Rea takes Qatar double – Davies 2017 runner-up
2017 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) has made history securing the most points in one WorldSBK season, surpassing Colin Edwards’ record from 2002. Taking the double victory at the Acerbis Qatar Round, Rea finished the season with a massive 556 points – 153 points ahead of the second placed Chaz Davies.
The Northern Irishman dominated world superbike action in 2017 landing 16 victories and 24 podiums, six of these as doubles, and with his Kawasaki ZX-10RR being the first rider in history to take three consecutive WorldSBK titles.
The 30 year old’s debut victory in world supers came back in 2009 at Misano with Honda, with whom he secured 15 victories. He made the move to Kawasaki in 2015, and from then the wins flowed thick and fast – taking his 50th WorldSBK win in Magny Cours this year – the same race in which he won his third title.
Jonathan Rea, stated, “The points tally is nice but the championship is the main thing. To win 16 races in a season, more than 50 per cent of the races, is not normal. That’s the biggest thing I take away. This year, like I keep saying, I have no words. It has been feeling normal to be here on the podium and that is kind of scary. Right now is my time, so I really am enjoying the moment. Next year it could easily be somebody else so we really need to enjoy this and celebrate an incredible year. I know how difficult it is when things are not coming naturally, and it is an uphill struggle, so that is why I am so grateful to Kawasaki for this opportunity. It is a huge team effort. In a few weeks’ time we can start turning our attention to 2018.”
Only finishing off the podium twice in 2017, Rea has had a stunningly consistent season with only two DNF’s in 13 Rounds. Heading into the Acerbis Qatar Round with no pressure, Rea put in a stunning performance to take his first victory under the floodlights whilst he did the double on Saturday – breaking the lap record in the process.
WorldSBK Race 2: Rea signs off fantastic season with Losail victory
The final race of the 2017 season at the Acerbis Qatar Round on Saturday night brought another win for Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) as he crossed the line just under two seconds ahead of Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati), with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in third. The victory gives Rea the record of most points in a single WorldSBK season (556 points), beating the previous record set by Colin Edwards in 2002, as the Northern Irishman ends the year with 16 victories and 24 podiums in 2017.
Davies made an incredible start as he shot from eighth on the grid to first within the first two corners, but Rea soon took control of the race on lap four and he did not look back from there.
With 14 laps to go Welshman Davies survived a big wobble – with perhaps the biggest save of the season – holding his nerve to continue on the pace and ultimately wrap up second place in the race and second place in the final championship standings.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati #7) – 2nd, “We sealed second position in the championship, which was our goal going into this round, so I’m very happy. It’s been another tough race. I probably made the best start of my career, then got my head down while keeping an eye on Sykes’ position. I nearly crashed at turn 5, it felt like a rodeo but we hung on to it. Once I saw Sykes was out, I just tried to control the gap as second place was the best we could do today. Thanks to Ducati and Aruba.it for another exciting season, I’m looking forward to 2018.”
Lowes got the better of his Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team colleague Michael van der Mark in the second half of the race and finally finished 1.658s ahead of the Dutchman.
Alex Lowes, Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team – 3rd, “Yesterday’s race was really hard to take for me because, honestly, I felt really good all weekend and I just made a mistake in the last corner when trying to challenge Chaz Davies. Unfortunately, it was a little mistake that had a big consequence. It was hard mentally to come back today and push hard as I knew starting from tenth was going to be difficult. In the first six laps, I didn’t feel as good on the bike as I hoped to. I was losing time to the riders in front but then I felt really strong and I was coming forward all the time and was able to match the leaders’ pace. It is fantastic to get a podium after the crash yesterday; the team and Yamaha fully deserve it and I am happy to end the season like this and go into the winter break with a smile on my face and motivated next year to fight the top guys at every race!!”
Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) ended the season on a high in fifth place, whilst Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) was 5.688s behind the Spaniard in sixth place. Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) beat Sylvain Guintoli (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) to seventh by less than half a second, overcoming the Frenchman on the last lap.
Leon Camier completed his last race with MV Agusta Reparto Corse in ninth place just ahead of Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven).
A huge crash for Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) at Turn 5 in the early running meant his last race with BMW ended in the gravel, the Spanish rider seen bravely walking away after the massive highside. On the third lap Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) crashed out of third place at turn 14, ending his hopes of challenging Davies for the championship runner-up spot.
Davide Giugliano (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) was declared unfit due to gastroenteritis and therefore the unwell Italian missed out on the last race of the year.
The WorldSBK riders will be back in action at the first round of the 2018 season at the Yamaha Finance round at Australia’s Phillip Island next February 23-25.
WorldSBK 2017 Qatar Race 2 results
- Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki
- Chaz Davies – Ducati
- Alex Lowes – Yamaha
2017 WorldSBK Final Championship Points
- Jonathan Rea – Kawasaki 556 points
- Chaz Davies – Ducati 403 points
- Tom Sykes- Kawasaki – 373 points
WorldSBK Race 1: Triple World Champion takes victory by just under five seconds from Davies
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) produced a masterclass in the Qatari desert on Friday night at the Losail International Circuit, getting away brilliantly from pole to dominate the penultimate race of season and eventually cross the finish line a clear 4.944s distance ahead of second placed Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati). The Race 1 podium at the Acerbis Qatar Round was completed by Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
Having set a new outright circuit record lap in Tissot Superpole 2 earlier in the evening, Rea pushed his Kawasaki ZX-10RR to the limits over the course of the 17-lap contest around the 5.380km Qatari track. He was untouchable at the front as he cruised away for his 15th win of a remarkable season.
Davies did his best to chase Rea down but would eventually finish a lonely second despite his best efforts – still a good result in his bid to secure the runner-up spot in the 2017 championship. His teammate Melandri crossed the finish line a further five seconds behind him.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) produced an excellent ride to fourth, missing out on the podium by under two seconds, whilst his colleague Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) was just behind him – completing the top five.
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team), Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), Sylvain Guintoli (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Roman Ramos (Team Kawasaki Go Eleven) rounded out the top ten.
In a drama-filled race there was cruel luck for Xavi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) who pulled off track with a technical issue when challenging for a strong podium finish with seven laps to go. Shortly afterwards Raffaele de Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) went down at turn 9 when riding in the top ten and then Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) crashed at the last corner of the lap when also in podium contention. Lowes picked up the Yamaha YZF R1 to go in search of valuable championship points but would crash again in the final stages.
Earlier in the race Michael van der Mark crashed at speed at turn 9 meaning it was a difficult day all round for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team.
WorldSBK 2017 Qatar Race 1 results
- Jonathan Rea Kawasaki
- Chaz Davies – Ducati
- Marco Melandri – Ducati
WorldSSP Mahias seals WorldSSP title
Westy fifth in Qatar, eighth overall
At World Supersport’s season-concluding Qatar round on Saturday evening an enthralling battle saw the title fight go right down to the last lap, as Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) clinched the crown with a narrow (0.023s) victory over his compatriot Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
Meanwhile, comeback hero Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) performed brilliantly to finish in third place, though it was just not enough for him to keep the title he has won on five previous occasions.
Mahias and Sofuoglu embraced during the post-race celebrations after a breathtaking contest at the Losail International Circuit.
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.
Kenan Sofuoglu, later said: “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.”
Australia’s 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.
Anthony West explained he was once again enjoying his racing, now with Kawasaki, following a tough two years, “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.
Aussie rider Lachlan Epis (Response RE Racing Kawasaki) was 29th in his second WorldSSP season
WorldSSP Race results
- Lucas Mahias – Yamaha
- Jules Cluzel – Honda
- Kenan Sofuoglu – Kawasaki
…5. Anthony West – Kawasaki
…18. Lachlan Epis – Kawasaki
…DNF G. Scarcella- Honda
WorldSSP Championship Points
- Lucas Mahias – Yamaha 165 points
- Kenan Sofuoglu – Kawasaki 145 points
- Jules Cluzel – Honda 135 points
WorldSBK returns in 2018 at Phillip Island
Nothing beats World Superbikes LIVE at the Island, with tickets on sale via Ticketek for the 2018 season opener next February 23-25*, at Australia’s motorcycling mecca, the thrilling Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
Action kicks off Friday morning (Feb 23) with the season’s unveil of the international categories of world superbike and world supersport, debuting new rider line ups and liveries in their first practice sessions for the championship.