A remarkable year for Kawasaki and KRT riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes was rounded off by a 1-2 finish in the Riders’ Championship, as Sykes retained his overall second place with a second place finish. He came home just ahead of Rea after a shortened ten-lap race two at Losail. Jonathan Rea had won the championship itself the day before but the final points scores ended up Rea 498 and Sykes 447 after the very last race of 13-round season.
In 2016 Kawasaki and its official KRT squad won all the major titles on offer – for riders, manufacturers and team. The championship 1-2 for Rea and Sykes was the final part of the overall winning package for the Ninja ZX-10R. Remarkably, all this on-track success came in the first year of a new model, which was only launched a year ago.
The final race of the year got underway on schedule at 21.00 local time in Qatar and was planned for 17-laps. After an oil spill the red flags came out and the track had to be cleaned. A shorter 10-lap restart began almost 45 minutes after the first, and with full championship points issued.
Rea had run-on early in the first red-flagged race and was down in ninth on the grid for the restart instead of the pole position he had earned on Saturday. Sykes was second off the grid in the restart and harried eventual winner Chaz Davies, the only rider who could catch and pass Tom to take second in the points.
As Rea improved his pace and looked to win the final race of his second back-to-back championship season, he overtook Tom and closed in on the lead of Davies. Unable to catch and pass before the final flag he eased up and Sykes secured second place to maintain his overall second in the championship.
With both KRT riders on the podium their 2016 statistics grew again and made happy reading for rider and manufacturer alike. Rea, the 2015 and 2016 champion, has scored nine race wins this year, taken 23 podiums in 26 races, two pole positions and six fastest laps – including the new Losail lap record of 1’56.974, which he set on lap three today.
Sykes’ latest podium gives him 20 for the season, including five wins. He has earned eight more Superpole wins in 2016 and six fastest laps.
In the final Manufacturers’ Championship standings, Kawasaki has 582, 65 more than the nearest rival.