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31 Heinäkuu 2022

Season Restart Brings Race Two Win For Kawasaki

Having not raced in the WorldSSP300 championship since June the massed ranks of Kawasaki Ninja 400 riders could not wait to get back into action at the endlessly flowing Autodrom Most in Czechia.

With Superpole qualifying and then Race One on Saturday 30 July, followed by Race Two on Sunday 31, there were plenty of opportunities to shine during the fifth of eight championship rounds.

The brightest Kawasaki light in Superpole Qualifying was Kevin Sabatucci (Kawasaki GP Project) who took pole position, his first in WorldSSP300. Spaniard Alex Millan (SWM Kawasaki Racing) was third fastest in Superpole and Australian Harry Khouri (Team109 Kawasaki) fourth.

After a fall of rain shortly before the start of the race some riders opted for wet tyres, others for dry weather options. The latter was the best choice for the prevailing conditions, which cost some big name Kawasaki riders dearly. It also delivered opportunity for others.

In the first race of the weekend Marc Garcia enjoyed a clear win after Sabatucci and local rider Petr Svoboda (Accolade Smrz Racing Kawasaki) tangled on lap two and both crashed out, with Dirk Geiger (Füsport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) also a faller.

With two potential podium riders out of contention it was 15th placed qualifier Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing Kawasaki) who came through the pack to take a second place trophy for Kawasaki. A wise tyre choice helped him but his forward pace and determination counted in his favour after all 12 laps.

Daniel Mogeda (Team109 Kawasaki) was only 0.185 seconds off the podium in fourth place. His team-mate Khouri was seventh, but there was almost nothing in it from second place to seventh. Typically close WorldSSP300 racing was in evidence again.

Troy Alberto (Füsport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) was ninth and Jose Luis Perez (Accolade Smrz Racing Kawasaki) made it five Kawasakis in the top ten places in Race One.

Race winner and podium finisher in 2022, Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki), was 13th in Race One, replicating his qualifying position.

Championship contender Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki) made up for being only 15th in Race One with a dazzling victory in Race Two, holding off the championship leader Alvaro Diaz by almost three seconds - albeit after only six laps of race action.

The first attempted start to Race Two saw two riders, Indy Offer and Ruben Bijman (MTM Kawasaki) collide on the startline and neither be able to make the scheduled nine-lap restart.

Steeman came through from 16th to the lead in confident fashion. When the reg flags came out once again, to stop the race due to another accident behind the leading group, the race was called and Steeman was declared the winner.

Di Sora’s fortunes improved for Race Two and he finished fourth, but it is Steeman who is the highest ranked Kawasaki rider overall, in third place in the championship points table - 39 points behind the lead with three rounds and six individual races to go.

Behind Di Sora in Race Two there was a mid-scale Kawasaki festival going on, with Perez Gonzalez fifth, Geiger sixth, Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki) seventh and Sabatucci eighth. Local rider Svoboda was 11th.

Alvaro Diaz leads the Riders’ Championship standings with 161 points, Marc Garcia has 137, Steeman 122, Di Sora 117, Okaya 101 and De Cancellis 94.

In the Manufacturers’ Championship standings there is 20 point gap for Kawasaki riders to make up, with many opportunities to score points before the end of the season in October.

After Most there will be a significant summer break in the WorldSSP300 action, with the next round taking place at Magny Cours in France, between 9-11 September.

Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “The Superpole qualifying did not go well. In free practice, I took first place but due to the rain during qualifying, I could not hold on to it. My starting position was P16. During the first race, we made the mistake to go on rain tyres. As a result, I could not achieve a top result. I was able to put this right during Race Two where I was able to take the victory!”

Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “I had a good Friday, I was quick and found the right pace but unfortunately today was a very unlucky day. We struggled with the strategy and with the weather conditions, so we just had few minutes to get a laptime and it wasn’t very good. In the race we just made the wrong choice with rain tyre. The track was dry and I couldn’t do more than finish the race in P20. In Race Two I had a good start and was able to fight for the podium. I was  in P7 catching the first riders but then the race was red flagged. I am disappointed because we could have done more this weekend, but we are strong and we will fight for top places at Magny Cours.”

Ruben Bijman (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “Saturday was a difficult day due to the weather conditions. The opposite of Friday where I showed I could ride for a podium. Due to the wrong choice of tyres it was not possible to set a top time in qualifying. The race was difficult due to the rain. In the second race, I unfortunately crashed in the first lap.”

Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing Kawasaki), stated: “Saturday’s race was difficult even if I am very happy to take the podium. The track conditions made it difficult to decide which tyres to use, but in the end we made the best choice. At the beginning I didn't have good confidence with the tyres, but then lap after lap I found my pace and in the final part of the race I managed to impose myself in the sprint to the line. I want to thank the team because we did a great job. Thanks to my family and sponsors for their support.”