The last race of the FIM Superbike World Championship ended in delight for Smalley star Leon Haslam, who stormed to victory under the floodlights in Qatar.
Globetrotting ‘Pocket Rocket’ Haslam fended off Welshman Chaz Davies after a race-long duel at the Losail International Circuit in Doha.
It earned the Aprilia Racing Team (Red Devils) rider his second success of the campaign, and clinched fourth place in the overall standings with 332 points. Davies, racing for Ducati, finished runner-up on 416 points, although both were a long way behind runaway champion Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki), who amassed 548 points.
Rea was hoping to post another victory to help him set a new outright points record. But his machine suffered a technical problem, and he had to pull out on the sixth lap, meaning that he failed to finish for the first time all year.
That paved the way for Haslam to repeat Aprilia’s success in the same finale last season as he took advantage of a last-turn mistake by Davies to pip him by 0.110 seconds.
The 32-year-old, who had not won a race since the opening round of the season at Phillip Island in Australia, said: “We knew that Aprilia would be fast here. After a disappointing first race, we worked hard to get back on track, and the changes we made for the second race turned things completely around.
“Everything worked great, and it wasn’t difficult to maintain a good pace. I kept on attacking down to the end when I pushed hard to finish my season the way it had begun.
“Racing at night at Doha makes everything that much more exciting.
“We’ve had our ups and downs this season, but we never let up. This win is just reward.”
Aprilia also took that opening race when Spaniard Jordi Torres flew home, keeping Rea at bay in another thrilling battle. Now Torres and Haslam are looking forward to the 2016 World Superbikes campaign, which is due to get under way next February.