#QATWorldSBK Losail, Saturday roundup: World Superbike, World Supersport, WorldSSP300
The final race of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship took place under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit for the Motul Qatar Round. After a season of last lap battles, new rivalries, record-shattering performances and triumphant successes, the final race of the season saw yet more phenomenal World Superbike action. Relentless as ever, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) battled hard to beat Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) in a race to remember in Qatar.
Powering off the line for the final time in 2019, Alvaro Bautista made the most of the Ducati power to lead the field to Turn 1, although the Spaniard went wide and allowed Jonathan Rea back ahead. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) slotted in behind them whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was right in the mix in fourth, with Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in fifth. It was a disaster for Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), who got Turn 1 all wrong and was plum last.
On Lap 2, it was all action and drama as Rea and Bautista began to battle between Turn 6 and 9, swapping paint and scything under one and other, whilst Alex Lowes was also getting in on the act. At Turn 15, van der Mark took third from Lowes but both ran wide, allowing Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) to come through from nowhere, whilst Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) also capitalised on the squabbles. Leon Haslam was a big loser in the battle and was down to seventh.
After the frantic action had calmed down on Lap 4, Bautista began to close down Jonathan Rea for first, whilst Chaz Davies was now up to third. Bautista and then Davies set the fastest lap of the race, with just over a second covering the leading trio and less than half-a-second covering Rea and Bautista. Meanwhile, van der Mark and Lowes had pulled away from Razgatlioglu.
With 13 laps to go, Bautista made a move on Rea at Turn 1 but ran wide, with Rea slicing back through. Two laps later and the 34-year-old Spaniard tried again, but the Kawasaki of Rea was too strong on the brakes. With the swapping and changing, Chaz Davies continued to edge closer and now, just 0.273s separated a tantalisingly close podium. Soon, the gloves were off, and Bautista hit the front on Lap 9 at Turn 1, but Rea fought back and barged his way down the inside at the Turn 6 hairpin. Davies was even closer now, and it was a three-way heavyweight fight.
With seven to go, and outside the top six, Razgatlioglu had dropped behind Haslam, whilst Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was riding strongly on his final appearance on the Ducati V4 R. Loris Baz had recovered well and was now inside the top ten in ninth place, lapping faster than everyone ahead of him up to Chaz Davies. Meanwhile, van der Mark got the better of Lowes for fourth at Turn 6, although Lowes still occupied third overall in the standings and fought back at Turn 1 a lap later.
Out front, Jonathan Rea had pulled away and left the duelling Ducatis of Bautista and Davies to fight it out. At Turn 15 with four laps to go, Davies made his move and got ahead of his teammate; the last time the two will be in the same team. It would be a critical moment, as the podium places wouldn’t change from that moment on, despite Bautista’s best efforts.
Across the line for the final time, Rea took a 17th win of the season with a thrilling victory, whilst Chaz Davies clung on for another second place, ahead of Bautista, who bows out of Ducati with a podium. Alex Lowes took fourth and was third overall in the standings, whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu stormed through in a last lap shuffle to take fifth, ahead of a scintillatingly fast Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) taking his best finish of the season. Van der Mark, Baz, Haslam and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) completed the top ten, whilst Cortese’s teammate, Marco Melandri, failed to score points in his final race in the Championship.
The final chapter of the 2019 World Supersport Championship beckoned and it was a vital WorldSSP race, with all three Championship contenders starting from the front row. 15 laps of all out action between the title contenders was on the horizon, and the stage was set for an incredible grand finale. Taking victory in an 80km tussle at Losail, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the winner but Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) took fifth, enough to become the first World Supersport Champion from Switzerland.
With the title on the line, the most anticipated race of the World Supersport season commenced, with the GMT94 YAMAHA duo of Jules Cluzel and Corentin Perolari hit the front, making lightning starts from third and fourth on the grid respectively. Randy Krummenacher hit third place, whilst Federico Caricasulo was only fifth, the top two in the Championship split by Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). At the end of Lap 1, Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) completed the top six.
The two BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team Yamahas of Krummenacher and Caricasulo began to lose positions. Mahias got ahead of Krummenacher at Turn 1, whilst Caricasulo was barged out the way by Viñales at Turn 6 and then by Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) at Turn 10. The Italian fought back at Turn 1 on Lap 3, although he couldn’t make it stick. Smith then went ahead of Krummenacher. Lap 3 concluded with Cluzel leading, whilst Caricasulo and Krummenacher were sixth and seventh respectively; the Italian slipstreaming ahead on the front straight.
The front four had escaped at the head of the field, with Cluzel leading Mahias, whilst Perolari made it a provisional all-French podium, whilst an in-form Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) had gone with them in fourth. Now into fifth place, Caricasulo began to edge clear of Smith and Krummenacher and chased down the leading quartet. However, as it stood, Krummenacher would still be Champion. Krummenacher made his way into sixth place down into Turn 1 on Lap 6.
On Lap 7, Caricasulo set the fastest lap of the race, whilst Isaac Viñales made a mess of Turn 1 and went wide from fourth. With the front four battling, Caricasulo and Krummenacher were edging nearer, making for a six-rider battle in prospect. At Turn 1 on Lap 8, Viñales pinched third from Perolari, whilst Lucas Mahias captured first place from Jules Cluzel at Turn 4. Come the end of the lap, Mahias had pulled out a 0.3s advantage, whilst the top six were covered by just under 2.5s.
Outside of the top six, Kyle Smith was occupying seventh, whilst Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) was in eighth place ahead of Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing).
Caricasulo made it to fourth at Turn 1 with four laps to go, putting Perolari in between himself and Krummenacher. However, that was still good enough for the Swiss to become Champion, although Perolari was disrupting the battle for both the title contenders, adding an extra spice to the closing stages of the race.
Lucas Mahias had broken clear at the front and took a third consecutive win at Losail, ahead of a valiant Jules Cluzel in second and Isaac Viñales in third – a third consecutive podium for the Spaniard. In the chasing Championship battle, Caricasulo was fourth whilst Randy Krummenacher was fifth, enough to give him the WorldSSP Championship in 2019. Corentin Perolari was sixth, being pipped on the run to the line by Krummenacher. Raffaele De Rosa made it to seventh ahead of Okubo, Smith and Badovini.
With the Championship already decided in the WorldSSP300 class, it was all for pride and glory at the Losail International Circuit, as the final round of the feeder class’ season got underway. Racing in a pack is always one of the main spectacles of World Supersport 300 and the Motul Qatar Round proved to be no exception. However, mastering the constant slipstream battle the best on the final lap, race victory went to Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) from the third row of the grid.
Blasting into action with lights out, Australian Tom Edwards (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) hit the front ahead of Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300), whilst Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) and Scott Deroue were right together, making for an interesting battle for second overall in the Championship. However, a collision towards the end of the lap with Ieraci at Turn 13 saw her drop back to eighth.
However, the 2018 WorldSSP300 Champion was not out of race-winning contention, as she hit the front on Lap 3, just a lap after setting the fastest lap of the race. However, her main title adversary, Scott Deroue, was up in third. 2019 Champion Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) was second and split the second and third in the Championship, whilst his teammate, Tom Edwards, had been dropped down to ninth. At the end of Lap 4, Carrasco led Gonzalez, Ieraci, Garcia and Deroue – the Dutchman getting picked off for third at the final corner. Koen Meuffels (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) completed the top six.
With five laps remaining, Deroue hit the front from Manuel Gonzalez, with the top seven riders all on Kawasaki machinery. At the back of the eight-rider group, it was Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) on a Yamaha. At the start of Lap 7, Koen Meuffels made his move to the front of the field, although it was short-lived with Ana Carrasco responding at Turn 4.
With the penultimate lap upon the WorldSSP300 class, Scott Deroue was back in the lead of the race, taking it from Ana Carrasco at Turn 12 with three laps to go. The last 10.6km would be a thrilling spectacle, as Bruno Ieraci now made his way to the front, soon being passed by Meuffels and Deroue, with a Dutch 1-2 now looking a real possibility. Carrasco was down in fourth, meaning that provisionally, Deroue would be second in the Championship.
Last lap time and 2018 MotorLand Aragon race winner Koen Meuffels was leading the way and had a small gap to those behind him, with the second place in the Championship about to be decided. In the final half a lap, Deroue closed in on his teammate Meuffels and on the run to the line, Deroue nabbed the victory by just 0.010 from Meuffels, making it a Kawasaki MOTOPORT 1-2.
Bruno Ieraci, Gonzalez and Carrasco were right in behind, with Ieraci taking his career first podium, whilst Tom Edwards was a solid sixth. This result meant that Deroue took second in the title ahead of Carrasco, whilst Gonzalez was already confirmed as Champion in France. Hendra Pratama was seventh as Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) crashed out on the final lap. Andy Verdoïa (BDC Yamaha MS Racing) was ahead of Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) and Jeffrey Buis (MTM Racing Team).