Twelve rounds, twenty four races and nine months will come down to two days, two hours and two points in the 2016 story of WorldSBK this weekend. The Kawasaki Racing Team already have the title sewn-up as the series heads to Losail, Qatar for the curtain-dropper but this year’s crown is still hovering and poised for a place to land. Jonathan Rea is bidding to become the first back-to-back Superbike champion this century and only needs to score two points if teammate Tom Sykes can own both dashes on Saturday and Sunday under the Qatari lights.
All attention will be on the Northern Irishman and leader of the series from the opening salvo back at Phillip Island in Australia in February. With 21 podium finishes from a possible 24 and 9 wins Rea has been the strongest and the smartest racer throughout the campaign. Sykes has racked-up 19 trophies and 5 triumphs but counts some costly mistakes in his 48 point deficit to #65. Ducati’s Chas Davies has claimed 5 of the last 6 WorldSBK races including clean sweeps in France and Spain just recently and must be a factor in what will come to pass in the desert this weekend.
Losail will stage the Superbike finale after a memorable climax in 2014 where Sykes narrowly lost out on being Kawasaki first athlete to own two WorldSBK titles by the narrowest of margins – just 6 points. Historically 10 different riders have won in Qatar from the last 14 outings so the odds lay against the 2013 champ somewhat in recording his second ‘double’ of ‘16. All Rea needs to do is motor home in the top fourteen to start the party.