathan Rea 2019 World Superbike Champion

It remains to be seen which bike takes best to the Losail International Circuit. 5.360km-long and with a kilometre-plus start-finish straight, one would think it would suit the Borgo Panigale rocket and therefore Bautista; but Rea, let’s not forget, is undefeated here since 2017.

WSBK Rnd France Magny Cours Sun Jonathan Rea
Jonathan Rea

Their respective teammates will also be looking to end the season on a high. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) will be sat on the V4 R next year and seems to be coming to terms with the package – what better way to solidify your claim as a title contender for next year than to win the closing races? It wouldn’t be the first time the Welshman sits atop of the Losail podium; nor would it be for Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), who ended his previous full-time stint in WorldSBK with a victory in Qatar. Instrumental to KRT retaining the Teams Championship, a first win in green would be a fine finale to his Kawasaki comeback.

Leon Haslam

“I managed to do a wildcard race here a few years ago with the Pedercini Kawasaki team and I had a top five result. That was quite nice, especially with the level we arrived there at. Last time I was here in the full-time WorldSBK championship was in 2015, and I won the last race. So good memories! I think the long straight is going to be a little bit of a factor with a few of the bikes but I really enjoy the layout – and it is always nice racing at night. I am looking to finish the season strongly.”

WSBK Portimao Day Haslam Raz Cortese
Leon Haslam has not fired as hard as he had hoped in 2019

Honour is always on the line in the final showdown of the year, but for many riders the stakes are much, much higher than that. Just six points separate three riders in the battle for bronze: current Pata Yamaha duo Alex Lowes and Michael van der Mark, and future Pata Yamaha star Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing). Two of them have won races this season; the other remains ahead in the standings. The two men in blue hold 15 podium finishes between them; Razgatlioglu has claimed 13 alone yet still trails them on points. It’s been a standout season for all three – but there’s only room for one on the highlight reel.

WSBK Rnd Magny Cours WorldSBK Saturday Race Ambience Razgatlioglu Parc Ferme
Toprak Razgatlioglu is off to Pata Yamaha next year

Early 2019 saw the birth of several new projects in WorldSBK; Round 13, accordingly, will be the moment to evaluate where they stand one year on. For Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team), his first year after trading the green and black leathers for white ones can only be deemed a success. A win under the floodlights would cap off this first season quite nicely.

Shaun Muir – Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team

“After a quite frustrating weekend at Argentina we now come to our final round of the season and we want to finish on a high. Overall, we had some good gains in straight-line speed at the last round in Argentina. We hope to carry that into the Qatar round where we know that we will need speed on the long straight. Equally, we feel the BMW S 1000 RR will be very strong on other parts of the circuit, with the fast and flowing aspects giving us some definite advantages over the competition. I think there’s an outside chance we can challenge for the podium. It would be a sweet finish to our first year in this partnership. The whole team has worked extremely hard and deserves a final bit of success before we focus on 2020.”

WSBK Rnd France Magny Cours Sun Tom Sykes
A win before season end would pump Team BMW up ahead of the off-season and next year

This has also been the first year of the triple-pronged Moriwaki-Althea-Honda project. A season somewhat marred by injuries and disappointing results has taken a slight up0turn in the last couple of rounds thanks to Leon Camier, who has managed to close the gap with the leading machines. Nonetheless Camier will leave Honda after the season finale and will join Barni Ducati, which will mark the sixth different brand the Briton has raced with in World Superbike.

WSBK Phillip Island Pits Camier
Leon Camier and Honda’s season has been almost completely without a highlight….

Qatar is also synonymous with chapters closing and new doors opening; the list of those who will be moving on in the New Year includes Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven), Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) or Markus Reiterberger (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). But for one man the story itself is coming to an end. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) will write the final lines of his career as an active competitor at the Losail International Circuit. A World Champion and multiple race winner with a memorable personality, his presence in the paddock will be sorely missed. From Monday onwards, that is – on Friday and Saturday the diminutive Italian will be out to win, as he has done in every race for the past three decades.

Marco Melandri

“Qatar will be my last race weekend before retirement, which means I head there with mixed emotions. On one hand I’m a little sad because racing has been such a huge part of my life and I had hoped to bow out on a higher note, as the results this season don’t reflect my potential and are not how I want to be remembered. Conversely, I’m also happy to have made the decision to stop, especially after such a difficult season. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved in my racing career, but now it’s time to turn the page and start a new chapter in my life. Qatar is a beautiful place to race, especially under the floodlights, and I’ll have many friends around me this weekend as I race for the last time. The goal is to finish as I started, by giving it my all and pushing for the best result possible.”

WSBK Rnd Assen Day Melandri
Marco Melandri is set to sign off on a long and fortuitous career

World Superbike Standings

Pos. Rider Points
1 Jonathan Rea 601
2 Alvaro Bautista 460
3 Alex Lowes 305
4 Michael Van Der Mark 304
5 Toprak Razgatlioglu 299
6 Leon Haslam 257
7 Chaz Davies 249
8 Tom Sykes 219
9 Marco Melandri 173
10 Jordi Torres 132
11 Sandro Cortese 126
12 Loris Baz 118
13 Michael Ruben Rinaldi 118
14 Leandro Mercado 75
15 Markus Reiterberger 73
16 Eugene Laverty 63
17 Leon Camier 45
18 Alessandro Delbianco 28
19 Ryuichi Kiyonari 22
20 Lorenzo Zanetti 21
21 Peter Hickman 14
22 Thomas Bridewell 12
23 Yuki Takahashi 11
24 Michele Pirro 10
25 Samuele Cavalieri 6
26 Sylvain Barrier 3
27 Hector Barbera 3
28 Takumi Takahashi 1
 

WorldSSP: Three riders. One Champion
The final round of 2019 awaits WorldSSP!

After the rollercoaster season that has gripped the FIM Supersport World Championship in 2019, it goes down to the wire yet again. For a third consecutive year, the WorldSSP title fight will be sorted out under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit and Qatar. In what is the only visit to the Middle East, World Supersport has seen some of the closest finishes in its history occur in the ever-developing oil-rich country, and 2019 is going to be no exception.

WorldSBK POR DWO Test Day WorldSSP FP Action Krummenacher
Randy Krummenacher

He’s led the Championship since Australia but Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) has seen his lead slashed from over 20 points to just eight. Mistakes in recent rounds have put the title celebrations on ice for the Swiss star and he’s not in the greatest of form either. Coming from his two worst weekends in 2019, Krummenacher knows that if there’s one race he needs to recapture form for, it’s this one. A win for his teammate Federico Caricasulo and a third place for Krummenacher swings the title to the Italian. After fraught comments following a disappointing Argentina, it is now or never for Krummenacher.

Federico Caricasulo Dosoli
Federico Caricasulo is off to the GRT Yamaha World Superbike Team next season

Having chased Krummenacher hard all year, Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) is the Swiss’ nearest rival in the standings. Eight points separate the two and with 25 up for grabs, this is a crucial round. Caricasulo has failed to take more than seven points out of Krummenacher in one go, something that he will need to fix during the last round. Three wins from 11 races and six other podiums, Caricasulo knows that he has a chance of victory this weekend; if he wins then Krummenacher must be second, but if Caricasulo is second, then Krummenacher must be somewhere else in the top four. It’s that simple.

WSBK Rnd Magny Cours WorldSSP Saturday Tissot Superpole Action Cluzel
Jules Cluzel

Against the odds, Jules Cluzel comes into the Motul Qatar Round with an outside hope of the title. 22 points back of Krummenacher, Cluzel must win to even stand a chance. Should he win, then Krummenacher must be 14th or lower and Federico Caricasulo outside the top four in the race. It’s unlikely, but just two rounds ago, both BARDAHL Yamaha riders crashed out. Cluzel hasn’t taken back-to-back wins in the class since Assen and Imola in 2018 and besides his title rivals, five other riders have outshone Cluzel on their day in 2019. He can still win however, and that is what counts. Expect the unexpected.

WSBK Rnd Jerez Sat Mahias CQ
Lucas Mahias – Jerez WorldSBK 2019

Out of the top three and with no mathematical chance of the Championship, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) heads to Losail with a new contract in his pocket for 2020; Remaining with the Puccetti outfit for 2020. Out of all the riders on the grid, Mahias has scored more points than anyone in the last six races and has been on the podium in the last five – the first time in his career that he’s achieved five consecutive podiums. A winner in Qatar in the last two seasons, Mahias could be the spoiler in the title race in 2019.

Hikari Okubo
Hikari Okubo

Mahias’ teammate Hikari Okubo has been one of just three riders to score points in every race this year, but he was somewhat out of position in Argentina. The 26-year-old Japanese star was down in 12th in the race, only his second finish outside the top ten all year. Heading to Losail, Okubo reaches a circuit that he’s failed to finish at in the last two seasons. But don’t count him out; Okubo needs a strong performance in the final race of the season to secure a 2020 ride. Could that elusive podium finally come his way?

Completing the top six in the standings is Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), who is still without a WorldSSP win. He featured strongly at the end of the race in Argentina to finish in sixth place, meaning he is now just five points behind Okubo in the standings. Yet to feature inside the top ten at Losail, De Rosa knows that a strong result over Okubo could give him a best end-of-season finish – fifth overall. Can the 32-year-old Italian deliver?

WorldSBK POR DWO Test Day WorldSSP FP Action De Rosa
Raffaele De Rosa

Outside of the top six, there’s plenty of riders to keep an eye on. Recent rounds has seen Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) on the podium and looking strong, whilst pole-sitter in Argentina Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) will be eager to achieve his first rostrum of his WorldSSP career. Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) is eager to recapture his early season form, with Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) seeking the continuation of his top ten streak. Just behind him overall is the best Honda of Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), who could beat Badovini to the top ten overall.

World Supersport Standings

Pos Rider Points
1 Randy Krummenacher 202
2 Federico Caricasulo 194
3 Jules Cluzel 180
4 Lucas Mahias 143
5 Hikari Okubo 97
6 Raffaele De Rosa 92
7 Thomas Gradinger 86
8 Isaac Vinales 81
9 Corentin Perolari 81
10 Ayrton Badovini 59
11 Peter Sebestyen 54
12 Loris Cresson 41
13 Jules Danilo 36
14 Hannes Soomer 34
15 Kyle Smith 24
16 Hector Barbera 22
17 Federico Fuligni 13
18 Lorenzo Gabellini 10
19 Jack Kennedy 9
20 Glenn Van Straalen 9
21 Rob Hartog 9
22 Jaimie Van Sikkelerus 9
23 Kevin Manfredi 8
24 Brad Jones 7
25 Miquel Pons 6
26 Massimo Roccoli 6
27 Tom Toparis 5
28 Christian Stange 5
29 Maria Herrera 5
30 Gabriele Ruiu 4
31 Luca Ottaviani 4
32 Daniel Valle 3
33 Xavier Navand 1
34 Mattia Casadei 1

WorldSSP300

Losail to light-up remaining battles in WorldSSP300

The season finale of the World Supersport 300 Championship is approaching, as the class takes on its first visit outside of Europe to the Motul Qatar Round. The Losail International Circuit should lend itself perfectly to the WorldSSP300 field, with fast and flowing corners and a 1068m front straight. The Champion has already been crowned with Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) taking WorldSSP300 honours, but the battle behind him for second place is raging, with three riders in mathematic contention for runner-up spot in 2019.

WSBK Rnd France Magny Cours Sun WorldSSP Race Gonzales
Manuel González

It has been a stunning season for Manuel Gonzalez, having romped clear at the head of the field and wrapped the Championship up with a round to spare, making him the youngest ever FIM Road Racing World Champion. Like most of the WorldSSP300 class, it is the first visit to Losail for Gonzalez, and he will be out to reinforce the fact that he is Champion for a reason. He could be the first WorldSSP300 rider in history to achieve four race wins in one year.

WSBK Rnd France Magny Cours Sun Manuel Gonzalez
Manuel Gonzalez

The battle for second is the focus point and former Moto3 stars Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) and Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) have an advantage over Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), having been to the circuit before. However, back then, neither were able to score points, so it is more of a level playing field than it could’ve been. With both Deroue and Carrasco winning at Portimao and Magny-Cours respectively, the pressure is certainly on Verdoïa, who hasn’t been on the podium since Donington Park in July.

WSBK Rnd Portimao SSP Deroue
Scott Deroue

Mathematically, fourth is still possible for Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) but he is 20 points away. Moreover, he is leading the battle for the final position inside the top five in the standings. The Dutch rider’s consistency has seen him finish in the points in every single race this year, although his nearest rival is right behind him. Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) is just one point behind Steeman, whilst seven points further back is Steeman’s teammate, Jan-Ole Jahnig, who was last on the podium at Assen.

There is then a six-point gap which sees Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) occupy eighth place, just 14 points from Steeman in fifth. He will be joined in the team this weekend by fellow Indonesian rider, Muhammad Faerozi. Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) is in the battle for fifth overall too, although he is 22 points behind Steeman. He is joint on points with an in-form Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki), with the Ukrainian rider completing the top ten. Fifth to tenth have a mathematical chance of the top five, but all eyes are on Steeman, Garcia and Jahnig.

Nick Kalinin

Other riders who are going to be eager to fight their way into the top ten overall include Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), who was victorious in dramatic fashion at Donington Park. The top Italian in the Championship lies 11th overall and with a strong result in Qatar, could break into the top ten placings. Fellow countryman Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) is still in search of his first podium and having been inside the top ten until Donington Park, he will be eager to make it back into those positions.

Making his debut in Qatar, as well as Muhammad Faerozi, will be Dallas Daniels, who is one of the next stars coming from the United States. At just 16, he has been a race winner in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup in MotoAmerica, on his way to finishing third. There is one other rider swap and that is Oliver König (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), who replaces Koen Meuffels – the former race winner parted ways with the team ahead of Portimao.

Tom Edwards is the sole Australian entrant at the event across all categories, and will be hoping to make his mark and sign off season 2019 with a good result. 

World Supersport 300 Standings

Pos Rider Points
1 Manuel Gonzalez 148
2 Ana Carrasco 106
3 Scott Deroue 106
4 Andy Verdoïa 89
5 Victor Steeman 69
6 Marc Garcia 68
7 Jan-Ole Jahnig 61
8 Galang Hendra Pratama 55
9 Hugo De Cancellis 47
10 Nick Kalinin 47
11 Kevin Sabatucci 39
12 Bruno Ieraci 30
13 Jeffrey Buis 21
14 Omar Bonoli 19
15 Koen Meuffels 16
16 Maximilian Kappler 16
17 Manuel Bastianelli 14
18 Tom Edwards 14
19 Beatriz Neila 12
20 Samuel Di Sora 11
21 Enzo De La Vega 11
22 Livio Loi 10
23 Dion Otten 10
24 Emanuele Vocino 10
25 Mika Perez 10
26 Dino Iozzo 10
27 Oliver König 9
28 Robert Schotman 9
29 Mateo Pedeneau 8
30 Tom Bramich 6
31 Ferran Hernandez Moyano 6
32 Unai Orradre 6
33 Ton Kawakami 4
34 Joel Damon Kelso 4
35 Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez 4
36 Dorren Loureiro 4
37 Paolo Giacomini 3
38 Filippo Rovelli 3
39 Borja Sanchez 2
40 Francisco Gomez 2
41 Yuta Okaya 1

AEDT Schedule

Time Class Session
23:15 WorldSSP300 FP1A
00:00 WorldSSP FP1
01:00 WorldSBK FP1
02:15 WorldSSP300 FP2A
03:00 WorldSSP FP2
04:00 WorldSBK FP2
Time Class Session
23:00 WSBK FP3
23:35 WorldSSP FP3
00:10 WorldSSP300 FP3A
01:30 WSBK Superpole 
02:10 WorldSSP Superpole 
02:50 WorldSSP300 Superpole A
04:00 WSBK Race 1
Time Class Session
22:00 WSBK WUP
22:25 WorldSSP300 WUP
22:50 WorldSSP WUP
00:00 WorldSBK Superpole Race
01:15 WorldSSP300 Race
02:15 WorldSSP Race
04:00 WorldSBK Race 2
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