LUSAIL, Qatar – Jonathan Rea inched closer to history on Friday with yet another World Superbike victory at the Losail Int’l Circuit.
The victory, Rea’s 17th of the season, equals the single-season win record previously owned by Doug Polen. He also moved to within 12 points of the highest points tally in World Superbike history. He can break both records during Saturday’s finale at Losail.
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion was untouchable on the Qatari circuit, getting the holeshot at the lights and never relinquishing the race lead. Tom Sykes started from the pole and completed a Kawasaki Racing Team one-two, with Alex Lowes getting the better of Eugene Laverty for third after a race-long battle.
Rea pushed him into first place before even arriving to turn one, while Laverty and Lowes jostled behind to see who could follow the Kawasaki bikes. The Aprilia’s incredible top speed on the kilometre-long straight was Laverty’s best weapon all throughout the race, using the slipstream to move into third after lap one.
With Rea managing a comfortable two-second gap over his teammate and both riders a step above the rest in terms of consistency, all eyes were set on the Yamaha and Aprilia battle behind them. Lowes moved ahead on lap six, but was again beaten on the front straight three laps later. It all came down to an epic last lap battle where they rubbed shoulders and included a brave final pass from the Englishman at turn 12.
Laverty tried to return the favor on the final turn, but nearly lost the front end of his bike, handing Lowes the final podium position.
Xavi Fores followed the front quartet with a confident race all the way to the final lap, but late issues pushed him down to 13th to the benefit of Marco Melandri. The Italian took fifth position and will start his last race for the Borgo Panigale squad from the front row on Saturday.