Round 13 - Race 1 (Saturday 29th Oct 2016)
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) secured his second FIM Superbike World Championship in succession thanks to a second place finish in the opening race at Losail in Qatar. The last time this feat was achieved was 17 years ago. Tom Sykes (KRT) finished fourth in the race to remain second in the championship standings, with one race remaining.
Rea, who had won his eighth career Superpole contest earlier in the day to start from the best grid spot, was intent on winning the 17-lap race to secure the title as he enjoyed a large points cushion of 48 over Sykes at the start of the day. Tom was the only rider who could possibly catch Jonathan on this final weekend of the 13 round season, but the title was decided one race before the end after Rea’s podium ride.
Rea is one of only four riders to have won WorldSBK titles from one year to the next, joining Carl Fogarty (twice), Doug Polen and Fred Merkel in that exclusive club.
In race one at the 5.380km Losail circuit Rea had chased eventual race winner Chaz Davies in the early laps and held station behind him for some time. Jonathan eventually eased off to earn more than enough points to make his second championship secure.
Sykes could not make his optimum pace in the early laps on fresh tyres but towards the end he made up gro und and went from fifth to fourth by passing Nicky Hayden on the last lap and closing in on eventual final place podium man, Sylvain Guintoli.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “It is incredible to have won back-to-back championships. It is very raw right now because I have not had time to take it in, but to have such a year like I had last year - and then this year with the new bike - I think we faced a lot more challenges this time. I am really happy and proud of our work because this bike was so new. To win in the first year of a new model is incredible and I want to thank Kawasaki for building such a good base bike. I expect to go from strength to strength. It felt like we really had to win the championship this time so I have to thank everybody all around me in the team. I want to thank each and every one of them.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team Rider): “Congratulations to Johnny because two on the bounce is great. He is riding very well and it is credit to the team and Kawasaki Racing. We have come fr om way back in 2011 and they have been so consistent in the last few years, fighting for world titles. This year I am not the rider to take the title on the Ninja but at least the trophy is staying inside Kawasaki. It was a really strange race today because I could not get the pace in the beginning but towards the end I felt we improved it. It seems to me like I was also catching Sylvain at the end but the race was too short to make a good ending.”
Guim Roda (Team Manager): “I would like to pass my biggest congratulations to Johnny for his consecutive title wins. A championship win is something very difficult to achieve, and even more so for two in a row. It has been a very complicated year, much more than people can see from outside, so for me his job has been of great value. I hope he enjoys the moment with all his friends and family, because for sure all in KRT will enjoy it for some days. All the staff from KRT and Kawasaki always try their best t o give our riders the right tools to make their dreams come true. We all are very happy for Rea make his dream come true while riding the green power machine.”
Steve Guttridg (Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager): “We all know that winning any championship is so difficult. Johnny made that look almost easy last year on our fully proven KRT race bike.
We understood that defending that number 1 plate at this level of racing was going to be an even tougher challenge in 2016. Our all-new Ninja ZX-10R proved to be an excellent base. With intelligent development on and around the WorldSBK circuits this season all of the team and JR have made an incredible job again in retaining that Championship title for Kawasaki.”
Shigemi Tanaka (Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Motorcycle and Engine Company, Marketing Department): “Congratulations to Jonathan, it is a great accomplishment to win the World Superbike title in two consecutive years. I am sur e that all Kawasaki fans across the world will join KHI in congratulating Jonathan on his achievement and also thanking Tom Sykes for a year of excellent performances. This back-to-back championship highlights once more the excellence of Ninja ZX-10R as a supreme road bike and an unbeatable racing package.”
Round 13 - Race 2 (Sunday 30th Oct 2016)
A remarkable year for Kawasaki and KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes was rounded off by a 1-2 finish in the Riders’ Championship, as Sykes retained his overall second place with a second place finish. He came home just ahead of Rea after a shortened ten-lap race two at Losail. Jonathan Rea had won the championship itself the day before but the final points scores ended up Rea 498 and Sykes 447 after the very last race of 13-round season.
In 2016 Kawasaki and its official KRT squad won all the major titles on offer – for riders, manufacturers and team. The championship 1-2 for Rea and Sykes was the final part of the overall winning package for the Ninja ZX-10R. Remarkably, all this on-track success came in the first year of a new model, which was only launched a year ago.
The final race of the year got underway on schedule at 21.00 local time in Qatar and was planned for 17-laps. After an oil spill the red flags came out and the track had to be cleaned. A shorter 10-lap restart began almost 45 minutes after the first, and with full championship points issued.
Rea had run-on early in the first red-flagged race and was down in ninth on the grid for the restart instead of the pole position he had earned on Sat urday. Sykes was second off the grid in the restart and harried eventual winner Chaz Davies, the only rider who could catch and pass Tom to take second in the points.
As Rea improved his pace and looked to win the final race of his second back-to-back championship season, he overtook Tom and closed in on the lead of Davies. Unable to catch and pass before the final flag he eased up and Sykes secured second place to maintain his overall second in the championship.
With both KRT riders on the podium their 2016 statistics grew again and made happy reading for rider and manufacturer alike. Rea, the 2015 and 2016 champion, has scored nine race wins this year, taken 23 podiums in 26 races, two pole positions and six fastest laps – including the new Losail lap record of 1’56.974, which he set on lap three today.
Sykes’ latest podium gives him 20 for the season, including five wins. He has earned eight more Superpole wins in 2016 and six fastest laps.
In the final Manufacturers’ Championship standings, Kawasaki has 582, 65 more than the nearest rival.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team): “I was trying to get to Chaz to win the first attempted race. When I started the bike felt good but when I approached turn one I could not shift gears as a sensor had failed so I ran-on. I lost places so the red flag saved me when it came out. The crew changed it really quickly for the restart and we made a step forward. Today I rode with my heart; rode like I can. In a ten-lap race, starting from ninth place, the maths did not stack up well! I got beaten-up in the first two corners and spent too long behind Leon Haslam and Tom. Chaz had a bit of a gap on me but I closed it right down. When I saw it was not possible to win I decided to work for the team and Kawasaki. We rode a really, really fast race here. A lap record, a pole position and a world champi onship came our way this weekend, so Qatar has been pretty good to me.”
Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team): “To finish runner up has a better ring to it than third and Kawasaki has gone 1-2 in the Riders’ Championship this year. It was a strange weekend in some ways but finally in the first part of race two, which eventually got red-flagged, I was preparing for a longer race. I think our pace at the end could have also been quite good over 17-laps. In the restart to finally do some 1’57 laps was something unexpected. After Jonathan passed me he was closing in on Chaz but obviously when he looked at Chaz’s lap time he would have had to do something special to win. Jonathan has had two great seasons and he has been the man to beat. It was a very good gesture from the other side of the team and this is something that I appreciate so much.”
Guim Roda (Team Manager): “This is the first year of the current model Ninja ZX-10R’s introduction and it has taken the Manufacturers’ title, plus first and second in the championship. Sometimes, there are in life bigger things than your own interests, and that makes life magic and exciting. Today it was possible, for the first time ever, for Kawasaki to finish first and second in the Riders’ Championship. Be sure next year the competition will be there again and Rea and Sykes will provide a big show to the world again. Congratulations to Tom and congratulations to Johnny - you give the team something we lost in the past.”
Steve Guttridge (Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager): “We won the Manufacturers’ Championship, the Team Championship and had first and second places in the Riders’ Championship. I am absolutely delighted and the guys did a fantastic job this year again. They have stepped it up another level with the new Ninja ZX-10R.”
2016 Superbike World Championship Leaderboard after Round 11:
1. J. REA 498
2. T. SYKES 447
3. C. DAVIES 445
4. M. VAN DER MARK 267
5. N. HAYDEN 248