The night sky, flood lights and an intense World Supersport title fight: what a perfect way to enjoy a Friday evening in Qatar. The FIM Supersport World Championship has enjoyed endless twists and turns throughout 2019 and the final Tissot Superpole session was now exception. With three title contenders all battling for the final pole position, it would eventually go to Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team).
After the opening ten minutes of the session had seen the times settle down and the grid begin to take some sort of shape, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was on top, with the Frenchman towing Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) around the Losail International Circuit. Provisionally second and third were Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) and Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA), the latter being the top Championship contender.
With most of the riders in the pits at the halfway point, Mahias and Caricasulo were enjoying a conversation coming into pitlane. Whether it was about helping each other out or if they’d had a squabble on circuit, nobody knows. But the added dynamic made for a tense final stint in the spotlights of Qatar. Having not matched Cluzel’s time from Thursday, there was plenty of pae left in the track.
Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was the first rider to get down to business and hit the top of the timesheets with the fastest lap of the weekend. Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) was right in behind the Swiss rider and took second, but there were strong times coming in from Mahias and Caricasulo – both riders looking to secure pole position and now, running separately on the track.
Mahias came to the fore and briefly went top, only for Caricasulo to better it, as the Italian came up from ninth to pole position. It was more bad news for Mahias, as he had a lap time cancelled and saw him drop to fifth. Joining Caricasulo on the front are his title rivals, Randy Krummenacher and Jules Cluzel – all three WorldSSP title contenders in the top three positions – would that be how the standings would read come Saturday evening?
Corentin Perolari secured fourth place with a good lap time, ahead of a disconsolate Lucas Mahias, down in fifth. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was back inside the top six and completed the second row, after what had been a relatively quiet weekend up until that moment, pipping the final second row spot away at the dying moments.
Nabbed right at the end, Badovini heads up row three from seventh on the grid, whilst Isaac Viñales’ (Kallio Racing) podium charge looks set to come from eighth on the grid – the Spaniard on the rostrum in the last two rounds. Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) was once again in ninth place, whilst an injured and recovering Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) completed the top ten.
Outside the top ten, Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) was only 11th, ahead of the top Honda of Jules Danilo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda). Home-hero wildcard and Qatari Supersport Champion Saeed Al Sulaiti (QMMF Racing Team) was 13th. Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) was 14th.
Pole position – Federico Cariasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
“I am really happy. It was difficult for me in the beginning, but I was able to learn a lot in the first part of the qualifying. We found a good setup for the bike, and I was able to push to the limit. It was important for me starting from the first row, and we ended in pole position, which is even better”.
#QATWorldSBK WorldSSP at Losail International Circuit:
1. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) 2’01.219
2. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) 2’01.493
3. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) 2’01.652