Press releases from the teams and organizers after the first day of practice at the Motorland Aragon circuit:
#AragonWorldSBK– Day 1
Melandri maintains lead on Day 1 at Aragon
Rain returned at the start of FP3, with only one change in the top ten from FP2
Melandri mastered tricky conditions in Spain
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) kept his Friday lead ahead of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), as the Free Practice Three at MotorLand Aragon proved to be short-lived. The black clouds that crept over the five-kilometre track during the WorldSSP FP2 opened up just as the WorldSBK riders had started to record times. As such, just ten riders managed to improve on their previous best laps.
The session started with no issues, weather or other, with every rider bar Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) setting out around the track. Fifteen minutes later, however, with rain drops coming down harder and heavier, everyone had made it back to their boxes. Only a small group made it back to the track at any point of the remainder of the session, Loris Baz (GULF Althea BMW Racing Team) running for the last ten minutes.
As such, there were no changes across the top four, with Melandri, Rea, Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Davies hanging onto their previously recorded positions, and confirming that the KRTs and Ducatis are the bikes to beat over this weekend.
Behind them, local rider Jordi Torres (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) recorded the fastest lap of the FP3 with the fastest times in the first three sectors, and managing to move up a place to fifth, ahead of Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) who also improved on his FP2 time by four tenths. Behind him remained his teammate Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) in seventh, with leading independent rider Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team) in eighth after also failing to improve on his FP2.
The biggest change from FP2 to FP3 came in the final two top-ten positions, with Lorenzo Salvadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) and Leon Camier (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team) both recording better times and just edging Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Junior Team) and the final Panigale into 11th. The Italian, in his Aragon WorldSBK debut, will be disappointed after remaining amongst the fastest riders for most of the first two sessions, and will have to fight back from Superpole 1.
Baz (13th), despite riding out for the end of the session, could not improve his times and will also fight to get into the top 12, alongside Davide Giugliano (Milwaukee Aprilia), who finished twelfth in his 2018 debut. The last non-independent rider, Jake Gagne (Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team), moved up from 17thto 14th, still not enough to make it into tomorrow’s Superpole 2.
#AragonWorldSBK at MotorLand Aragon: Friday
1. Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) 1:50:652
2. Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.039
3. Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +0.197
Positive start for the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team at Aragon: Melandri 1st and Davies 4th in Friday's free-practice sessions
The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team resumed action at Aragon (Spain), which hosts the first European round of the 2018 WorldSBK Championship after an overseas start in Australia and Thailand. On the track on the outskirts of Alcañiz, Marco Melandri posted the provisional best time in Friday's free-practice sessions with a 1:50.652.
The Italian, as most of the riders, registered his personal best during FP2 in dry track conditions, while FP1 and FP3 were characterized by intermittent rain and little track action. Chaz Davies, who already collected six wins on the Spanish track, focused on rear-tire comparisons to evaluate the different compounds available, posting a personal best of 1:51.125 during FP2 to clinch 4th position. Both Davies and Melandri qualified directly for Superpole 2.
Michael Ruben Rinaldi enjoyed a positive debut with the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team. The Italian rookie finished the opening day with a 1:51.954 in 11th position overall. The Aruba.it Racing - Ducati and the Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team will resume action on Saturday, April 14th, at 08:45 (CET) for the fourth free-practice session ahead of Superpole and Race 1, which is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time.
Marco Melandri (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #33) - 1:50.652 (1st)
"We worked really hard to solve the issues we encountered at Buriram, and today the bike was much more stable. We still need to verify a few things, but the feeling has improved significantly. The weather complicated our program a bit, because we started off in the wet, then we found ideal conditions in FP2, and then the track was damp in the afternoon. So, tomorrow we'll have to take a bit of a gamble with the setup but especially the tires, because the soft and medium rear behave quite differently. Anyway, I'm confident we can be competitive."
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #7) - 1:51.125 (4th)
"Mixed conditions slowed us a down a bit, but we got down to business in FP2, which was OK. We are still looking for more stability, and we changed the setup for FP3 but unfortunately we had a last-minute issue and we couldn't go out early on, when it was dry. Fortunately, we didn't miss much track time. I'm pretty confident with the direction we're going in, in the past we've raced with a similar setup here at Aragon with success, but FP4 will be really important. I'm looking forward to the battle."
Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing - Junior Team #21) - 1:51.954 (11th)
"I'm quite happy with this first day, overall it's been a positive one. We started off well in the wet, and also during FP2 I had a good feeling with the bike. Unfortunately, in the afternoon the rain slowed us down a bit, but I'm confident we have plenty of room for improvement. First of all I want to make it to Superpole 2 and see how we do compared with the top riders."
Strong Start In Mixed Conditions For KRT
WorldSBK riders Jonathan Rea (KRT) and Tom Sykes (KRT) overcame the complications of a day of mixed weather at Motorland Argon to go second and third fastest respectively in combined qualifying. They will now start the Superpole 2 qualifying session tomorrow in positive mood, ready to gain the best possible starting position for the 18-lap opening race later on Saturday afternoon.
With new regulations in place that limit the top revs of the Kawasaki more than other manufacturers of the same engine configuration in 2018, finding optimum gear and engine relationships for every corner is sometimes a tough challenge. The technical staff steadily improved Jonathan and Tom’s overall machine set-up today, despite a wet track surface affecting FP1 and FP3 at times.
Rea finished his day satisfied that real progress had been made, and he was only 0.039 seconds behind the fastest rider, Marco Melandri. Sykes was just 0.197 seconds from the quickest time, with the next nearest rider almost half a second from the best rider on day one.
The task for each KRT rider is now to make final preparations in the final FP4 session early on Saturday morning, and then gain a front row starting position in Superpole 2, to help ensure a clean start in race one. The race start is scheduled for 13.00 local time, with race two taking place at the same time on Sunday 15th April.
Should Sykes score the Superpole win on Saturday it would make him the stand alone record holder for WorldSBK pole wins, a status he currently shares with Troy Corser.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was a really difficult first day because of the weather. We arrived here for the first session with the gearbox so far out and I was in between gears in all these second gear corners, which are so important or a good lap time here. We tried to find a good compromise in the gearing and in the second session it started to feel a bit better. The difference between all the tyre options that Pirelli has brought here is quite large. The tyres are the standard SC1, the development SC1 and then the standard SC0 race tyre and the difference between them is large. So it may be difficult tomorrow because we have not had a lot of time to set the bike up and do a race simulation - but I feel quite good with the bike anyway. We had ten minutes or so in FP3 before the rain came again and I feel we improved the bike again. We are going a little bit into the unknown now but I am happy with the bike at least. I am ready to try and have a good Superpole before race one.”
Tom Sykes, stated: “I feel we are prepared for the race tomorrow. Not too bad on the first day because the bike is working well and I feel we have good speed, to be honest. It is just a shame that the third free practice session was not as good. The weather conditions made it almost not worth doing for anybody. I will be speaking to my crew chief Marcel and the boys in the garage later as we have a couple of things to iron out and fine tune. It is relatively positive that we are good to go again on the third different circuit of the season. It should be better weather for tomorrow, but you just never know here. I think we are in a little micro climate at Motorland and we will get what we are given. The set-up is there in preparation for tomorrow and race one.”
Camier tenth overall in rain-riddled Aragón WorldSBK practice
MotorLand Aragón, Spain
The opening day of action at Motorland Aragón was ruled by unsettled weather, as Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team riders Leon Camier and Jake Gagne took on the challenging conditions to end the day in tenth and fourteenth place respectively on combined times.
Friday practice at Aragón proved to be a frustrating affair for the riders, as the mixed weather conditions made it difficult to find a rhythm. Having sampled both wet and dry conditions in the opening two sessions, both riders were able to improve their pace in the dry opening stanza of Free Practice 3 before the re-appearance of rain scuppered their chances of further improving their standing. At the end of the day Camier’s best lap time of 1’51.818 left him one second off the top of the timesheet, while Gagne’s personal best was a 1’52.778.
With further rain a possibility over the remainder of the weekend, the wet first practice session gave the riders a valuable opportunity to assess the Fireblade’s performance in wet conditions at Aragón and Camier proved that the CBR1000RR was effective in the wet as well as the dry, finishing third quickest in the wet Free Practice 1 session.
The next WorldSBK session is tomorrow morning’s Free Practice 4 session at 08:45 local time (GMT +2) before qualifying takes place with Superpole 1 at 10:30 and Superpole 2 at 10:55. Race 1 commences at 13:00.
Leon Camier 2
We were able to try a few different things today with the Fireblade but unfortunately the weather didn't help us as we could've done with some more dry track time. The bike was amazing in the wet this morning and I felt comfortable right away, then in the dry we made some good changes to the bike but unfortunately the rain in FP3 meant we couldn't try for a quick lap on new tyres. We've got a bit of work to do before qualifying and Race 1 but I think we've got a good direction to go with setting wise, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
Jake Gagne 45
It was an interesting day with the weather as it meant we had to try a lot of different settings on the bike. It was good to get some wet track time this morning and I felt I could get up to speed on the bike right away. When the track was dry we were able to try a few different things and by FP3 I felt we made a big step with the bike, so it was unfortunate that the rain then came as I was hoping for more dry track time. Overall though I felt we made a lot of progress during the three sessions and I'm feeling good ahead of qualifying and the race.
- Red Bull Honda World Superbike Team
The weather today was quite challenging for the team and the riders, however the base setting of the CBR1000RR Fireblade here is working quite well as evidenced by how quick Leon was straight away in the wet morning session. It was a shame that we only had one fully dry session as it meant we were limited in trying different settings and also couldn't try to see what our one lap pace on new tyres was, so this leaves us with a bit of work to do in FP4 tomorrow morning. However, both Leon and Jake are pleased with how the bike is performing here at Aragon, we just need to make some small adjustments and hopefully we can make a good step tomorrow.
Nothing to Separate Lowes & van der Mark on Friday in Aragon
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team got off to a positive start on Friday in Aragon at Round 3 of the 2018 Motul FIM Superbike World Championship despite mixed weather conditions. Alex Lowes ended the day in sixth overall on the combined timesheets after making the most of the dry track time available in FP3 before the rain returned to set a 1:51.347, 0.695s off the fastest rider. Incredibly, this was exactly the same time as his teammate Michael van der Mark's fastest lap set in FP2, with both riders making it through to Saturday's SP2.
It was mission accomplished for the Pata Yamaha team on Friday at Motorland Aragon, as Early rain meant that FP1 was held on a wet track and then the showers returned 10 minutes into FP3, with FP2 the only fully dry session. After the stifling heat and humidity in Thailand at the last round, the changeable conditions that greeted the team in Spain were quite a change. The rain showers made it hard for everyone to find a good setup and meant that the first priority for the team was to ensure both riders made it through to Superpole 2 on Saturday, a target that was successfully achieved.
Lowes is aiming to continue the podium form that saw him finish in a superb third place in Race 2 at Buriram, but having received a number of updates in Buriram, it was important he got track time with his Pata Yamaha R1 to find the best setup for the Motorland Aragon track. Unfortunately, a wet FP1 meant that he did not get the dry track time desired, with the 27-year-old British rider ending the session in ninth with a 2:04.827 (+2.549s). By the time FP2 came around, the sun was shining and the track was dry, with Lowes setting a 1:51.727 (+1.075s) as he started to settle into a rhythm. FP3 began dry, but with ominous storm clouds appearing in the sky, the 2013 British Superbike Champion knew he didn't have much time before the rain came. He went out right at the start of the session pushing hard, improving to a 1:51.347 - amazingly matching his teammate's time from FP2 exactly - to end the day sixth overall on the combined timesheets, 0.695s off Marco Melandri, ready to battle in SP2 on Saturday.
Van der Mark was another looking to carry his stunning podium momentum from the previous round to Aragon after he stormed to second in Race 2 in Thailand. The 25-year-old Dutch rider was quick straight away in the wet conditions of FP1, battling in the top three for most of the session before ending it in fifth place with a 2:03.427. The dry conditions that greeted everyone for FP2 also saw him hit the ground running, setting a 1:51.347 - his fastest time of the day - and impressing once again. While trying to work on the perfect setup for Saturday's qualifying and race, he only managed five laps in FP3 before the rain came, with his time from FP2 seeing him end the day in seventh due to his second fastest lap time being slower than his teammate Lowes. The 2014 WorldSSP Champion knows there is work to do still but is confident of being able to fight at the front on Saturday.
The Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team return to action at Motorland Aragon at 8:45 am local time (CEST) on Saturday morning for FP4, with SP2 scheduled for 10:55 am and the 18-lap Race 1 due to start at 1 pm.
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 6th - 1:51.347
"To be honest, my feeling with the bike has been quite tough today. I don't feel as good as I expected and I was just a bit too slow for where I want to be. I have a few areas I want to improve tomorrow and I am looking forward to trying to change the bike a bit, improve the feeling and have a really good race on Saturday. It is important for us to build on our momentum from Phillip Island and Thailand. We have had quite a few upgrades at the last round, as well as at the start of the season, and that fact, plus the new regulations, make Friday quite stressful for us because we have not been able to test here with the new regulations so we are having to start from scratch. Also, with the weather today we lost quite a bit of track time, which can make it hard work but, as I said, we have areas to improve so while my pace was a bit slow today, let's see what we can do tomorrow!"
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team - 7th - 1:51.347
"I am really happy as this morning the track was wet and straight from the start we were fast. We improved lap by lap and it was good to do a wet session with the bike and get the feeling with our setup. FP2 was completely dry and, once again, I felt really good from the start. Then I had a point where I struggled a bit but at the end, we put some fresh tyres on and I improved a lot, although I was still struggling a bit to get the bike stopped. We tried to improve the feeling in this area in FP3, but we only managed a few laps and I didn't feel any better, so, we have a lot of work to do and it will be hard to be completely ready for tomorrow as we only have a short session in the morning. If you looked how we managed to start every session today and be quick right from the word go, I think we can be quite happy!"
Paul Denning - Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team Principal
"From the heat and humidity of Thailand to arriving to snow here at Aragon on Wednesday was quite a contrast and the poor European weather has affected all the team's setup work today. Nonetheless, we are relatively satisfied with what we have achieved. Michael was particularly comfortable in the wet and immediately fast in FP2 in the dry. Alex struggled a little bit more with the balance of his R1 in the dry FP2 but even in the very limited amount of laps before the rain came in FP3, he managed significant improvements and, more importantly, improved his own confidence and feedback from the bike. It's going to be an interesting Race 1 tomorrow. Effectively there is a completely meaningless FP4 at 8:45 am tomorrow morning, a couple of laps in SP2, then we race. In this kind of situation, it is a massive challenge for the team and the engineers to take the limited amount of data they have and give the riders the best bike they can for Race 1. As I say, it is challenging but we believe at Pata Yamaha that we have got a very good base machine and we can be up amongst the front-runners both in qualifying and the race tomorrow."
Milwaukee Aprilia make Superpole 2 cut in mixed conditions at MotorLand Aragon
Motorland Aragon 13 / 04 / 2018
Free Practice Report
Milwaukee Aprilia began their European WorldSBK campaign with P9 and P12 for their riders Savadori and Giugliano at the MotorLand Aragon circuit
Free Practice 1 times were unrepresentative with the entire field covered by 7 seconds, after heavy rainfall on Friday morning meant that the session ran in very wet and cold conditions. Low grip on track determined that the riders headed out on full wet tyres as they explored the limits of grip, with stand-in rider Davide Giugliano getting his first experience of the Aprilia.
As sunshine broke through in the afternoon, FP2 gave the field a chance for dry running and an opportunity to fit slick tyres for the first time. Rider Lorenzo Savadori ended the session P10, shadowed by Davide in P11 as the field closed up.
FP3 began in the dry, but saw light rain and strong winds in the first half of the session that persisted to the end. The riders stayed on slicks but the mixed conditions urged caution, and Lorenzo and Davide ended the session P5 and P13 respectively.
Lorenzo progresses straight to Saturday's Superpole 2 session with a combined time of 1'51.811, and Davide must take part in Superpole 1 after his combined time of 1'52.535.
Free Practice 4 begins on Saturday 14th at 08:45 local time (GMT +1) ahead of Superpole 1 at 10:30, Superpole 2 at 10:55 and Race 1 at 13:00.
Lorenzo Savadori #32 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
Combined result: 1'51.811 - P9
Superpole 2 automatic entry
"We need to do a bit of work overnight, because at Chang we were able to make the bike easier to change and to make it more comfortable for me. We have some good ideas for what we can do tomorrow.
The weather today was not easy for us with wet then dry and wet conditions, but for me the bike was the same in all conditions and needs some improvements. We are still looking for the solution but I think we can have some good results on Saturday.
It’s good to have Davide with the team also. He is a good guy and a fast rider, and I’m happy to work with him. I wish also to Eugene a quick recovery.”
Davide Giugliano #34 - Aprilia RSV4-RF
Combined result: 1'52.535 - P12
Superpole 1 entry
"Today was my first experience with the Milwaukee Aprilia bike on track, and for me it was really good. The bike feels nice to ride and it has good power, so I'm happy with it.
The track conditions were pretty difficult today, up and down. In FP1 the most, there was so much water and it was not easy for my first laps on the bike! I can’t say yet how tomorrow will be, we still have another practice session before Superpole and the race so we will just see how it goes in the morning first.
I feel confident though, the crew worked really hard today and they are great guys. I want to say thanks to Shaun and to the team for all the help, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”
Gulf Althea BMW on track at Motorland Aragón
Alcaniz (Spain), Friday 13 April 2018
The third round of the 2018 Superbike World Championship got underway today at Motorland Aragón, in Spain. The Gulf Althea BMW Racing team have completed an encouraging first day, on track with SBK rider Loris Baz and young Stock1000 entry Alessandro Delbianco.
SBK: Baz was out on the Spanish track for the day’s three timed practices. Making progress throughout the day, the Frenchman worked hard to find the best set-up for his BMW S1000 RR at the Aragón track. Seventh at the end of session one, which took place on a wet track, he lowered his time in session two, positioning thirteenth with a 1’52.678. Unfortunately, the third session was conditioned by rain, preventing almost all of the riders, Baz included, from improving any further. The Gulf Althea BMW rider will therefore take part in tomorrow’s Superpole1, having closed in thirteenth place today.
STK1000: Delbianco made his BMW debut today, enthusiast about competing in an international series for the first time. During the first wet practice, the Italian started to build confidence with his new bike and the Spanish track. He wasted no time, ending the opening session in third place, thanks to a time of 2’08.990. The second session took place in dry conditions, allowing the young Italian to set a much faster time, a 1’54.437, which put him seventh at the end of day one.
“A tough day. The bike wasn’t bad in the wet this morning, and we were seventh. In the second session, I didn’t have the right feeling, but we pressed on, trying to change something to make an improvement. We improved a little, but not enough to be in the top ten, which is disappointing. In the last session, I didn’t go straight on a fresh tyre and then unfortunately it came on to rain, so we’re in Superpole1 tomorrow. I hope we can do more tomorrow morning, as I want to improve my feeling on the bike.”
“I’m really very pleased, for two reasons: firstly, we’ve improved with regard to the test we carried out here in the past and then there’s the fact that we’ve been competitive in both the wet and dry today, third in the wet and seventh in this afternoon’s dry conditions. We’re improving, a very positive sign. I couldn’t wait to start the season and now that we’re finally here I’m really pumped up and hope to be able to improve further tomorrow.”
WorldSSP: Krummenacher jumps ahead of Mahias in Aragon FP2
Yamaha riders dominate combined sessions with Krummenacher and Mahias resuming their Thai battle
Krummenacher shot to the top of the timing screens
At Round Three of the FIM Supersport World Championship, the fantastic battle from Thailand resumed in Free Practice Two. After just pushing ahead of Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) on the last bend at the Chang International Circuit, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) again took first place at the last moment at MotorLand Aragon, recording a flying last lap to head the combined sessions.
Mahias had just taken first place on his final lap, but eventually had to make do with second, just two hundredths of a second behind the Swiss challenger to his WorldSSP crown. The Frenchman’s teammate Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) was also just beaten to his position, finishing fourth with Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) also two hundredths of a second ahead. With these results, the top four in the championship standings also took the first four places in the free practices.
Behind them and completing Yamaha’s top quintet was Jules Cluzel (NRT), who led a good part of the second session and was first at the end of FP1. He was followed by Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in sixth and seventh.
Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini), Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) and Michael Canducci (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) grabbed the final top-10 best times and qualify automatically for the Superpole 2, just ahead of Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer), the first-placed rider of those taking part in the FIM European Supersport Cup.
As with WorldSBK before it, all the WorldSSP challengers improved greatly on their FP1 times, as blue skies took hold of the MotorLand Aragon circuit in the early afternoon. Times in FP1 varied by up to 20 seconds, with the track still drying out after a rainy night and many riders cautious in their approach.
#AragonWorldSBK WorldSSP at MotorLand Aragon: Friday
1. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Even Bros WorldSSP Team) 1:54:750
2. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) +0.021
3. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) +0.050
Tuuli confident for Superpole
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Niki Tuuli ended day one of Round Three of the World Supersport Championship at Motorland Aragon twelfth on the combined timesheets narrowly missing out on Superpole 2 by less than a tenth of a second. Tuuli had been safely inside the top ten until the very last lap of Free Practice Two when he dropped out of automatic entry.
Tuuli said: “The first session was quite good I improved my riding and we improved my bike today. It’s looking much better, it feels like my riding is more relaxed. I’m looking forward to tomorrow I’m really sure we can do it riding better lap times like I did today because on my fast lap I made a couple of mistakes and if we can improve the bike more then we can do a really good job tomorrow.”
Fellow CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Andrew Irwin faced a steep learning curve on the opening day of free practice. Irwin’s first outing at the 5.077km Spanish track ended with him in 28th position on the combined timesheets as he worked to learn the circuit.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “Niki had a good FP1 and only just missed out on SP2 but the fact remains we are only 12th after FP2. For sure we have the potential to challenge inside the top 6 but we need to make that one lap. We improved the bike and the rear grip today and Niki felt confident to go faster. He has a very good chance tomorrow, it’s not easy but we need to do our best to get into Superpole 2 to challenge for the best grid position.”
“Andrew has never been here before and he still has some problem with his hand. His crew chief Kor is a very experienced guy and can help him improve tomorrow but he needs to make a big step in FP3. I’m sure we can work through it with him to challenge for the best possible grid position and another top twenty finish in the race.”
New Season New Bike For Kawasaki’s WorldSSP300 Teams
After coming close to winning the WorldSSP300 championship last year with the Ninja 300, Kawasaki’s new Ninja 400 is a potent weapon of choice for many ambitious riders inside the newest full status world championship class there is.
Instigated as a full FIM World Championship in its debut year in 2017 the easily accessible WorldSSP300 series is aimed at young riders trying to not only win races and a title on the global stage, but to gain exposure and continue their progression up the ladder toward the bigger categories.
For Kawasaki the class offers another opportunity for their potential customers to buy the bike that they can see racing at world championship level, and in 2018 that bike is the cutting edge Ninja 400.
Some years ago Kawasaki began the path that finally led to the creation of the WorldSSP300 with the single make Ninja 250 Cup inside the WorldSBK Paddock, before achieving instant and consistent success in the WorldSSP300 championship last year.
Scott Deroue won two races and competed for the championship win itself last season, finishing third overall. The Ninja 300 also helped make some history for another rider in 2017. At the Portuguese round, Ana Carrasco became the first female winner of an FIM World Championship race held in direct competition with male riders.
With all this proven 2017 success using the Ninja 300 model, and with the new Ninja 400 established in the global marketplace, Kawasaki has increased its support inside the WorldSSP class this year. The DS Junior Team with Ana Carrasco, the Motoport Kawasaki squad with Dutch riders Scott Deroue and Robert Schotman, and the Kawasaki ParkinGO team of Mika Perez and Filippo Rovelli all benefit from some level of Kawasaki assistance. Other top Ninja 400 teams to keep an eye on in 2018 are the ETG Racing and Nutec-Benjan squads.
The new Ninja has had an additional 10kg added to its minimum weight in race trim compared to last year’s Ninja 300, but the competitive spirit of Kawasaki and its riders are expected to shine through as the championship begins the first of its eight rounds. The 400 is latest Ninja roadbike to achieve track success, as it recently filled nine of the top ten places in the first round of the British Supersport 300 Championship.