The 2016 World Superbike season draws to a close this weekend in the Arabian desert under the floodlights of the Losail International circuit of Qatar. Think what you want about the merits of a World championship race been held in front of a spartan crowd the first hand experience of witnessing motorcycle racing under floodlights should be experienced at least once. It’s as though the bikes come alive, even the brightest sun fails to bring out the lustre of the gorgeous machinery like the floodlights of Qatar.
With two races remaining; one Saturday and one Sunday; and fifty points available Kawasaki Racing Team rider Jonathan Rea is odds on favourite to win his second World Superbike championship in two years. The Northern Irishman holds a 48 point lead over team mate Tom Sykes. Rea’s advantage means 14th place or higher in race one will mean the championship heading to his side of the garage once more. The only sequence of events that could prevent this is Rea no scoring in both races and Sykes winning both.
While the championship is all but unattainable for Sykes he still can’t afford to relax. With third place rider Chaz Davies on the Racing Ducati only 19 points adrift of the Yorkshireman. Like Rea in the battle for the championship Sykes holds the upperhand in this battle, but going into the weekend Davies is on a hot streak having won the last four races, and five of the last six. A double again this weekend for Davies would leave Sykes needing 32 pints from the two races. In simple terms two podium finishes for Sykes will ensure he finishes runner up to Rea.
Meanwhile there is an intriguing battle for fourth place between the two Honda riders. Currently young Dutchman Michael van der Mark has the upperhand on MotoGp exile Nicky Hayden. Van der Mark currently has a 27 point advantage over Hayden, who returns to World Superbike duty from deputising for the injured Dani Pedrosa in last weekend’s Australian MotoGP. Whatever the outcome Hayden will remain with Honda for 2017 and will campaign the all new Fireblade along with current MotoGP competitor Stefan Bradl.
2016 World Superbike Championship standings
1. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki) 462 points
2. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki) 414
3. Chaz Davies (Ducati) 395
4. Michael van der Mark (Honda) 255
5. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 228
6. Davide Giugliano (Ducati) 197
In the Supersport class the championship was wrapped up by Kenan Sofuoglu with race victory at Jerez in the last round. The championship maybe decided but the race for second place could hardly be closer with only seven points separating three riders. Heading to Qatar it is Randy Krummenacher who heads the pack with 129 points, closely followed by MV Agusta rider Jules Cluzel on 126 points. Honda rider P.J Jacobsen is currently fourth with 122 points.
2016 Supersport standings
1. Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) 196 points
2. Randy Krummenacher (Kawasaki) 129
3. Jules Cluzel (MV Agusta) 126
4. PJ Jacobsen (Honda) 122
5. Kyle Smith (Honda) 100
6. Gino Rea (MV Agusta) 81
The MotoGP series heads to the Sepang International Circuitin Malaysia for the last of the three fly away rounds. The race will mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Marco Somoncelli who died in the MotoGP race at the circuit in 2011.
Phillip Island saw satellite Honda rider Cal Crutchlow on the top step of the podium for the second time this season, becoming the first Brutish rider to win more than one premier class races in a season since Barry Sheene in 1979. Crutchlow was also the first British rider to win the Australian GP. The win elevated the Briton to sixth place in the championship and 14 points behind Dani Pedrosa on the full factory Backed Honda. And with Pedrosa sitting out the Malysian race due to a broken collar bone sustained in Japan Crutchlow has a genuine opportunity to climb to fifth in the championship.
Newly crowned champion Marc Marquez may have crashed out in Australia while leading the race but nothing should be taken away from Crutchlow. He managed his tyres excellently, pulling away from eventual runner up Valentino Rossi. The second place by Rossi extended his lead over team mate Jorge Lorenzo to 24 points in the battle for second place in the championshop and top Yamaha.
Last years race was won by Pedrosa, but will always be rembered for the Rossi v Marquez battle that resulted in the Italian starting the last race of the season from the back of the grid and eventually ending his chances of securing a tenth World title.
2016 MotoGP championship standings
- Marc Marquez (Honda) 273 points
- Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 216
- Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 192
- Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) 181
- Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 155
- Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 141
Despite his lowly 12th place finish in Australia, reigning World Champion Johann Zarco extended his lead at the head of the championship by one point. Alex Rins who was in second place ahead of the race crashed out, with Thomas Luthi taking the win and elevating himself from third to second in the championship. Zarco remains the favourite to take the crown but he does need to improve on his recent erratic form which has yielded only one podium finish in the last six races. Zarco will take heart from the fact that he won last years race, but will equally be concerned that current second placed rider Thomas Luthi finished as runner up.
Briton Sam Lowes has now dropped to fifth place on the championship after a disastrous sequence of events where he has only scored points in two of the last eight races, failing to finish in five of them. He now finds himself only three points ahead of sixth placerider Takaaki Nakagami.
2016 Moto2 championship standings
1 Johann Zarco 226 points
2 Thomas Luthi 204
3 Alex Rins 201
4 Franco Morbidelli 177
5 Sam Lowes 162
6 Takaaki Nakagami 159
The Phillip Island Moto3 race was carnage. The race had to be restarted after a mass pile-up after five laps involving 14 riders. Newly crowned champion Brad Binder won the restarted race, which 13 riders failed to finish. Binder was the only rider from the top seven in the championship to finish the race.
2016 Moto3 championship standings
1 Brad Binder (KTM) 294
2 Enea Bastianini (Honda) 164
3 Jorge Navrro (Honda) 143
4 Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 129
5 Joan MIR (KTM) 124
6 Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 122