Jonathan Rea to make a 'few changes' to his bike after opening World Superbike win in Qatar
Jonathan Rea won the opening World Superbike race in Qatar last night from pole position after setting the fastest lap in the final five minutes of the Superpole session.
He made the perfect start under the Losail Circuit floodlights, led into the first turn and was never headed despite pressure from Alex Lowes for three quarters of the 17-lap race and then from Chas Davies who raced through from 12th on the grid to pass Lowes on lap 13.
He did close on the Ulsterman, but the five-time world champion had a little left in the tank and won by 2.7 seconds from the Ducati man with Lowes back in third.
Rea's win also helped Kawasaki win the manufacturers title for the fifth year in a row.
Rea said: "I got a great start and settled into my rhythm.
"I had a comfortable pace, 58sec laps all race, but didn't know if it was enough.
"I saw Alex was dropping back, but Chas was flying and closed to 0.9sec behind me.
"I thought, no way am I giving this up, and was able to pull away over the last two laps.
"We need to make a few changes, especially with the front brake.
"One minute it came back to the bar, the next corner it was sticking way out."
Eugene Laverty had another good race on the Team Go Eleven Ducati, finishing in eighth from his 13th position on the grid.
Meanwhile, the Sunflower Trophy meeting at Bishopscourt got off to a wet start yesterday, but it didn't deter Christian Iddon (Tyco BMW) and Richard Cooper (Buildbase Suzuki) from putting on a show for the fans in the opening Superbike race.
The Ashvale Farm Shop 10-lap race saw National Superstock 1000 champion Cooper lead Iddon by a tenth of a second at the end of lap one with Ryan Gibson, Emmett O'Grady, Eunan McGlinchey, Ross Irwin and David Allingham in hot pursuit.
New BSB Riders Cup champion Iddon hit the front on lap two and gradually took a tenth here and a tenth there out of Cooper to lead by 1.3secs going onto the last lap, the pair in a class of their own.
Cooper, a treble winner here a year ago, set the fastest lap of the race on the final lap, but failed by 0.883sec to catch Iddon.
A four-rider scrap for the final podium position between Irwin, McGlinchey, O'Grady and Allingham went right down to the final lap.
Allingham had passed McGlinchey on lap eight but when the chequered flag fell it was McGlinchey in third position after a stunning ride for Winston McAdoo on the Supersport Kawasaki against the big bikes.
O'Grady (TAG Honda Fireblade) was four seconds down on McGlinchey in fourth, Irwin a magnificent fifth and Keelim Ryan sixth.
Scottish visitor Michael Mackinnon was a double winner, taking a four second victory in the Pre-Injection race from Jack Oliver and then winning the Supersport/Superbike Cup race by 8.6secs from Aaron Uprichard.
Schoolboy Cameron Dawson (15), from Dungannon, a protégé of Ryan Farquhar, won the Supersport 300cc race on his KMR Kawasaki, 15secs clear of Andrew Smyth and Rossi Dobson, while visitors Lee Crawford with Scott Hardie in the chair were 21secs ahead of local pairing Peter O'Neill and Brian Butler in the sidecar sprint race.
The experienced Jeremy McWilliams starts today's Supertwin races from pole position, as does Richard Kerr in Supersport, with racing scheduled from 10.15am approximately.