The final of the 2019 World Superbike Championship wrapped up in Qatar with the big question on everyone’s lips answered as Randy Krummenacher took the World Supersport Championship title for Yamaha.
In World Superbikes already crowned World Champion Jonathan Rea took no prisoners, winning all three races of the weekend and relegating the Ducati and Yamaha riders to the lower steps of the podium. After taking pole position and winning Race 1 on Friday, Saturday saw the Northern Irishman make no mistakes and triumph in both the Tissot Superpole Race and in Race 2.
It was his second win of the WorldSSP300 season for Dutchman Scott Deroue while newly crowned World Champion Manuel Gonzalez finished fourth.
In the Tissot Superpole Race, Jonathan Rea took his second victory of the weekend. Starting from pole position, the Northern Irishman maintained the race lead from flag to flag ahead of Spaniard Álvaro Bautista who, after overtaking Alex Lowes on the second lap, maintained second for the rest of the race.
The third step of the podium went to Yamaha rider Alex Lowes, who managed to stay ahead of the other Kawasaki rider, Leon Haslam.
Michael Van Der Mark, Loris Baz and Chaz Davies each took a turn in fifth, but at the end of the day it was the Welshman who came out on top.
In Race 2, reigning Rea got off the line well when the red lights went out, but Bautista was aggressive straight away, trying to make life difficult for the Northern Irishman from the first lap.
The champion and runner-up set an unsustainable race pace for the group of followers, led by the other Ducati rider, Chaz Davies, who did the race fast lap on the fourth lap.
On the eighth lap, Rea, Bautista and Davies were within just over half a second of one another, forming a compact leading trio.
Early in the tenth lap Bautista had a go at overtaking Rea on the finishing straight, but the Northern Irishman was able to fend off the Spaniard’s attack and in the meantime, Chaz Davies had closed the gap and caught up with his teammate.
In the final part of the race, Jonathan Rea managed to pull the pin and open up a gap ahead of the Ducati riders, taking his advantage to more than two seconds while Chaz Davies gained the upper hand against his teammate on the fourteenth lap, moving into second place.
Jonathan Rea finished first under the chequered flag for the third time over the weekend ahead of Chaz Davies and Álvaro Bautista.
Fourth place went to Alex Lowes with Toprak Razgatlioglu, fifth, finishing as the best independent team rider.
WorldSBK riders talk the season final
Jonathan Rea – P1 Overall
“Seventeen race wins this year and two triples – Donington and here – so this is special, super-special. I am really happy and content because to be honest we never expected to get beaten so bad in the beginning. Even in the middle of the season we knew we needed to enter these last two rounds with a gap in the championship to fight for it, but what we expected we didn’t find. I am really happy with the package of our bike because in these last two races, with the longest straights in the championship, and the fastest circuits, we have proved that you need more than a fast engine to win. I am super-proud of all my team. This weekend we changed the base set-up so many times, from Race One to Superpole to Race Two; you would not believe me is I told you what we did. We turned the bike upside down and each and every time we had some positives and negatives, so it just shows our bike is working inside a good window.”
Álvaro Bautista – P2 Overall
“Today was a positive day, because after the warm-up and before the Superpole race, we returned to the set-up we had on Friday. I immediately had a good feeling and the second place was important for the starting-grid in race 2. In the early stages I battled with Jonathan but unfortunately, about half-way through the race, I began to lose grip at the rear and I was struggling to stop the bike. In the end I couldn’t do anything about Chaz, but all things considered I’m happy, it’s always nice to finish the season on the podium. I’d like to thank Aruba and all the Ducati squad for doing a fantastic job this year. Unfortunately, the season didn’t go the way we hoped, but I’m very pleased to have begun my first year in Superbike with this team because they have so much experience in this championship and they helped me a lot. Thanks to everyone, I wish you all the best for next year.”
Alex Lowes – P3 Overall
“It was good to end the season with a strong weekend here in Qatar but, apart from one bad weekend in Jerez and the crash while leading in Misano, I’ve been up there in the top-six and really strong in every race. The target this year was to finish top-three in the championship; obviously everyone wants to be world champion, but you’ve got to improve on what you did the year before, keep learning, keep moving forward and this year was a good step forward for me. It’s a bittersweet end to the season because I’m leaving a team that has such a great atmosphere, with whom I get on really well and in which I feel a part of the family. It’s strange to be leaving both Crescent and Yamaha, we’ll all face new challenges next season, but tonight I’m going to enjoy it, together with the guys who’ve worked so hard for me and helped me achieve my goal this season.”
Michael van der Mark – P4 Overall
“We made some changes to the set up ahead of Race 2 this evening and I felt a lot better at the beginning compared to the Superpole race in the afternoon. Unfortunately, once the tyres started to drop off then I struggled like before. I tried everything to stay in front of Alex, but it just wasn’t possible because I was struggling with the grip so much. Anyway, I think if we look back on this season we should be satisfied. The Misano injury put us on the back foot, missing that whole event and then riding injured at the following two rounds, but we never gave up and we never stopped trying. To finish fourth in the championship isn’t what we were looking for but, given the obstacles we’ve faced this season, it’s still pretty incredible. Big credit to the team and to Yamaha, unfortunately this wasn’t our weekend but I’m confident we’ll be back stronger next year.”
Chaz Davies – P6 Overall
“It’s been a strong end to the season for me and I’m really happy to finish on the podium again. I felt like I put together another good race this evening after a bad start, but it was good fun to battle with the others in the early laps. I got into a good pace and started charging towards the guys up front. After I passed Álvaro, it was quite easy to follow Johnny but then when I pushed a bit more, I was in trouble with the front tyre. All in all, it was a good finish to 2019 and I can’t wait for 2020 to start”.
It was a positive debut season for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK team, claiming four podiums, one pole position and numerous top six finishes. Sykes finished the season eighth in the riders’ standings on 223 points, while Reiterberger claimed 14th place overall.
Tom Sykes – P8 Overall
“It’s not the way I would have liked to end the season given the results that we have had previously. We have arrived at a circuit where you are in the corner for a long time which is an area on the bike that we need to work on, so overall a very disappointing weekend to end 2019. On the whole, the new project finishing eighth in the championship is relatively good considering there are six factory bikes from different manufacturers with a lot more experience. We have had some very strong showings, we have shown the potential of the BMW S 1000 RR and the relationship with the new team has worked well. Going into the winter I would like to think that the information the team gathered can be put into development and ultimately a better starting point for next season.”