Sylvain Guintoli has been crowned 2014 World Superbike Champion after a dominant ride to victory in race two in Qatar. The Frenchman was in a class of his own under the floodlights at Losail and was never challenged after taking the lead on lap five with Tom Sykes surrendering his crown after following Jonathan Rea home in third.
After admitting to taking a set-up gamble after race one to improve the performance of his Kawasaki, all eyes were on Sykes and the Briton made a sensational start to grab the lead at turn one. Tom didn’t have to worry about any more interference from his teammate though with Loris Baz falling to eighth after a clash with pole-starter Davide Giugliano.
It quickly became apparent that Sykes didn’t have the pace to escape at the front with Rea swarming all over the back of the ZX-10R on the opening lap before diving past into turn one on lap two. Guintoli trailed Giugliano in fourth before breezing past the Ducati on lap three and already, the two title protagonists were in direct competition.
The fight between the title rivals was a rather short one though with the power of the Aprilia RSV4 giving Guintoli all the momentum he needed to outdrag the Kawasaki for second on lap four. Unsurprisingly, Rea’s Honda offered little resistance down the start/finish straight either and Sykes’ grip on the world crown was now looking precarious with a bike between himself and Guintoli.
Tom rectified that by outbraking Rea into turn one on lap eight but try as he might, the Yorkshireman couldn’t match the leading Aprilia in clear air. Sykes’ only hope now was a mistake from Sylvain or some Aprilia unreliability but neither were forthcoming. With over four seconds of empty tarmac behind him, Guintoli was able to savour the closing laps as he eased to the ninth SBK victory of his career and comfortably the most important of them all, the win that crowned him 2014 World Superbike Champion.
As his set-up gamble began to backfire, Sykes was overtaken for second by Rea but the outgoing champion bowed out like a champion, congratulating a tearful Guintoli on the slow-down lap. Marco Melandri closed the season with fourth and with Rea up in second, the Italian was demoted to fourth in the final championship standings.
Chaz Davies took fifth ahead of Toni Elias with Loris Baz recovering from his opening lap collision with Davide Giugliano by beating the Italian to seventh. Alex Lowes ended his first full SBK season with ninth but Eugene Laverty was unable to sign off his SBK career on a high after crashing out.