Jonathan Rea was denied the chance to set a new World Superbike points record following a rare issue with his factory Kawasaki in the final race of the season in Qatar.
Rea needed 25 points to eclipse American star Colin Edwards’ 2002 haul and was on target to achieve the feat under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Doha after claiming 20 points for his runner-up finish in race one.
The 28-year-old was locked in battle with Aprilia’s Jordi Torres in the opener and the duo traded blows until the young Spaniard came out on top, winning by 0.7 seconds to secure his maiden victory in the class.
Tom Sykes finished third on the second of the KRT machines behind Rea, with Welsh rider Chaz Davies fourth on the Aruba.it Ducati Panigale R.
Rea went into race two on Sunday night requiring five more points to put the icing on the cake of a memorable season, but was hit by misfortune when his ZX-10R developed a problem while he was running in podium contention, forcing him out of the race on lap six.
“Honestly, I’m not even sure what happened and the mechanics and technicians are just checking the bike,” Rea said.
“It seems like when I entered one corner I had a lot of locking from the rear and then when I exited, the bike was slowing.
“I’m not sure if it’s an electrical problem or a technical problem, but my guys will do their best to find out the cause of the issue,” he added.
“We can’t be too disheartened because the championship is already finished many weeks ago but I’m really frustrated because my target was to score the most points in a season and now with this issue, it was out of our control, but we have to look back on an incredible season and be happy with our efforts.”
There is an obvious element of disappointment for the Ballyclare man over his bad luck in the final race of the 2015 championship, but what a year it has been for Rea, who took 14 victories on his way to becoming world champion.
The Ulster rider floored his rivals in a dream maiden season for new team Kawasaki, gelling with the machine from the off and taking full advantage of a proven championship-winning package to capture the World Superbike crown.
With Rea out of the running in race two, Aprilia’s Leon Haslam and Davies slogged it out at the front, with Sykes hot on their heels but unable to land a telling blow in the closing stages.
Haslam timed his move to perfection on the final lap at the last corner, squeezing underneath Davies and carrying his momentum onto the straight, where the speed of the RSV4 enabled him to keep the Ducati rider at bay.
Sykes was a close third as the trio were separated by 0.3 seconds at the finish.
Race one winner Torres crashed out of fourth.