The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team's 2018 FIM World Superbike Championship campaign came to a premature conclusion in Qatar this evening, when WorldSBK Race 2 was cancelled on safety grounds shortly before the scheduled start. The news brought the curtain down on the team's most successful WorldSBK season to date, during which Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes racked up three race wins and a total of 14 podium finishes between them.
Van der Mark and Lowes were met by high winds, a sandstorm and then torrential rain as they arrived at the Losail International Circuit for the final race day of the 2018 season. The adverse weather saw a delay to the race program, with the WorldSBK riders taking to the track for 15 minutes of warm-up more than 90 minutes later than scheduled.
Following the session concerns were raised by the riders about the track conditions, which resulted in a further delay to the program as circuit staff worked to disperse the water running across the track in several areas.
Following the WorldSSP race, which was shortened from 15 to 12 laps, the safety commission made the decision to cancel WorldSBK Race 2, due to standing water on the track and after taking into account the differences in power and tyres of WorldSBK and WorldSSP machines.
The cancellation of the final race of the 2018 season meant van der Mark missed the chance, albeit an outside one, to challenge for second place in the championship standings, but the Pata Yamaha rider was happy to finish third, which exceeded the expectations he had at the start of the year.
For Lowes, whose speed and consistency in Qatar was impressive throughout the weekend, the cancellation of Race 2 meant he lost the opportunity to add another podium finish to the one he secured yesterday in Race 1 when he took a hard fought third place. The Pata Yamaha rider ended the season sixth in the championship standings with 248 points.
While Qatar marks the end of the 2018 FIM World Superbike season the work doesn't stop for the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team. The team head to Spain next month, where van der Mark and Lowes will commence their build up to the 2019 season.