Floodlit Finale For Rea And Haslam
Five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea and his KRT team-mate Leon Haslam will compete for the final time in the 2019 season on their official Ninja ZX-10RRs, at the magnificently-appointed Losail International Circuit.
The 13th WorldSBK round of the season will get underway shortly, under a vast array of floodlights that illuminate the relatively long 5.380km long Losail International Circuit, turning the desert night into virtual daytime for the riders.
Both Rea and Haslam have happy memories of the circuit, with Rea winning there three times in total and Haslam securing a race victory at the end of the 2015 season.
Rea is a particular fan of the entire race weekend in Qatar but in addition to his own unquenchable competitive spirit he is keenly aware that there is important on-track work still to do to ensure Kawasaki wins the 2019 Manufacturers’ Award.
For 2018 BSB Champion Haslam Losail will be his final race for the KRT WorldSBK squad and he intends to finish his year on a high. He is currently sixth on the championship rankings, with six podiums to his name and a strong desire to increase that total before the end of the campaign.
Rea became the Riders’ Champion once more at Magny Cours and the KRT squad won the Teams’ Award in Argentina last time out. Kawasaki has a healthy lead of 37 points in the manufacturers’ standings, but with a possible 62 points for any bike producer that wins all three races in Losail, there is still a lot at stake – for riders, teams and manufacturers.
Losail, now the traditional host venue for the finale of each WorldSBK season, is unique in two significant ways. One is the unmissable spectacle of a floodlit race in the middle of the desert terrain. The other is that the races will take place on Friday and Saturday, with the first Free Practice day being Thursday 24th of October.
Tissot-Superpole qualifying will precede a full-distance Race One on Friday, with the ten-lap Tissot-Superpole race being held before the season-ending Race Two on Saturday. The two 17-lap WorldSBK races will take place at 20.00, local time, each day.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I can’t believe it’s the end of another season. While we were able to achieve the target we set at the beginning of the year at the Magny Cours round, there is still a lot to play for going into this weekend. We are trying to bring home the manufacturers’ title for Kawasaki. It is nice to have these targets going into the weekend at a circuit that I really, really love. I love everything about the race. Riding under the lights is something really special because you feel at one with the bike as there are no external distractions in your line of sight. After an amazing weekend in Argentina, where I felt really competitive with the bike and we worked really well as a team in the limited practice time, that will be the same target in Qatar. To work really well together to maximise the potential of the Ninja ZX-10RR. Our goal is simple – to go out and win some races and end the season on a high. It has been a real dream season and I am really looking forward to the Losail race weekend. Can’t wait to get there.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “I managed to do a wildcard race here a few years ago with the Pedercini Kawasaki team and I had a top five result. That was quite nice, especially with the level we arrived there at. Last time I was here in the full-time WorldSBK championship was in 2015, and I won the last race. So good memories! I think the long straight is going to be a little bit of a factor with a few of the bikes but I really enjoy the layout – and it is always nice racing at night. I am looking to finish the season strongly.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) has already reached the status of top Independent Rider in 2019, and now has his target set as finishing third in the championship. Only six points away from the rider currently in third place, Toprak is intent on keeping his remarkable eight round podium run intact in all three Losail races to achieve his new season-ending goal.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) moved into the top ten after his most recent races in Argentina, and intends staying there. His lone WorldSBK race win took place at Losail in 2015, providing a happy memory for him as he approaches the final weekend of the current season.
Strong midfield rides for Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) at his home circuit of Villicum last weekend saw him up to 14th overall, as the dazzling floodlights now approach before another race season fades into the history books.