World Superbikes 2017: what to expect at the final round in Qatar this weekend

Ian Marsden
The 2017 champion Jonathan Rea leads Chaz Davies (Ducati), who can take the runner-up spot this weekend ahead of Rea's Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes. Whatever happens, the top three in the championship will all be British  - Getty Images Europe

The 2017 World Superbike season draws to a close this weekend under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. With the championship sewn up by Jonathan Rea two rounds ago, all eyes will be on the battle for second place overall which, as it was last year, is between Rea’s Kawasaki team-mate Tom Sykes and Ducati’s Chaz Davies.

Last year it was Sykes who prevailed, though not without the assistance of his team-mate. With Davies leading the final race of the season and Sykes in third behind Rea, it was Davies who was heading for the runner-up spot in the championship. Rea, however, slowed to allow Sykes through, meaning the Yorkshireman finished just two points ahead of Davies in the final standings.

But it could be a different story this year, with Rea going on record as saying he won’t help his team-mate this time around.

Should Davies and Sykes score the same points over the two races at Losail, Davies will secure second place in the championship by virtue of having taken the most race wins over the season, seven versus two over the 2017 season.

Whetever the outcome, the season's top three is determined, with Marco Melandri on the second Ducati currently 62 points adrift of Davies and Sykes. Melandri, however, is guaranteed fourth in his first season back in World Superbikes since 2014, having a 75-point advantage over Alex Lowes in fourth.

Both Rea and Sykes are yet to win at Losail; Davies, however, took both race wins in 2016.  Rea, with 506 points so far this season, is 46 points shy of the record for the most points scored in one season which is currently held by Colin Edwards - a record that has stood since 2002.

To claim this record Rea will need to win both races; one win and a second would draw him level with Edwards’ record. If the tantalising prospect of becoming the record points scorer in a Superbike season is not enough to motivate Rea, he goes into this week's racing with 52 career wins, the same as Australian Troy Bayliss. He is also level with Bayliss in terms of championship wins; both have three. Rea though has won his in consecutive seasons and is the first man in the history of the series to achieve this.

Top of the standings for both race wins and championships is Briton Carl Fogarty, who amassed 59 race wins and four world titles in a career spanning 1988 to 2000. 

World Superbike Championship standings

1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) 506 points - champion

2. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 363

3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 363

4. Marco Melandri (Ducati) 301 

5. Alex Lowes (Yamaha) 226

6. Michael Van Der Mark (Yamaha) 210

World Supersport Championship

Unlike the main event, the supporting series is far from over and the 2017 title will be decided in Sunday's final round.

With a maximum of 25 points available, Lucas Mahias on his Yamaha goes into the race 20 points ahead of reigning champion Kenan  Sofuoglu. Six points (for 10th place) will be sufficient for the Frenchman to secure the championship, regardless of where Sofuoglu finishes.

However, should Mahias only score five points and Sofuoglu win the race, Kawasaki's Turkish rider would retain his title due to his vastly superior number of race wins.

The fact that Sofuoglu has even the remotest chancing of reclaiming the championship is testimony to his skill, and determination. Of the 11 races to date Sofuoglue has missed four through injury, retiring in one more. When he has started and finished (a total of six races), Sofuoglu has won five wins and came second in the other.

By contrast Mahias has retired from two races, and of the remaining nine races he has only one win to his name.

On Sunday Mahias needn’t worry about pushing for the win; keeping Sofuoglu in his sights should be sufficient for him to claim the crown.

The Losail circuit has a contract specifically to host the last race of the season - the drama of deciding the Supersport championship and the runner-up spot in Superbikes is exactly why the circuit specifies this.

Although the crowd is likely to be modest, the tension will be high.

World Supersport Championship standings

1. Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) 165 points

2. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 145 

3. Jules Cluzel (Honda) 135

4. Sheridan Morais (Yamaha) 132

5. PJ Jacobsen (MV Agusta) 108

6. Federico Caricasulo (Yamaha) 105

 

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