Saturday night’s last race of the World Superbike season has been called off after appalling weather conditions left the Losail International Circuit in a condition deemed too dangerous for it to go ahead.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon the city of Doha and its outskirts were hit by an enormous sandstorm followed by strong winds and some of the heaviest rain the region has ever witnessed. Roads were left flooded and littered in debris while the circuit suffered significant damage and items were literally thrown through the air.
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The metal structure of the Paddock Show was destroyed while a flat screen television flew across the paddock and slammed into the pit building. The wooden podium structure was left in tatters while free-standing spotlights and their metal poles were brought to the ground.
On track, gravel traps filled up with water. Once the rain had stopped, a strong breeze quickly dried the asphalt surface but the positive cambers of corners such as Turns 6 and 15 meant water from the gravel flowed across the circuit.
A shortened Supersport race was staged, riders adopting much caution in the worst affected zones which included distinctly wet patches on the start/finish straight where they were forced to roll off the throttle to prevent aquaplaning.
In the TV compound, a new satellite system was drafted in at the last moment which allowed series organisers Dorna to stream the Supersport race to the world albeit with a limited number of trackside cameras, many of which had been destroyed by the mixture of sand and water which so badly hit the venue just hours before.
Following the Supersport race, the Safety Commission (Jonathan Rea, Chaz Davies, Eugene Laverty and Leon Camier plus members of Race Direction) convened
"We checked the track and saw that conditions were deteriorating, so we had a meeting with the Safety Commission representatives," explained Gregorio Lavilla, WorldSBK Sporting Director. "The track was worse than during the Supersport race. All of the riders agreed that, in the best interests of the sport (safety), we should not run the Superbike race. It was a unanimous decision."
MCN understands the main concern amongst the riders was the braking zone of Turn 1; as the Superbikes brake earlier than the Supersport machines due to their greater top speeds, this would have been precisely where standing water was on-track and would have almost certainly caused accidents.
The cancellation of Race 2 means the v-twin Ducati bowed out a day earlier than planned, while Tom Sykes missed a final chance to race with Kawasaki. Tonight’s events also meant Chaz Davies was confirmed as championship runner-up ahead of Michael van der Mark while four-time World Champion Jonathan Rea was deprived a shot of establishing a new record of 18 race wins in a season, having on Friday equaled Doug Polen’s 1991 tally.