Michael van der Mark and his Pata Honda team-mate Lorenzo Zanetti are looking forward to the 11th and final round of the 2014 World Supersport championship which takes place at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar this weekend (31 October ‰ÛÒ 2 November).
Van der Mark, who turned 22 last Sunday, secured the 2014 title in round nine of the series at Jerez in Spain at the beginning of September. Such has been this season's form of the new World Supersport champion that, apart from sliding off in the opening round at Phillip Island in Australia, the Dutch ace has finished no lower than second in the nine races since, notching up five race wins along the way.
"I had a nice birthday with the family last weekend but now it‰Ûªs back to work for the last race of the season." Van der Mark said. "I‰Ûªve never been to Qatar before but I‰Ûªm really excited about racing there this weekend.
"I like learning new circuits and it looks like a great track that should suit our bike. Also, riding at night is going to be a new experience that I‰Ûªm really looking forward to. I understand that the sand in the desert can create some problems with grip, but it‰Ûªs the same for everyone. This will also be my last race on the CBR600RR Supersport machine, so it might get a little emotional!
Zanetti, 27, has not quite been able to match his team-mate‰Ûªs pace and consistency this season but he took a well-earned and popular victory of his own in his home race at Imola in May. The Italian is still in with a chance of securing third place in the championship standings but needs a maximum points haul in this final round.
"I raced under the lights in Qatar in 125cc GPs so I have some experience." Zanetti explained. "I like the circuit very much but it will be quite different on the CBR600RR, compared to a 125cc two-stroke!
"I still have the target of finishing in the top three this season but I know it will be difficult. For this to happen I must win the race or at least finish second and hope that Marino cannot score many points. But I have a strong motivation for a good result this weekend: I want to finish the season in a strong way for Honda and my sponsors who have helped me so much and, also, it‰Ûªs the last race for my crew chief Bjorn Maathuis.
"With Mikey‰Ûªs championship and race wins, it‰Ûªs been a great year for the whole team so we want to finish it on a high."
This weekend's event marks a return of the World Supersport championship to the 5.38km Losail International Circuit for the first time since 2009, when the race victory was taken by Eugene Laverty on a Honda CBR600RR. However, this final race of the 2014 season will be the first time that a race the series has taken place under floodlights.
Top Image: Pata Honda World Supersport Riders Relish Desert challenge