Sylvain Guintoli will head into the final race of the season just three points behind Tom Sykes after winning race one under the floodlights in Qatar. The Frenchman overhauled Loris Baz to claim a vital victory with Baz ignoring team orders to take second ahead of his teammate Tom Sykes, an act of defiance which could prove decisive in the final reckoning.
Baz was making headlines of a different sort earlier in the race, storming off into the distance after slipstreaming past Sykes and Jonathan Rea at the start of lap two. Guintoli lied fourth early on but breezed past his title rival on lap five before the Aprilia left Rea’s Honda trailing on the start/finish straight four laps later.
Sylvain didn’t find it quite as easy when he arrived on the tail of Baz’s Kawasaki but with five laps remaining, the straight line speed of the Aprilia RSV4 finally proved too much and Guintoli grabbed a lead he wouldn’t relinquish. Baz remained a comfortable second as the battle raged behind him.
Sykes had been running a solid fourth until a rampant Marco Melandri appeared on his tail and the Italian produced a typically forceful move at turn six to barge past, assisting his teammate in the process. The move certainly lit a fire in Sykes and the defending champion regained fourth with three laps to go before outdragging Rea’s underpowered PATA Honda to take third moments later. Having seen off the Ulsterman, all attention was on the Kawasaki ahead but Baz refused to ease off, an action Tom later described as “immature and disrespectful”.
Rea held onto fourth while polesitter Davide Giugliano claimed fifth with Toni Elias and Chaz Davies relegating Melandri to eighth as his Aprilia lost pace late in proceedings. The top ten was completed by Suzuki pair Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes.