WORLDSBK RACE 2 IN QATAR CANCELLED DUE TO ADVERSE TRACK CONDITIONS
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team’s 2018 FIM World Superbike Championship campaign came to a premature conclusion in Qatar this evening, when WorldSBK Race 2 was cancelled on safety grounds shortly before the scheduled start. The news brought the curtain down on the team’s most successful WorldSBK season to date, during which Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes racked up three race wins and a total of 14 podium finishes between them.
Van der Mark was met by high winds, a sandstorm and then torrential rain as he arrived at the Losail International Circuit for the final race day of the 2018 season. The adverse weather saw a delay to the race program, with the WorldSBK riders taking to the track for 15 minutes of warm-up more than 90 minutes later than scheduled.
Following the session concerns were raised by the riders about the track conditions, which resulted in a further delay to the program as circuit staff worked to disperse the water running across the track in several areas.
Following the WorldSSP race, which was shortened from 15 to 12 laps, the safety commission made the decision to cancel WorldSBK Race 2, due to standing water on the track and after taking into account the differences in power and tyres of WorldSBK and WorldSSP machines.
The cancellation of the final race of the 2018 season meant van der Mark missed the chance, albeit an outside one, to challenge for second place in the championship standings, but the Pata Yamaha rider was happy to finish third, which exceeded the expectations he had at the start of the year.
Michael van der Mark – Championship Position – 3rd – 333 Points: “It was absolutely the right decision to cancel Race 2 today. Our championship was already decided and the track conditions weren’t getting any better, especially turn 15 where there was a lot of standing water. It’s a shame to end the season in the pit box, but safety must come first. We set some goals at the start of the year, to fight for podiums, to fight for a win and to finish top five in the championship. We’ve done all of that and more and I’m really happy to have ended the season third in the championship. The team can be proud of their achievements this year, because we’ve improved a lot and had both riders winning races and finishing on the podium. Now we need to continue to work, looking for further improvements so that we come back even stronger in 2019.”
The team head to Spain next month, where van der Mark and Lowes will commence their build up to the 2019 season.