The forthcoming races in Qatar will determine which Kawasaki Racing Team rider, Jonathan Rea or Tom Sykes, will be crowned 2016 FIM Superbike World Champion.
The last two races of the 13-round WorldSBK championship will ultimately determine which KRT rider becomes champion but as things stand Rea only has to score two points to be crowned champion for the second successive year.
Were Jonathan to win the biggest prize in Qatar he will become the first rider since Carl Fogarty (1998-99) to win back-to-back championships in the WorldSBK category. He would also be the first Kawasaki rider to win more than one title and the ninth WorldSBK rider to achieve more than one championship win.
With a maximum of 50 points up for grabs Sykes would have to win both races at the Losail International Circuit, and Rea score only one point or no points across both races for Tom to be able to take his second world championship. Were Sykes to become champion again, after his 2013 success with KRT, then it would be he who would become the first Kawasaki rider to win more than one title and the ninth WorldSBK rider to score more than one championship.
As well as making his final attempt at catching Rea, Sykes also has to ensure he keeps ahead of Chaz Davies in the overall rankings to retain second place and a Kawasaki 1-2 finish in the Rider’s Championship. Davies is currently 19 points behind Sykes.
Uniquely in the WorldSBK season the races at the fast and flowing 5.380km long Losail International Circuit are held under floodlights, in the relative cool of the evening. The 17-lap WorldSBK races will be held on Saturday and Sunday, as per the two-day format introduced for the first time in 2016.
Jonathan Rea: “I am happy to finish the season here at Losail because it is a circuit that I really enjoy. The atmosphere of Qatar - being a night race, in the middle of the desert, surrounded by five star hotels - is cool. All my family will be there and a lot of my friends are making the trip as well because I hope to cap off an amazing season with the championship win. That is what we have been working hard for all season. The races in Qatar give us our chance to try and do that. We have just come off the back of a good weekend in Jerez where I was on the podium for the first time ever, and on the podium twice. I feel really equipped to go out and do a good job at Losail because I really enjoy the track and I feel we can aim high this weekend.”
Tom Sykes: “I am relaxed and looking forward to the races in Qatar and my ideal scenario is winning at least one of them. I feel we can go there and fight for the wins. It would be nice to finish the year with a win and if we can secure runner-up in the championship, it is not a bad season. Not a great one because I have definitely let myself down in the wet races but after a large part of the season had been completed I was not really expecting to be in a position to take it to the last round. Looking to this weekend, I really enjoy the format of the floodlit races and I am a night owl anyway! I am also doing the press event to help launch the race weekend on Thursday, which includes some traditional coffee tasting. For me, that cannot be bad! The weekend will definitely start well and hopefully we can finish it well, with a couple of strong results.”