The penultimate Race of the 2016 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship got off to a shining start under the stars and floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) won the race in dominant style with a 3.9-second margin over the newly crowned 2016 World Champion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team). The Northern Irishman wrapped up his second consecutive title with a stunning second place finish at the desert circuit and now joins the ranks of Carl Fogarty, Fred Merkel and Doug Polen as a consecutive WorldSBK Championship winner.
Davies got off to a flying start, leading into the first corner with Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) overtaking Rea on entry to turn 1. Rea was quick to fight back and retook his position in second, with his sights set on Davies in first. Championship contender Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) didn’t get his best start, after an uncharacteristically bad qualifying in fifth saw him only make up one place at the beginning of the race.
By lap 3, the struggling Yorkshireman was overtaken by Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) and dropped back to fifth as his title chances melted away as he fell behind. Guintoli’s incredible pace didn’t falter as he pushed ahead to hunt down Hayden who was sitting third and by lap 8 the Frenchman got into third, to settle into Yamaha’s maiden podium position finish.
Tom Sykes found pace a little too late in the race and overtook the Kentucky Kid on the closing laps to take fourth place with Hayden in fifth. Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) finished in sixth with Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) ending Race 1 in seventh.
Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) came home in eighth, ahead of Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team) in ninth. Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team) finished in tenth with Leon Haslam (Pedercini Racing) coming in close behind in 11th. Haslam had a great start, finishing the first lap in 11th from 16th on the grid and continued progressing to fight in top ten on the following lap, before finally dropping back again to his finishing position.
2016 STK1000 Cup Winner Raffaele De Rosa (Althea BMW Racing Team) had a positive second WorldSBK outing of the season with a P12 finish, while Alex De Angelis (IodaRacing Team) locked out P13. Roman Ramos (Team GOELEVEN) and Josh Brookes (Milwaukee BMW) picked up the last points in P14 and P15.
While Rea and Davies celebrate their wins on Saturday night, Sunday will be a new day and the final 25 points are up for grabs. Race 2 will see lights out at 21:00 local time (GMT+3) for the final showdown of the 2016 season.
Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) turned his Friday fortunes around to take pole position on Saturday for his first time, after graduating from Tissot-Superpole 1 earlier in the evening. The Brit finished 17th overall on Friday and was able to completely turn things around in the second session to secure the front row start.
Reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) qualified in second, while his teammate Randy Krummenacher finished in third, after having also set the fastest pace on Friday. The Swiss rider was the quickest of his rivals for the overall runner-up spot to qualify, giving him the advantage heading into the final race on Sunday.
With track temperatures at a prime 32 degrees at the beginning of the session, WorldSSP riders were able to set their fastest times in Superpole 2. Alex Baldolini (Race Department ATK#25) continued his good pace into Saturday evening and qualified fourth, ahead of last year’s Qatar winner, Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) in fifth.
2016 runner-up contender Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) qualified in sixth, ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in seventh, who graduated from Superpole 1 earlier in the evening. Ayrton Badovini (GEMAR Balloons – Team Lorini) will be starting Sunday’s race from eighth on the grid, while Honda World Supersport Team’s PJ Jacobsen will have to work hard on Sunday to catch his rivals, after he qualified in ninth.
Christoffer Bergman (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) finished the Superpole 2 session in tenth, while Kyle Ryde (Schmidt Racing) and Michael Canducci (GRT Racing Team) rounded out the top 12 positions on the grid respectively.
The stars of WorldSSP will be back on track for the ultimate Sunday clash on the 30th of October at 19:15 local time (GMT+3), where Krummenacher, Cluzel and Jacobsen will go wheel to wheel to finish the season in second overall.
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