After Race 1, the overall standings still feature a three-man battle, which will go down to the final race of the season, whatever happens!
The Losail International Circuit will witness third place in the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship race decided on Saturday, with the Championship standings featuring a rather different complexion. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) consolidated his third place with a third place in the race, whilst teammate Michael van der Mark and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) were only sixth and 11th respectively. With prize money, team honours and personal pride all at stake for third overall, sparks will fly under the lights on Saturday.
Shadowing eventual race winner Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) for the entirety of the race, Alex Lowes’ consistency and determination saw him move to seven points clear of van der Mark in the standings. The 2018 Brno Race 2 winner took yet another podium in his 2019 WorldSBK campaign, as he looks to finish the season in a best ever position of third. More luck came Lowes’ way however, as a mistake in the closing stages from Toprak Razgatliolgu saw the Turkish rider sink to 11th overall, harming his chances of a third place in the title race. Razgatlioglu is now 17 points back from Lowes.
Speaking about his return to the rostrum, Lowes stated: “The podium was great today! I am not thinking too much about the bigger picture, as I said before the weekend, if I do my best in every session and really focus and work with the guys to deliver the best race, then I’ll be proud of myself. So far, we’ve done that quite well, although we struggled in the second half of the race with the front, so we will make a little change for tomorrow.”
On the other side of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team garage, Michael van der Mark struggled in the race and lost out in a last lap fight with Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK). Despite trying to fight back throughout the remainder of the 5.3km circuit, van der Mark had to settle for sixth over the line, just 0.018s behind the ‘Pocket Rocket’ and narrowly holding off Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), who came home in seventh.
“Finally, it was a difficult race,” began van der Mark. “In Superpole, I had a good pace on the race tyres; we don’t know why but, in the race, we struggled a lot with corner entry grip from Lap 1. It was a long and difficult race, but we have to improve, and the fight for third is still not over. We have to improve for tomorrow, but I think it will be another nice battle!”
For Toprak Razgatlioglu, the task is simple: he must not let the gap between himself and Lowes go above 25 points after the Tissot Superpole Race, otherwise, it is game over. That does in turn mean that Lowes must be first or second and that Razgatlioglu would then have to be sixth or ninth respectively. It is by no means over, but it is now a lot harder than it was after Argentina.
One thing is clear though: whatever happens in the Tissot Superpole Race, third place can’t be mathematically decided until the chequered flag at the end of Race 2, although Razgatlioglu can find himself out of contention. Will it be an all-Yamaha tussle for third or is there one last twist to decide the outcome of the overall pecking order going into 2020?
Find out the results in the crucial third place position with the WorldSBK VideoPass!