Five-time WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea secured his 15th race win of the year and in doing so Kawasaki took an unassailable lead in the Manufacturers’ Championship standings. Leon Haslam (KRT) came out on top of a tough personal battle for fifth today on his Ninja ZX-10RR, one position higher than he had qualified in Tissot-Superpole.
In the surreal night time environment of the 5.380km long Losail International Circuit Jonathan Rea enjoyed even more success in his fifth successive championship-winning season, winning Race One after taking his seventh Superpole award of the season earlier in the day. Starting from pole, Rea was never headed but he had Alex Lowes for very close company in the early laps and then Chaz Davies closed in for a period during the latter stages of the 17-lap contest. The Ducati rider eventually dropping back to finish 2.732 seconds behind Jonathan at the flag.
Rea’s win gave Kawasaki a 42-point advantage in the Manufacturers’ Standings, with only a maximum of 37 points left to play for on Saturday, in the Tissot-Superpole Race and Race Two. Haslam had an eventful opening race in his return to Losail race. He overcame a collision with another rider and also being run off track at one point, to take a truly determined fifth place. There will be two more chances for Leon to score points on Saturday, when the race meeting and the entire season wraps-up.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “That was a massive target met. What a year – all the big awards. The Riders’ Championship, Superpole Award, Manufacturers’ Championship... That was the target coming here. I knew I had to finish in front of the Ducatis to win the Manufacturers’ Award today. I felt good from the start with the bike. I had such a good rhythm in Race One, it felt quite automatic, but I know I need to make a step for tomorrow because the pace could be faster with more rubber down. But that might help our situation with more rubber on the track. We just need to work in some areas on the front of the bike to finish the corner a bit better.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “From FP1, FP2, FP3 to Superpole we got faster and faster. We were trying not to run before we could walk, learning this track again, and the way around. We knew everything was going to be difficult here and that fifth is what we could do today. We got caught up a little bit in the early laps with a few people, I got hit by Tom Sykes, got punted off once, but my battle was my battle and I managed to beat them. To make that next step, and go with Lowes and Chaz, we need to make a couple more tenths - and we also need to get away with them as well. We will see what we can do tomorrow.”
Ichiro Yoda, KRT Senior Engineer, stated: “When I think about the start of the season, our competitors started strongly. So we thought maybe it was going to be a quite difficult season and our issues would be different again compared to previous seasons. But we predicted that we would be stronger toward the end, after we moved to the European rounds. Our prediction worked out OK, because together with our strong riders, engines and bikes we finally met our target.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) has already reached the status of top Independent Rider in 2019 but lost out on a top five chance today after he ran wide onto the gravel and fought back to score points for 11th place. He had qualified tenth in Superpole.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) crashed on lap one at Turn Two, restarted, but had to pit and then finally retired from the opening race of the weekend. In the initial inspection in pitlane the team found water on the tyres, an indicator that a stone or other object may have holed his bike’s radiator on the warm-up lap.