Alex Lowes snatched a podium finish on the final lap of Friday's opening WorldSBK race in Qatar.

The Pata Yamaha rider spent most of the 17 laps in the wheeltracks of Eugene Laverty, launching his bid for third behind the Kawasakis of Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes at the start of the last lap.

Laverty re-passed Lowes, but the Englishman responded once again and held on to take his first rostrum since Laguna Seca in July.

"It's been a strong weekend so far, with a good qualifying session followed by an even better race," said Lowes, who started on the outside of the front row. "I was struggling for rear grip a bit in the race, which is something we need to work on for tomorrow, but towards the end I could see Eugene was also starting to struggle with the front.

"That opened the door, so I just dug in at the end to pass him for third. It's great to be back on the podium here in Qatar and it was fun to be involved in such a great fight.

"The team have done a great job this weekend and the race simulation yesterday definitely helped me with the feeling of the R1 on worn tyres. Now we just need to try and finish off the season with another podium tomorrow!"

Team-mate Michael van der Mark endured a tough opening race, having missed out on set-up time due to a crash in the early stages of FP1 that left him nursing a painful left wrist injury.

van der Mark managed to maintain contact with the battle for sixth during the race, then, as he crossed the line to start the final lap, the Ducatis of both Chaz Davies and Xavi Fores slowed after mistaking the race to be over, allowing van der Mark into seventh position.

"I got a good start, but then it was really busy on the opening laps and I wasn't able to make up any places," van der Mark said. "I felt reasonably comfortable on the bike and eventually managed to pass a few people, but then I started struggling to get the bike to turn and then drive out on the gas. I also had some pain in my wrist from half race distance onwards, which didn't really help.

"It was a really tough race, but at the end I gained two places on the final lap and that's really important for the championship, so we can be relatively happy with that. For tomorrow we need to make some improvements to the bike.

" If we can do that, and as long as I can get away from the second row of the grid in the leading group, then I'm confident we can fight for a top five finish."

The Dutchman remains third in the championship standings, 23 points behind second-placed Davies.


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