Aprilia’s Sylvain Guintoli is the new World Superbike champion after doing the double under the floodlights at Qatar. His main rival, Kawasaki’s Tom Sykes missed out on back-to-back title wins after finishing the final race of the year in third.
This is Guintoli's first ever world championship, clinching the title with a six point advantage over reigning champ Sykes. Pata Honda’s Jonathan Rea ended his season on the podium after crossing the finishing line in second, and snatching third overall in the championship from Aprilia's Marco Melandri.
At first it was Sykes who got the hole-shot as Baz and Haslam went wide on track, with Rea, Giugliano and Guintoli never far off the pace of the Kawasaki man. Then going into the first corner on the second lap Rea went into the lead, getting the better of Sykes.
But Guintoli was not giving up on the title and went into third on lap three overtaking Giugliano and soon had Sykes as his next target. But while all that was going on Voltcom Suzuki’s Eugene Laverty crashed on turn 6, putting an abrupt end to his World Superbike season.
The Frenchman was on a roll and made a move on Sykes with twelve laps remaining, and then out-paced Rea to take the lead once again and powered on ahead. But Huddersfield’s finest was not down and out and got inside the slipstream of Rea on the straight to go into second on lap eight – and the fight for the 2014 title was definitely on.
With nine laps remaining Guintoli had a 1.5 second lead over Sykes and set a new lap record – of a 1’57.906. Elsewhere it was déjà vu with the Ducati pairing of Davies and Giugliano. Once again they were battling it out with each other to bag sixth, with the fiery Italian having the slight edge over the Welshman on lap eleven.
Rea still had a fighting spirit and overtook Sykes on turn five and stormed on ahead, after it looked what appeared to have tyre issues with his Kawasaki. On the penultimate lap Guintoli was having a lonely race at the front and remained unchallenged by Rea and Sykes, and extended his lead by 4.6 seconds.
On the final lap Guintoli crossed the line in a dominant fashion followed by Rea and Sykes. Marco Melandri finished his season in fourth, followed by Davies who got the better of Giugliano to bag fifth, followed by Elias. Voltcom Suzuki’s Alex Lowes and Pata Honda’s Leon Haslam rounded up the top ten.