Unstoppable Rea rules as Mahias grabs world title
05 Nov 2017 - 11:13
By Rizwan Rehmat / The Peninsula
World Champion Jonathan Rea last night produced his second successive win at the floodlit-Losail International Circuit (LIC) to wrap up the final round of the WorldSBK Championship with convincing back-to-back wins.
The Kawasaki rider, who started the second race of the final round from 9th spot on the grid, weaved his way through a clutch of riders to seal his 16th win of the season.
The 30-year-old, who arrived in Qatar seeking his first career win at LIC, ended the week with two wins, the second one coming ahead of long-time rival Chaz Davies and Alex Lowes in a time of 33’39.718.
British rider Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) was 1.961 seconds slower than Rea while compatriot Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) was 4.185 seconds off the day’s best mark.
Dutchman Michael Van Der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) finished in fourth spot (5.843 seconds behind) while Spain’s Xaxi Fores (BARNI Racing Team) completed the top five riders. Forex was 8.987 seconds behind Rea.
“I am happy with my week in Qatar,” Rea said last night. “It was a matter of keeping the bike straight and fast. There were no mistakes this week,” the star from Northern Ireland added. “I have had some great competition this week. It was fun to complete a good week,” he said.
“I don’t have words to describe. I just want to thank my family, my team and most of all my rivals Chaz and Tom (Sykes) because they pushed me to improve, gave me motivation to work better, to get smarter. I’ve really enjoyed it.
“I now want to get back home and enjoy the moment because these times don’t come along every day. I want to savour it with my family and my team,” Rea said.
Earlier in the evening, French star Lucas Mahias sealed a spectacular win to bag his maiden World SuperSport title.
Mahias, the Yamaha star, needed to finish 11th or above to stop arch-rival Kenan Sofuoglu from winning the world title and did so in style.
French rider Lucas Mahias celebrates on Podium after bagging his maiden World SuperSport title.
Turkish sensation Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished the 15-lap race in third spot, a notch behind France’s Jules Cluzel (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
Mahias showed pace and purpose as he clinched the SuperSport world title under lights ahead of Cluzel and Sofuoglu.
The Yamaha rider, who started the final race of the season from pole position, sealed his win in a time of 30 minutes 39.805 seconds.
Cluzel finished the 15-lap race just .023 seconds behind Mahias as the two riders ended the spectacular race in a photo-finish.
Sofuoglu - despite not 100 percent for the season’s final round - wrapped up his campaign in 2017 with a third-place finish and a huge smile. The Kawasaki star was 3.788 seconds adrift of the time set by Mahias. Sofuoglu suffered a triple hip fracture at Magny-Cours just a little over a month ago.
Federico Caricasulo of Italy also ended with a smile as he finished in 4th spot on his Yamaha YZF R6. Caricasulo was 3.845 seconds slower than the time set by Mahias.
Australian veteran Anthony West - who has raced the circuit for a few years in recent times - grabbed the fifth spot on his Kawasaki ZX-6R.
West was 7.946 seconds behind Mahias on the 5.37km circuit.
After the race, Mahias put on a specially-designed t-shirt with words ‘world champion 2017’ emblazoned on it, rode the bike into the paddock area for the final presentation.
“It feels really incredible. I thought this was impossible to do. I started racing when I was 10 years old and to win this feels great. I couldn’t have imagined of winning the world title,” Mahias said.
“It was a crazy race. Sometimes I pushed and sometimes I couldn’t. But I was good on the bike. I was good in the mind and it was my day,” he added. “I was a little scared in the straight as the engine was not very fast. The last lap was very good,” he added. “I want to thank my team and my family,” the French star said with a smile.
Second-placed Cluzel was pleased with his performance.
“I don’t know if you saw the race or not but I tried everything. I didn’t really feel great on the front wheel. I just tried not to make any mistakes as I merely tried to finish the race strongly,” Cluzel said.
“I kept on pushing because it was the last race. I gave some good show and enjoyed myself,” Frenchman said. “I came second and there were no crashes today. That was good.”
Third-placed Sufuoglu said he enjoyed his races in 2017.
“Today I am very happy. I didn’t lose the championship as there were so many races this season that I could not start,” Sofuoglu said. “I am just happy. There was potential for me to win the race but I took my time to get the rhythm as I was kind of scared of every rider.
“Podium is good. I am second in the championship. It has been a good year and I am happy,” he said.
Qatar riders Saeed Al Sulaiti - who started the race from 18th spot on the grid - and Mashel Al Naimi - who was in the 22nd place - could not complete the race due to technical issues.