After the usual heated and combative WorldSP300 contest, in the highly unusual setting of the Losail International Circuit under floodlights, Kawasaki Ninja 400 riders filled the six top places at the flag. Koen Meuffels (Kawasaki Motoport) finished second by just 0.010 of a second and Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) was only 0.249 seconds from the race win.
New World Champion Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGo Team) was fourth, 2018 champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec) fifth and Tom Edwards (Kawasaki ParkinGo Team) sixth. All top six riders finished within a second of each other, in what was a ten-lap race laden with overtakes and some elbow-to-elbow action.
In the first ever WorldSSP300 event at this unique venue in the deserts of Qatar, Carrasco had been the form rider in Free Practice and she went on to be the Superpole winner; her first pole position of the season.
Ana led for half the laps of the race, Edwards for one and Meuffels for two, but it was the last lap that mattered most and Deroue had worked himself into the slipstream of Meuffels at just the right time.
On the impressively long finish straight Scott waited until the perfect moment to pull out of the slipstream of his team-mate Koen and take an advantage of 0.010 seconds - so close it had to be re-confirmed by an old-school photo finish.
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) was tenth today, his team-mate Dion Otten 12th, with two more Kawasaki riders, Samuel Di Sora (Flembbo Leader Team Kawasaki) and Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM), inside the points scoring positions.
Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) crashed out on the final lap, while inside the leading group and just 0.6 seconds from the leader on the penultimate lap.
Over nine rounds of the championship, Kawasaki riders won eight races, and the top three riders in the final points table all raced on Ninja 400s. Gonzalez finished his season with 161 points, Deroue 131 and Carrasco 117.
Scott Deroue, stated: “I was quite nervous before the race because Ana was so fast the whole weekend long. I did not have her pace. But in warm-up we made a step forward with the front because we had struggled with chatter in some corners. When we made the step I thought, ‘OK, maybe we are ready for the race’. But still it was hard. Sometimes Ana had a gap but I just pushed, and pushed and it worked out. It was a very difficult race because there were so many overtakes and it was hard in the heat and everything to keep your concentration. But in the last lap I knew it needed to happen. Koen had a gap and Ana was in front of me. I overtook her and some others but there was still a gap to Koen. I had to push again and it worked out, because I overtook him on the finish line. Second in the championship is like a dream come true. Two times I have been third so to finish second in really good.”
Ana Carrasco, stated: “Overall, it has been a positive weekend, where we have been competitive since day one. It was a shame to finish off the podium because I had pace and I felt good to fight for the victory, but it was a difficult race with the group and I had several things that made it very difficult for me to get in a good position in the last turns. Even so, we have achieved third position in the championship. I think that both the Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300 and I have improved a lot during the season and we are happy with our performance. I want to thank the team, Kawasaki and all the sponsors for supporting me in what I think has been the best season of my sports career.”
Koen Meuffels, stated: “I felt really great today but yesterday in qualification I felt not quite as good and had to start from P16. In the warm-up today we found the right settings and the race was great. I could gain position after position. To be second - and have my team-mate win the race and finish second in the championship – is great for my Kawasaki Motoport team.”
Bruno Ieraci, stated: “It was an amazing day for me. First row start yesterday and a first podium today so it was a perfect weekend for us. It is important for us and it was a great job from my Kawasaki GP Project team and this is the result. I am happy and to end the season this way is perfect.”