Under the lights that illuminate the Losail International Circuit at Doha, the setting for the last round of the WSBK season, Northern Irish rider, Jonathan Rea of the Kawasaki Racing Team was crowned FIM Superbike World Champion today for the second consecutive year.
The twenty-nine year-old, who finished second in Race One behind Ducati rider Chaz Davies, has been with the Kawasaki team since last year and, since his arrival, he has led the Akashi-based manufacturer in winning both the Manufacturers Title and the Riders Title.
It was a weekend with all to play for and Rea arrived at this last round with a 48-point advantage over his teammate, English rider Tom Sykes, who had to settle for fourth place in the race and second place in the Championship.
The action began with a sernsational Superpole ession, and Rea made it abundantly clear straight away that he was eager to end the battle for the championship title as soon as possible and, with a time of 1’56.356, not only did he take the best position on the starting grid, but he also broke the track record set by his teammate, Tom Sykes in 2015 by almost half a second.
In Race One, Rea secured the championship, the first rider since Carl Fogarty to successfully defend the title. Ducati’s Chaz Daviescontinued his blistering recent form and got off the line well, overtaking both the Northern Irishman and Honda’s Nicky Hayden to take the lead, with Tom Sykes languishing in fourth place, one ahead of Yamaha’s Sylvain Guintoli.
The top two positions would remain unvaried for the entire race, with Hayden, Sykes and Guintoli taking turns in third. In the end, the Frenchman had the upper hand and crossed the line behind the Welshman and the new 2016 World Champion.
Race Two saw Nicky Hayden forced to start from pit lane as he had already gone through all the engines allowed by the rules. Even before the start, the race had also already lost another potential protagonist, Ducati’s Davide Giugliano, who decided not to take part in Race 2 due to a physical problem.
At the start, Jonathan Rea started lightning fast from pole position, but by the end of the first lap, Chaz Davies had already overtaken him and, under pressure, he went wide on a turn, losing several positions.
Behind the Ducati rider, Tom Sykes gave chase ahead of Sylvain Guintoli and the race looked to be a re-run of Race One until Lap Seven when Al Sulaiti’s bike caught fire, forcing the marshals to red flag the race.
At the restart there were ten laps to race. Davies remained in the lead, followed once again by Tom Sykes in second and Pedercini Racing’s Leon Haslam in third. Before the end of the second lap, however, the latter had already yielded his position to Jonathan Rea.
During the fourth lap, Rea began to be a threat to his teammate, Tom Sykes, overtaking him a lap later to move into second place. This pass temporarily clinched second place in the final overall Championship standings for Chaz Davies.
However Rea, played the team game and slowed on the last lap, allowing Sykes to pass and thus secure second in the overall standings. It was a gesture which no one saw coming, especially considering the open animosity between the two, and reaffirmed Rea’s position as the consummate professional.
Thus the race win and a well-deserved third place in the Rider World Championship went to Chaz Davies, finishing first to bring home a double win for Ducati, the fifth this year, after a surprising season finale with no less than seven consecutive wins.