Courtesy of KRT – Kawasaki Racing Team
As is now tradition, the FIM Superbike World Championship season finale will be held under the dark desert skies and floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. With Jonathan Rea the new and three time WorldSBK champion, and with Kawasaki and KRT winning the Manufacturers’ and Teams’ championships respectively, the immediate focus is for 2013 World Champion Tom Sykes to secure second place in the final points table.
The drama of the final 2017 weekend in what has been an outstanding season for Kawasaki is always magnified under the vast array of artificial lighting rigs that turn the desert night into brilliant day at the 5.380km circuit near the Qatari capital, Doha.
Having won a historic third title in succession recently, the final challenges for Rea are two-fold. To take his first race win at Losail and then go for a second full point score in race two. Should he manage to take away a perfect 50 points this weekend he would set a new all-time points scoring record in WorldSBK.
Rea is also keen to win this weekend to score more race victories in one season than he has managed in any previous season. He is currently on a total of 14 race wins in 2017, equalling the tally he set in taking his first championship with KRT in 2015.
Injured at the Portimao round in September Sykes is looking to ensure he scores enough points to finish second in the championship table. He is currently tied on the same total as Chaz Davies, with his fellow Briton above him in the official standings as he has more race wins to his credit in 2017.
A Kawasaki 1-2 in the Riders’ championship would be the perfect end to an almost perfect season, with the Ninja ZX-10RR proving to be the package to beat in the first year of its ‘RR’ model designation.
In another new initiative for 2017, the series organisers will hold the Losail races on Friday and Saturday, 3rd and 4th November, not the more traditional Saturday and Sunday. This move is designed to make it easier for the local fans to join in the celebratory atmosphere of the championship finale. Action on track first gets underway with FP1 and FP2 on Thursday 2nd November.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “Reflecting on Jerez last time out it was an amazing weekend. It has always been a good circuit for us during the winter tests but this year we managed to be really strong all weekend in the races. This has given us good momentum to take into Qatar. This is the last round and I want to finish well. I enjoy the atmosphere there as it is a chilled out paddock and the night time race adds a bit of excitement between the riders and teams. The layout suits me and there are a lot of high speed corners there. It is important to maximise the grip as the track is in the middle of the desert and early in the weekend there is not so much rubber down. So we need to pay attention to that. I want to keep an eye on the long game and finish the season strong. Whatever happens, I think we can be satisfied with the job this year.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “This is the final round of the year and the season has passed by almost without realising it in some ways. My hand is feeling better than it did in Jerez where all those many changes of direction meant things were not ideal. I was still not fully myself at Jerez but I am looking forward to the last races. Losail is a lovely venue and I really enjoy riding at night under the lights. I also enjoy the general layout and the weekend timetable. In the final round we will try to get the bike settings to suit my riding style in the best way possible. I have gone quite a way to try and change my riding style to suit the changes that came in this year. In Qatar we will see if we can get the bike set-up to do the rest. Right now we’re working toward making sure we take the runner up slot in the final championship standings.”
2017 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016 & 2017
2017: Races 24, Wins 14, Podiums 22, Superpoles 5
Career Race Wins: 52 (37 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 110 (68 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 13 (9 For Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2017: Races: 22, Wins 2, Podiums 16, Superpoles 4
Career Race Wins: 33 (33 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 100 (99 For Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 42 (42 For Kawasaki)
5 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016 & 2017), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
3 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017)
3 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016 & 2017)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 107 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 346 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 72 – second overall