Cluzel sets the Pace on Opening Day in Qatar
While the Bardahl Evan Bros. Yamaha Supported WorldSSP riders, Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo, kept a wary eye on each other, it was championship outsider Jules Cluzel who topped the timesheet by 0.7s on the opening day in Qatar aboard his GMT94 Yamaha YZF-R6.
The Frenchman trails championship leader Krummenacher by 22 points, making it mathematically possible for him to be crowned as champion on Saturday evening, but the gap is wide enough that Cluzel remains the only one of the three title contenders not feeling immense pressure ahead of the final race.
The GMT94 Yamaha rider is focused only on adding a fourth race win to his 2019 tally this weekend in Qatar, knowing full well that this may not be enough on its own to secure him his first World Championship crown. Cluzel will be relying on his rapidly improving teammate, Corentin Perolari, for assistance in Saturday's race but, even then, the odds are stacked against him.
Caricasulo was the fastest of the two Bardahl Yamaha riders on the opening day, with the Italian finishing second on combined times. Isaac Viñales, a podium finisher in the last two outings, was fourth aboard the Kallio Racing Yamaha YZF-R6, while championship leader Krummenacher was fifth.