Spain’s Jordi Torres is celebrating his maiden World Superbike Championship win after a stunning ride up the order at the 13th and final round of the series at Losail at the weekend was capped off by prevailing in a thrilling last lap scrap with just-crowned 2015 champion Jonathan Rea.
Torres had only started sixth and made scant progress early on as he became mired in the chasing pack, while front row starts Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea escaped out front to establish a two second gap line astern.
Indeed, save for Chaz Davies getting the jump on Rea on a typically busy opening lap, the Ulsterman’s re-take on lap two would see him go with team-mate Sykes as the Kawasaki riders multiplied their advantage.
Behind them, Davies found himself fighting a rear-guard action on the Ducati, being overtaken by a feisty Alex Lowes on lap four as the Englishman brought the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki into an unfamiliar provisional podium position in third. However, his hopes of a famous swansong for Crescent as a Suzuki customer ended just two laps later when technical issues intervened and forced him to retire.
Nonetheless, Davies remained under pressure from the Aprilias behind, at this time being led by Leon Haslam ahead of Torres, and while the Englishman’s pass into turn one was rebuffed with an immediate re-take, Torres’ attempt at a move on lap seven was more decisive.
Placing Torres third with ten laps of the race remaining, he instantly set a course for the leaders – now two seconds in front -, pumping in a lap a full second quicker in clear air to announce his presence as a potential threat.
Indeed, up to this point Rea had been comfortably settled behind Sykes as the pair circulated in tandem. With Torres looming though, the Ulsterman was given the hurry up and went straight onto attack with an attempt to pass Sykes at turn seven.
However, Rea would get the braking wrong as he slipped up the inside, forcing Sykes to sit up, sending both wide and losing each time. With an evidently apologetic Rea now in the lead, Torres was nonetheless now well in the hunt as the top three came together with little more than six laps remaining.
Once on the tails of the Kawasaki pair, Torres promptly wasted no time in utilising the sheer top speed of the Aprilia RSV4, passing Sykes first on lap 11 with a slipstream into the opening turn and then Rea for the lead on lap 12 in a similar way.
Even so, Torres’ job was still far from done as his own rear tyre began to wane, albeit seemingly at a similar rate to the front tyre of Rea’s Kawasaki. Indeed, with Sykes slipping back, Rea set about keeping contact with Torres in preparation for a classic last lap effort in an attempt to deny his rival a famous first win.
However, while Rea did indeed save his best efforts until last, he couldn’t quite do enough to out-fox Torres, the Spaniard coming right back underneath Rea when he passed at turn seven before keeping his cool as the champion’s rather wild ‘around the outside’ effort at the final corner instead simply sent him wide enough on the exit to allow the Aprilia to surge past again.
A marvellous maiden win for the WSBK rookie, who arrived at Aprilia from stints in Moto2, his win is the first by a non-British rider in 2015 with just one race of the season remaining.
Rea had to settle for second place, though he may find the atmosphere rather frosty in the garage after Sykes – who finished up a distant third – rather obviously rejected his efforts to apologise for his earlier bungled pass on the warm-down lap, Rea responding himself by riding off in disdain.
Davies held on for fourth place, resisting the late attentions of Michael van der Mark, who made steady progress up from ninth on the grid to pass a fading Haslam in the closing stages.
Unable to make the most of his front row start following a poor getaway, Xavi Fores finished a lonely seventh, with David Salom coming through a busy mid-field to finish eighth, ahead of Leandro Mercado and outgoing champion Sylvain Guintoli.
Ayrton Badovini finished up 11th, with Randy de Puniet – who ran eighth at one stage – slipping back to 12th, ahead of Gabor Rizmayer, Christophe Ponsson and Gianluca Vizziello.
As well as Lowes, Leon Camier failed to finish after not getting off the line, while Matteo Baiocco didn’t take the start after injuring his foot in his Superpole fall.
1. Jordi Torres ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 17 laps
2. Jonathan Rea GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +0.726
3. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +6.579s
4. Chaz Davies GBR Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R +7.889s
5. Michael van der Mark NED PATA Honda CBR1000RR +13.512s
6. Leon Haslam GBR Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 +17.755
7. Xavi Fores ESP Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R +23.590s
8. David Salom ESP Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +26.417s
9. Leandro Mercado ARG Barni Ducati 1199R +26.489s
10. Sylvain Guintoli FRA PATA Honda CBR1000RR +27.979s
11. Ayrton Badovini ITA BMW Italia S1000RR +28.120s
12. Randy de Puniet FRA Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +34.064s
13. Gabor Rizmayer HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1m 09.123s
14. Christophe Ponsson FRA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 10.996s
15. Gianluca Vizziello ITA Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 13.892s
16. Alex Phillis AUS Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 30.797
17. Imre Toth HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1 lap
Did not finish
18. Niccolò Canepa ITA Althea Ducati 1199R 10 laps completed
19. Roman Ramos ESP GO Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R 7 laps completed
20. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 6 laps completed
21. Leon Camier GBR MV Agusta F4 RR 0 laps completed
1. Leon Haslam GBR Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 17 laps
2. Chaz Davies GBR Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R +0.110s
3. Tom Sykes GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R +0.388s
4. Michael van der Mark NED PATA Honda CBR1000RR +7.653s
5. Sylvain Guintoli FRA PATA Honda CBR1000RR +14.487s
6. Leandro Mercado ARG Barni Ducati 1199R +19.363s
7. Randy de Puniet FRA Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 +22.468s
8. Niccolò Canepa ITA Althea Ducati 1199R +22.530s
9. David Salom ESP Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +27.596s
10. Ayrton Badovini ITA BMW Italia S1000RR +29.294s
11. Christophe Ponsson FRA Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 02.181s
12. Gianluca Vizziello ITA Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1m 05.246s
13. Gabor Rizmayer HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1m 05.256s
14. Imre Toth HUN Team Toth BMW S1000RR +1 lap
15. Alex Phillis AUS Grillini Kawasaki ZX-10R +2 laps
Did not finish
16. Roman Ramos ESP GO Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R 16 laps completed
17. Jordi Torres ESP Red Devils Roma Aprilia RSV4 16 laps completed
18. Jonathan Rea GBR Kawasaki Racing ZX-10R 5 laps completed
19. Leon Camier GBR MV Agusta F4 RR 5 laps completed
20. Alex Lowes GBR Voltcom Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 0 laps completed
Did not start
Xavi Fores ESP Aruba.it Racing Ducati 1199R
Matteo Baiocco ITA Althea Ducati 1199R
World Championship final 2015 standings:
|1||Jonathan Rea||Kawasaki Racing Team||548|
|2||Chaz Davies||Aruba.it Ducati Racing||416|
|3||Tom Sykes||Kawasaki Racing Team||399|
|4||Leon Haslam||Aprilia Racing Red Devils||332|
|5||Jordi Torres||Aprilia Racing Red Devils1||247|
|6||Sylvain Guintoli||PATA Honda||218|
|7||Michael van der Mark||PATA Honda||194|
|8||Tati Mercado||Barni Ducati||142|
|9||Matteo Baiocco||Althea Ducati||139|
|10||Alex Lowes||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||135|
|11||Davide Giugliano||Aruba.it Ducati Racing||119|
|12||Ayrton Badovini||BMW Italia Motorrad||103|
|13||Leon Camier||MV Agusta RC||89|
|14||David Salom||Pedercini Kawasaki||83|
|15||Roman Ramos||GO Eleven Kawasaki||71|
|16||Niccolò Canepa||Team Hero EBR / Grillini Kawasaki / Althea Ducati||55|
|17||Nico Terol||Althea Ducati||54|
|18||Randy de Puniet||Voltcom Crescent Suzuki||52|
|19||Xavi Fores||Aruba.it Ducati Racing||47|
|20||Max Biaggi||Aprilia Racing Red Devils||36|
|21||Christophe Ponsson||Grillini Kawasaki / Pedercini Kawasaki||18|
|22||Santiago Barragan||Grillini Kawasaki||17|
|23||Michele Pirro||Aruba.it Ducati Racing||16|
|24||Troy Bayliss||Aruba.it Ducati Racing||15|
|25||Michel Fabrizio||Althea Ducati||13|
|26||Gianluca Vizziello||Grillini Kawasaki||13|
|27||Luca Scassa||Aruba.it Ducati Racing||10|
|28||Sylvain Barrier||BMW Italia Motorrad||10|
|29||Gabor Rizmayer||Team Toth BMW||9|
|30||Imre Toth||Team Toth BMW||7|
|31||Markus Reiterberger||VanZon BMW||5|
|32||Larry Pegram||Team Hero EBR||2|
|33||Jed Metcher||Race Center Kawasaki||2|
|34||Alex Phillis||Grillini Kawasaki||1|