After a vicious sandstorm and then a remarkably long and violent thunderstorm all around the Losail International Circuit earlier today, the start of track action was delayed more than once, to allow for additional track cleaning.
Warm-up sessions for the WorldSBK and WorldSSP classes subsequently took place, and then a shortened WorldSSP race got underway. At the end of that contest Race Direction cancelled the second WorldSBK race, as some parts of the circuit - especially in some key braking areas and the apex of Turn 15 - were deemed just too wet.
Despite not having a final race to compete in for a last win that would have given him a stand alone record of most wins in a season, Rea’s victory on Friday evening made it 17 wins this year, equalling the existing record set by Doug Polen.
Rea won his unique fourth consecutive WorldSBK title with five races to go this season, and has scored the greatest number of career wins in the class at 71. His Friday win at Losail was his 56th for Kawasaki; the most any rider has scored for one manufacturer. Rea was unable to shoot for his own highest points tally of 556 points, which he set last year, but he reached an impressive total of 545 points in 25 races in 2018.
Sykes signed off his long WorldSBK relationship with Kawasaki with a second place finish on Friday, before the surprise of no final race today. Tom won the 2013 title with KRT, missed out on two more by incredibly small margins and has ridden on official Kawasaki WorldSBK machinery of some kind since 2010. He has scored 34 career wins, all with KRT, and is the all-time record holder for Superpole wins, with 48.
Tom will undertake a new adventure in 2019 and in appreciation for his efforts inside the KRT squad the team had special T-shirts made to commemorate his achievements on Ninja machinery, and also created a special video of Tom’s career highlights. The team watched this in the pit garage as a group before packing up the pitbox at the conclusion of another successful season. Tom finished this championship season in fourth place overall, missing out on his final chance to take third place once the second Losail race was cancelled.
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) ended his rookie season in ninth place overall, having finished tenth in race one on Friday at Losail. He scored two memorable podiums, one in the UK and the second more recently in Argentina. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) was 15th overall this year, Roman Ramos (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) 16th and recent signing for the Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki squad, Gabriele Ruiu, 25th.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was a difficult situation today. From one side it is frustrating not be able to finish the season when you are geared up to race but on the other side conditions are really difficult out there, especially at Turn 15. It did not seem like it was draining at all and every time they tried to clean the track, water was coming up from the gravel bed. It was frustrating for the fans also, because they are not getting a Superbike race tonight. But safety is paramount. We can look back at our season and be really proud of our efforts. Because this race was cancelled today we also finished our season with a race win from yesterday.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “It was weird not to race today. I feel robbed! I wanted to have one last dance with my bike and just enjoy it, really. I felt we had a very strong race set-up this weekend. I just felt something good coming today and wanted to give it one last go. I have been in the top three in the world championship for six years, so this is the first time in seven years I finished outside of it. On another note, our speed was still unquestionable; we still have that. Yesterday we brought it home not too far behind Jonathan, who is a four-time world champion. Thanks to everybody in Kawasaki and the team for all their efforts over the past years.”
2018 KRT Rider Statistics
Jonathan Rea: World Champion 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018
2018: Races 25, Wins 17, Podiums 22, Superpoles 2
Career Race Wins: 71 (56 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 134 (92 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 16 (12 for Kawasaki)
Tom Sykes: World Champion 2013
2018: Races: 25, Wins 1, Podiums 8, Superpoles 6
Career Race Wins: 34 (34 for Kawasaki)
Career Podiums: 108 (107 for Kawasaki)
Career Poles: 48 (48 for Kawasaki)
6 x Riders’ Championships (Scott Russell 1993, Sykes 2013, Rea 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018), 1 x EVO Riders’ Championship (David Salom 2014)
4 x Manufacturers’ Championships (Ninja ZX-10R 2015 & 2016, Ninja ZX-10RR 2017 & 2018)
4 x Teams’ Championships (KRT/Provec Racing 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2018)
Kawasaki FIM Superbike World Championship Statistics
Total Kawasaki Race Wins: 127 – second overall
Total Kawasaki Podiums: 380 – third overall
Total Kawasaki Poles: 81 – second overall