Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) won his 15th World SBK race of the season under the floodlights of a Friday night in Qatar, setting a new personal best in terms of races won in a single year.
Of even more statistical significance, he is now stand-alone second in the record for most wins ever in WorldSBK, with 53.
Rea, starting from pole, led Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team) of the line but soon his team-mate was overrun by other riders, including his rival for overall second in the championship, Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati).
With Davies finishing second, Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) slotted in third, but over ten seconds down on a slowing up Rea.
Eugene Laverty (Milwaukee Aprilia) equalled his best ride of the year in fourth place, winning a personal fight with his team-mate Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) as they both ambushed Sykes late on.
In sixth place, Sykes is now on 373 point to Davies 383, leaving himself a mountain to climb in Saturday’s race two to get back into second in the final standings.
Seventh place was taken by Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team), from Sylvain Guintoli (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).
Race two takes place at 21.00 Qatar time.
By Gordon Ritchie