The final race of the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship took place under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit for the Motul Qatar Round. After a season of last lap battles, new rivalries, record-shattering performances and triumphant successes, the final race of the season saw yet more phenomenal World Superbike action. Relentless as ever, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) battled hard to beat Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) in a race to remember in Qatar.
Powering off the line for the final time in 2019, Alvaro Bautista made the most of the Ducati power to lead the field to Turn 1, although the Spaniard went wide and allowed Jonathan Rea back ahead. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) slotted in behind them whilst Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was right in the mix in fourth, with Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in fifth. It was a disaster for Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing – Yamaha), who got Turn 1 all wrong and was plum last.
On Lap 2, it was all action and drama as Rea and Bautista began to battle between Turn 6 and 9, swapping paint and scything under one and other, whilst Alex Lowes was also getting in on the act. At Turn 15, van der Mark took third from Lowes but both ran wide, allowing Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) to come through from nowhere, whilst Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati) also capitalised on the squabbles. Leon Haslam was a big loser in the battle and was down to seventh.
After the frantic action had calmed down on Lap 4, Bautista began to close down Jonathan Rea for first, whilst Chaz Davies was now up to third. Bautista and then Davies set the fastest lap of the race, with just over a second covering the leading trio and less than half-a-second covering Rea and Bautista. Meanwhile, van der Mark and Lowes had pulled away from Razgatlioglu.
With 13 laps to go, Bautista made a move on Rea at Turn 1 but ran wide, with Rea slicing back through. Two laps later and the 34-year-old Spaniard tried again, but the Kawasaki of Rea was too strong on the brakes. With the swapping and changing, Chaz Davies continued to edge closer and now, just 0.273s separated a tantalizingly close podium. Soon, the gloves were off, and Bautista hit the front on Lap 9 at Turn 1, but Rea fought back and barged his way down the inside at the Turn 6 hairpin. Davies was even closer now, and it was a three-way heavyweight fight.
With seven to go, and outside the top six, Razgatlioglu had dropped behind Haslam, whilst Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) was riding strongly on his final appearance on the Ducati V4 R. Loris Baz had recovered well and was now inside the top ten in ninth place, lapping faster than everyone ahead of him up to Chaz Davies. Meanwhile, van der Mark got the better of Lowes for fourth at Turn 6, although Lowes still occupied third overall in the standings and fought back at Turn 1 a lap later.
Out front, Jonathan Rea had pulled away and left the dueling Ducatis of Bautista and Davies to fight it out. At Turn 15 with four laps to go, Davies made his move and got ahead of his teammate; the last time the two will be in the same team. It would be a critical moment, as the podium places wouldn’t change from that moment on, despite Bautista’s best efforts.
Across the line for the final time, Rea took a 17th win of the season with a thrilling victory, whilst Chaz Davies clung on for another second place, ahead of Bautista, who bows out of Ducati with a podium. Alex Lowes took fourth and was third overall in the standings, whilst Toprak Razgatlioglu stormed through in a last-lap shuffle to take fifth, ahead of a scintillatingly fast Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) taking his best finish of the season. Van der Mark, Baz, Haslam and Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) completed the top ten, whilst Cortese’s teammate, Marco Melandri, failed to score points in his final race in the Championship.