November 2nd, 2014
The results of last World Superbike race of the season, held under the floodlights of Qatar.
The World Supersport championship was settled in Magny Cours, but second place remained to be decided.
In the penultimate Superbike race, the first ever at night, Sylvain Guintoli could not win the title, but, if things went his way, Sykes could.
Press releases from the series organizers and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying on Saturday at Qatar:
Qualifying for the last race weekend of the season is done and all that's left now is to race. Tom Sykes or Sylvain Guintoli will be crowned champion in a matter of hours.
Late night superpole under the lights at Qatar, with Marco Melandri entering the first session as the man most likely to be promoted.
Nighttime World Supersport qualifying at Qatar.
Jonathan Rea continues to post fast times on his Honda CBR1000R while the Kawasaki pairing of Tom Sykes and Loris Baz are between him and Sylvain Guintoli. Marco Melandri continues his poor form, over a second off Rea's fast lap.
In what looked like it was going to be another weekend of dominance by Michael van der Mark, Kenan Sofuoglu ekes past at the last minute, with a 2'02.576. Van der Mark and Jules Cluzel were within a tenth of a second of the Turkish rider, while Film Wilairot was three tenths further back.
Press releases from some of the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Qatar:
In a few hours time, we will know who will be the 2014 World Superbike champion. Tom Sykes leads Sylvain Guintoli by 12 points going into the final two races at Qatar. With 50 points up for grabs, the title race is still completely open, and in a series as close as World Superbikes has been this year, anything could happen.
What both Sykes and Guintoli need are help from their teammates. Guintoli most of all: if the Frenchman is to be champion, he will need someone, such as his Aprilia teammate Marco Melandri, to get in between him and the Kawasaki of Sykes. Sykes, on the other hand, can wrap up the title by winning both races, or at least finishing ahead of Guintoli. If he can't finish ahead of the Frenchman, then he will hope that his teammate Loris Baz can assist.
As loyal teammates, surely Melandri and Baz will be happy to help? That was only partially the case at the last round in Magny-Cours. In race one, Melandri theatrically waved Guintoli past and into the lead, making it patently obvious that victory was Melandri's to dispense as he saw fit, and he was prepared to allow his teammate to win this time. Further back, Baz did the same same for Sykes, though without making quite as much of a song and dance about it as Melandri did.
Race two was a different affair. Once again, Melandri led, and could grant victory to Guintoli if he wanted to. He chose not to, taking the win – despite his pit board making the feelings of his team very clear indeed, for the second race in a row – and taking 5 precious points from Guintoli. If Melandri had obeyed team orders and moved over, then Guintoli would have trailed Sykes by 7 points instead of 12. That would put Guintoli's destiny in his own hands: win both races, and it would not matter what Sykes did. Now, Guintoli needs help, he needs someone between him and the Englishman. Will his teammate come to his rescue this time? Will the Aprilia WSBK team issue team orders again, commanding Melandri to serve the cause of Guintoli's championship challenge?
On the last Free Practice session of the day, moved forward from Saturday due to the nighttime schedule, Davide Giugliano recorded the first 1'57 lap of the weekend, ahead of Jonathan Rea and Sylvain Guintoli. Loris Baz, who narrowly avoided a high-speed crash with Gabor Rizmayer in the previous session, was fourth quickest.
While Michael van der Mark again takes the fastest slot, French Supersport champion Lucas Mahias, on his second wildcard ride of the year, goes second quickest under the lights of Losail.