WSBK: Teams all set for the first ever night race in Qatar season finale
Weds, 29th October 2014 – The final round of the 2014 eni FIM Superbike World Champion takes place this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar. For the first time in WSBK history, the event will be held under floodlights thanks to the impressive lighting system that powers the entire venue, allowing riders to race under conditions that are similar to daylight.
The Qatari circuit makes its return to the WSBK calendar after a four years absence to host the series for the sixth time. The previous round held on the shores of the Persian Gulf back in 2009 saw Ben Spies take a double victory (and pole position) in what was then the second racing weekend of the 2009 Championship. The American went on to overcome a 10 point deficit to Noriyuki Haga in the final round to take the title in great fashion.
A slightly bigger gap separates this year’s title contenders coming into the season finale as reigning Champion Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) leads the standings with a 12 point margin over Sylvain Guintoli (Aprilia Racing Team). Both riders have previously raced at Losail with Guintoli being the more experienced of the two at this track, having raced there five times before, including one race at night in 2008 in the MotoGP class where he was 15th at the flag.
Reigning champion Sykes raced on the 5.380km, technical and flowing circuit back in 2009, in what was his rookie World Superbike season. Moving off from the second row of the grid, he was 7th and 5th in the two encounters.
While the two title contenders will square off for the final battle, third place in the standings is also at stake. Marco Melandri (Aprilia Racing Team), who has won four of the last six races, is aiming to keep up the momentum to finish the season on the highest possible note. He is trailed by Jonathan Rea (Pata Honda World Superbike), who is 11 points behind Melandri in fourth and by Loris Baz (Kawasaki Racing Team), currently fifth and 19 points adrift of 3rd place.
Toni Elias (Red Devils Roma Aprilia) is the World Superbike rider with the most experience in racing under floodlights at Losail, having contested the night version of the Qatari Grand Prix from the first running in 2008 up to and including last year.
This will be the last chance of the 2014 season for both Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies (Ducati Superbike Team) to take a first win aboard their 1199 Panigale R machines. The two riders, who share a total of six podiums this year, will do their best to make this happen before focusing on next season, which will see them racing together again in “Ducati red” colours.
Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes will contest their last event as team mates at Voltcom Crescent Suzuki, with the goal of returning onto the podium before the season draws to a close. With Lowes officially confirmed for another season with the English team, Laverty is looking to conclude his racing year the same way it started off for him with victory before switching series in 2015. Back in 2009 the Irishman took his maiden World Supersport win in Qatar.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse and Team Hero EBR will give their all for an encouraging result in the last event of the year, hoping to gain some positives after a challenging rookie season in the series.
David Salom (Kawasaki Racing Team) enters the season finale as the firm favourite to win the first ever EVO title given the 30 point advantage he has on Niccolò Canepa (Team Althea Racing Ducati). Many riders including Frenchmen Sylvain Barrier (BMW Motorrad Italia) and Jeremy Guarnoni (MRS Kawasaki), as well as South African Sheridan Morais (Iron Brain Grillini Kawasaki) will hope to end their season on a high. Australian Alex Cudlin will replace the still injured Luca Scassa at Team Pedercini Kawasaki. The 28 year old from Sydney has vast experience of Losail, having been a regular in the Qatar Superbike Championship where he is a four time champion.
Standings (Round 11 of 12): 1. Sykes 378; 2. Guintoli 366; 3. Melandri 312; 4. Rea 301; 5. Baz 282; 6. Davies 195; 7. Haslam 176; 8. Giugliano 162; 9. Laverty 154; 10. Elias 151; 11. Lowes 126; 12. Salom 95; 13. Canepa 65; 14. Guarnoni 45; 15. Barrier 38; 16. Camier 37; 17. Corti 25; 18. Morais 24; 19. Andreozzi 21; 20. Foret 20; 21. Lanzi 19; 22. Neukirchner 17; 23. Scassa 16; 24. Staring 14; 25. Rizmayer 7; 26. Allerton 6; 27. Bos 5; 28. Toth 5; 29. Goi 5; 30. Russo 5; 31. Pegram 2; 32. Fabrizio 2; 33. Lanusse 1. Manufacturers: 1. Aprilia 418; 2. Kawasaki 395; 3. Honda 317; 4. Ducati 269; 5. Suzuki 220; 6. BMW 79; 7. MV Agusta 32; 8. EBR 2.
The FIM Supersport World Championship competitors will be back in action this weekend for their final outing of the year at the Losail International Circuit. With the title already secured by Michael van der Mark (Pata Honda World Supersport) at Jerez, the battle for the runner-up spot sees Frenchman Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) twelve points ahead of compatriot Florian Marino (Intermoto Ponyexpres Kawasaki).
Cluzel has good Qatari memories, having stepped onto the rostrum twice in his GP years, both times under floodlights: in 2009 he was second in the 250cc race (maiden Grand Prix podium finish), whilst the following year he finished the Moto2 encounter in third place.
After signing a deal to contest the 2015 season in WSS with Team San Carlo Puccetti Racing Kawasaki, three time World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu will line up once again as wildcard with the Italian squad, hoping to end his rollercoaster year with a strong result. At the Losail International Circuit, the 30 year old Turk scored the first of his 60 World Supersport podium finishes back in 2006.
This round will present a crucial opportunity for many riders to improve their chances of finding a competitive ride for next year and with the Qatari venue being new for the majority of the field we could see some new faces at the sharp end.
Newly crowned FIM Europe Superstock 600 Champion Marco Faccani will replace Alessandro Nocco to make his 2014 World Supersport debut with the San Carlo Puccetti Racing Team.
Another rising star, Lucas Mahias, will hit the Qatari track this weekend joining regular riders Kev Coghlan and Alexey Ivanov in the DMC-Panavto Yamaha Team.
Raffaele De Rosa makes his return to Team Lorini Honda to race the CBR600RR alongside fellow Italian Luca Marconi, while Colombian rider Martin Cardenas will compete in his second consecutive race with the CIA Insurance Honda Team.
Standings (Round 10 of 11): 1. vd Mark 205; 2. Cluzel 132; 3. Marino 120; 4. Zanetti 103; 5. Coghlan 98; 6. Jacobsen 95; 7. Rolfo 87; 8. Sofuoglu 86; 9. De Rosa 67; 10. Tamburini 63; 11. Kennedy 56; 12. Wilairot 50; 13. Bussolotti 30; 14. Nocco 27; 15. Wahr 26; 16. Russo 25; 17. Gamarino 25; 18. Menghi 20; 19. Leonov 19; 20. Schmitter 14; etc. Manufacturers: 1. Honda 226; 2. Kawasaki 171; 3. MV Agusta 146; 4. Yamaha 108; 5. Triumph 9.