Australian Alex Cudlin has once again proved a force to be reckoned with in the most recent round of the Qatar international Road Racing Championships.
Racing at the Losail Circuit over the weekend, Cudlin showed his fighting spirit and pace.
Topping first practice with a great time, Alex was happy with the feel of the bike and knew he could qualify even faster, with some minor adjustments to the suspension and set up of the bike.
Qualifying got underway and Alex was quick to assert his number 1 position by posting a fast on his 2nd flying lap. Alex wasn't happy to just settle with that time though and began to push even harder, eventually setting a lap time of 2:02.9, to claim pole position by a full second over nearest rival, Moto2 Grand prix rider, Mashel Al Niami.
The lap time Alex set was the fastest lap time ever recorded in the Qatar International Road Racing Championship history.
With the two races set for the following day, Alex knew that set up of the bike was crucial to win both races.
Race one got underway in the searing heat under the Qatar sun. Alex started well but was passed my Niami into the first turn on lap one.
Alex and Niami then exchanged positions in the following 2 laps before Alex made his move and pulled away.
Alex kept consistent lap times to eventually win by of big margin of 8.9 seconds over Niami.
With some 2 hours break between races Alex decided that the best option for race 2 was to leave the bike exactly the same. Unfortunately for Alex race 2 would be a much more difficult race due to rear tyre issues.
Alex again lined up for race 2 on pole position and knew from his race one form that he could win the 2nd race, however, on the start line, as the engines were running, a bike at the back of the grid had a problem and the riders were held on the grid for a considerable time. With hot engines and in the heat of the Qatar weather Alex's bike began to over heat, reaching 117c engine temp. With the race now underway, Alex had no option but to push on.
Taking the first 5 laps slow, to drop the engine temperature, main rival Niami escaped to the front. Alex then had to push to catch the 4 second deficit he faced.
Alex then mounted a strong attack to drag Niami in on lap 10.
With just 5 laps remaining Alex and Niami were locked in a fierce battle to win the final race of the day.
With 2 laps to go Alex led Niami on to the straight but the sheer speed of Niami's Honda was too much for Alex to compete with and Alex had to settle for crossing the line in 2nd position, 0.3 behind Niami.
"The weekend was good. Started off strong topping practice and then in qualifying I was able to set a really fast lap time. I knew I had a good chance of a double win, but in the end, it just wasn't to be" said a disappointed but positive Cudlin.
Cudlin now trails Niami by 30 points in the Championship. After just entering the Qatar International road racing Championship at the 5th race of the 14 race series, Alex's chances off winning the title are slim. However, if he can continue to win races anything can happen and Alex knows it's not over until the final race of the year.
Main Photo: Alex Cudlin