Rea tops race 1 at Losail Circuit
04 Nov 2017 - 0:00
World champion Jonathan Rea last night produced amazing speed and form to seal race 1 of the final round of the 2017 WorldSBK Championship.
With riders jostling for a promising finish ahead of today’s night race 2 at the Losail International Circuit (LIC), Rea of Kawasaki Racing Team seemed unstoppable under artificial light. The current world champion clocked a time of 33.41.021.
The 30-year-old from Northern Ireland, who was yet to win a race in Qatar, finished ahead British rider Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) and his stablemate from Italy Marco Melandri. Davies was 4.944 seconds slower than the time set by Rea.
Melandri, who produced a time of 1’58.414 on his fastest lap, finished 10.405 seconds behind Rea.
Irish rider Eugene Laverty (Aprilia RSV4 RF) finished in fourth spot 12.052 seconds behind Rea while Italy’s Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia RSV4 RF) completed the top five. Savadori was 12.339 slower than the day’s fastest rider.
A total of six riders did not finish race 1 including Britain’s Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team).
Earlier, French star and SuperSport title contender Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) secured the best seat in the house grabbing the superpole ahead of compatriot Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Niki Tuuli (Kallio Racing) of Finland.
Cluzel and Tuulli will also start today’s final race of the season from the front row at the Losail International Circuit. Mahias goes into the final race of the season today with a 20-point advantage at the top of the overall standings.
Mahias produced a new lap record time of 2’00.738, which was just 0.546s faster than the time of Cluzel. Tuuli emerged as the third fastest rider on the grid, just 0.654s off the pace set by Mahias.
Defending World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) also impressed last night with his fourth-fastest time despite barely recovering from fractures to his pelvis at the French round of the Championship just over a month ago.
Sofuoglu is riding through the pain barrier during this final weekend of the season and is receiving medical checkups after each session as he bids to prevent Mahias from taking his crown.
PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) and Sheridan Morais (Kallio Racing) should be amongst the front runners in the race, getting away just behind Sofuoglu on row two.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team), Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini) are all on row three despite a crash in SP2 for Smith.
Michael Canducci (Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI), Christian Gamarino (BARDAHL EVAN BROS. Honda Racing) and Anthony West (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) all qualified on row four.
Two of WorldSSP’s best known riders had come through the earlier Tissot Superpole 1 with Jacobsen leading that session courtesy of a 2’01.757 lap, with South African Morais following the American through to SP2 0.038s behind him.
In a pleasing performance for home racing fans, Qatar’s Saeed Al Sulati was 18th fastest with his Kawasaki ZX-6R in SuperSport class, while his QMMF Racing Team rider Mashel Al Naimi finished in 22nd position.