The Ulsterman’s win gave him a 15th victory of the season and Kawasaki a fifth consecutive Manufacturers’ Championship, but he had to work for it…
The 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship launched racing action at the Motul Qatar Round, with the first of three races getting underway on Friday night. With first and second in the title race already sorted out, the attention and all eyes were on the battle for third, with the three protagonists spread out across the top ten. Taking the win in convincing fashion, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) led from lights to flag, giving Kawasaki the Manufacturers’ Championship.
Before the race even began, Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) crashed on the exit of Turn 1 on the Warm Up Lap. The Spaniard highsided all on his own accord in the middle of the pack was thankfully OK. However, his race was run before it started, as he retired to the pits after the eventual completion of his Warm Up Lap.
Steaming off from pole position, Jonathan Rea took the holeshot down into Turn 1, fending off a fast-starting Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team). However, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) got ahead of the BMW rider and the front four were as they were. Other good getaways came from Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), up from 12th to sixth and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), from tenth to seventh.
At the beginning of Lap 2, there was drama for Sykes, as he clipped the back of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) at Turn 1, as the two outbroke themselves. Chaz Davies had now picked up the pieces and was up to fourth, whilst Haslam had slipped back into the clutches of Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) courtesy of his collision with Sykes, as both of them were seventh and eighth. By the end of Lap 2, Bautista was seventh and Haslam had dropped to eighth.
It would be heartache for Cortese on Lap 6, as the German rider crashed out of fourth place at Turn 7, after just being passed by Davies. This promoted Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) to sixth, before the Dutchman scythed ahead of Razgatlioglu to pinch fifth. The battle for third however was looking like it would go the way of Alex Lowes, who was up in second, whilst teammate van der Mark and 2020 Pata Yamaha replacement Razgatliolgu were fifth and sixth. There was more despair downfield for Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), who suffered a technical problem on the front straight.