Jonathan Rea was denied the opportunity to set new records for most wins in a world superbike season, and most points scored in a season, after storms hit Qatar ahead of Saturday’s race day and caused the cancellation of the final race of the 2018 season.
Friday’s race had seen Rea equal Doug Polen’s 27 year record of 17 wins in a season with another straightforward victory, taking him to within 11 points of his own record breaking 556 point haul set last year.
Unfortunately storms raged over the gulf state, flooding the track and wrecking infrastructure for Saturday’s final race. While the track dried out sufficiently to allow for delayed warm-ups and a shortened world supersport race to take place, several accidents on standing water during the supersport event caused concern. Following that race, which saw former Moto3 world champion Sandro Cortese crowned champion on his Yamaha, the safety commission met and deemed that track conditions were unsuitable for the more powerful, slick tyre shod, superbikes.
“It was a difficult situation today,” said Jonathan. “From one side it is frustrating not be able to finish the season when you are geared up to race but on the other side conditions are really difficult out there, especially at turn 15. It did not seem like it was draining at all and every time they tried to clean the track, water was coming up from the gravel bed. It was frustrating for the fans also, because they are not getting a superbike race tonight. But safety is paramount. We can look back at our season and be really proud of our efforts. Because this race was cancelled today we also finished our season with a race win from yesterday.”
The cancellation meant that Ducati rider Chaz Davies retained his second place in the championship, in what was the Italian manufacturer’s last year running a V-Twin. Ducati has raced with its traditional 90-degree twin every year since the world superbike championship started in 1998, winning a total of 17 manufacturers titles and races in all but two years (2013 and 2014). Next year, Ducati will run a racing version of the V4 Panigale with Davies joined by MotoGP rider Alvaro Bautista. Dutchman Michael van der Mark ended the year third on his Yamaha.