Press releases from the teams and organizers after Sunday's race at Magny-Cours in France:
#FRAWorldSBK - Day 3:
Rea wins to clinch a historic fifth consecutive WorldSBK title at Magny-Cours!
A five-star performance as Rea holds off van der Mark to become the first five-time WorldSBK champion!
The Pirelli French Round will go down in the history books of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. It began with Turkey’s first ever winner in Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) and finished with Jonathan Rea winning Race 2 to become the championship’s first ever five-time champion following early misfortune for nearest rival Alvaro Bautista (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati).
Starting from pole position for the first time in WorldSBK, Toprak Razgatlioglu couldn’t make the same lightning start which saw him leap up the order in the two previous races. Rea edged up the inside into Turn 1 to grab the lead but he wouldn’t stay ahead for long, as Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) used the slipstream to hit the front at the Adelaide hairpin.
The moment which ultimately proved decisive in the 2019 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship came on Lap 2 as Razgatlioglu lost the rear of his Kawasaki on the exit of Turn 13. As the Turkish rider fought to control the slide, Alvaro Bautista was powerless to avoid the Race 1 winner and both riders were eliminated on the spot. With the words ‘BAUTISTA OUT’ displayed on his pit-board next time around, Rea now knew that a race victory would see him make history.
Michael van der Mark was keen to ensure that Rea didn’t have an unchallenged run to a fifth WorldSBK crown, keeping the Ulsterman at bay until the Imola chicane on Lap 6. The Dutchman didn’t trail for long with the Yamaha proving a formidable motorcycle down the back straight towards Turn 5, an advantage van der Mark utilised to power past on Lap 8.
As the race ticked over half distance, Rea mounted another attack on the leader with van der Mark going defensive into Adelaide. The championship leader was wise to this tactic though and drew alongside into the following Nurburgring chicane, making the move stick on Lap 13. With van der Mark no longer close enough to make use of the slipstream next time around, Rea had the margin he needed to ease clear.
Despite a valiant effort from van der Mark, the advantage grew to over one-second, allowing Rea to close out the final laps and claim his 12th victory of 2019. This one was the sweetest of all though as he completed one of the great WorldSBK comebacks. From 61 points behind, Rea now holds an unassailable 129-point advantage and a place in the history books as the first ever five-time WorldSBK champion.
Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team) completed the team’s first double-podium of the season with a close third, consolidating third in the championship standings, while Chaz Davies (ARUBA.IT Racing – Ducati), who was heavily delayed in the early collision between his team-mate Alvaro Bautista and Toprak Razgatlioglu, recovered to finish fourth, overtaking home favourite Loris Baz (Ten Kate Racing - Yamaha) on Lap 14. Despite a late challenge from the Frenchman, he was forced to settle for fifth, completing a positive weekend at his home round as the Top Independent Rider in Race 2.
Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) closed out the final European round of his WorldSBK career with a strong charge from 15th on the grid to sixth, winning a close three-way fight on the last lap. The Italian finished just a tenth of a second clear of Leon Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) with Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) right behind the pair in eighth.
Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda Team) capped off an impressive comeback to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship with ninth place, finishing a second clear of Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing). Elsewhere, there were points for French wildcard Sylvain Barrier (Brixx Performance) in 13th but disappointment for Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK) who was forced to retire midway through the race while running in the top ten.
P1 - Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK)
"I can quite believe it. It has been an incredible year so far, and a year I have never given up, I've kept believing in myself, believing in my bike, believing in my crew and believing in my effort. After the fourth race, it was so tough to keep turning up when you know that he is going to be so difficult to win, but in the mid-season, we turn things around. I don't have so many words right now, because I did not expect this today. I had no idea what was going to happen. If I would win today, what was the point situation, but I knew when I got the sign that Bautista was out that I could mathematically have the chance. And I did it! Thanks to all my team, all my family and all the people who have been working with me, Kawasaki, the sponsors, all the people that made this possible. It's a huge team effort, and I couldn't be here without them"
P2 - Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
"I tried everything today! We improved the bike a bit in some area but toward the end, we lost quite a lot from Johnny but I really enjoyed this race and we had a nice battle! Of course, I saw that Alvaro was out so I knew Rea wasn't going to do any crazy thing. I tried to stay with him, I passed him a few times but in the end he was a bit stronger. I want to thank my team because we got another podium".
P3 - Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team)
"I have got a little bit of good luck at the start of the race with the accident that happened in front of me. But after that, I felt strong on the bike and I was able to ride in 1'37 and catch Jonathan and Michael. Unfortunately, I pushed a lot in the middle and when I got there my front tyre was worn out a lot, so I couldn't fight with van der Mark in the end but I am pleased with the podium and it set us out nicely for the final two fly-aways of the year".
Rea Five Times Champion After Race Two Win
Jonathan Rea (KRT) took an all-time record fifth WorldSBK Riders’ Championship win today after finishing second in the Tissot-Superpole race and then winning Race Two. Leon Haslam (KRT) was ninth in the short race and then seventh in Race Two. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) added the ‘sprint’ race win to his Saturday Race One victory, before a no score in Race Two.
After overcoming a tough early season Jonathan Rea became the World Championship for a record fifth time in the best way possible - with a race win. No other rider has won five titles in this category, never mind five in succession.
The eventual timing of Jonathan’s latest title success was somewhat unexpected, despite his strong podiums showings in the first two Magny Cours races. Rea had a genuine opportunity to take the crown again after his only title rival Alvaro Bautista collided with Razgatlioglu and had to retire. Jonathan’s race two victory was his 12th win of the season.
Rea had aimed to win all the French WorldSBK races before the final contest of the weekend and he finally took his 83rd career victory by 0.862 seconds from Michael van der Mark. Jonathan’s latest title win came with two rounds to spare.
Haslam had a difficult Sunday after his Race One crash on Saturday but fought as hard as he could, against an aggravated shoulder injury and issues under braking, to record ninth and seventh place finishes today.
Rea’s championship points total is now 544, while Haslam is sixth overall after Razgatlioglu’s first two race wins in WorldSBK.
The next round is a flyaway event, and will be held at the El Villicum circuit in Argentina, between the 11th and 13th of October.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “I am just super-happy. It has been the biggest challenge to date and we have just chipped away. The beginning of the season was really tough, to be beaten the way we were. But to mentally accept the challenge and keep working as a team - also away from the track – we kept strong. I have worked and kept working. We all go to each weekend looking for the opportunity and we have had lots of opportunities this year, and won a lot of races. It is beyond my wildest dreams to win the title here because after four rounds I would have bitten your hand off if you told me I was going to be champion. With yesterday’s race being quite chaotic I was nervous going into today because I did not understand the points situation. The target all weekend was to try and – realistically – win it in Argentina, so we could go to Qatar with less pressure. But we got another opportunity today and I felt a little bit better with the bike compared to yesterday. With the temperature going up the pace was not so fast I was able to manage the bike, and I could see my opportunity with Michael. He was struggling in some areas where we were strong. And we were weaker in some areas where he was strong. So I was putting that all together, learning that for a few laps and then putting my head down and getting the job done. Massive thanks to Kawasaki, the team, my sponsors, my family, all my friends and everybody in my corner. I am the guy taking the plaudits but it is such a big team effort and I am fortunate to be in this position.”
Leon Haslam, stated: “It was a tough day. I knew it was going to be tough, especially with my main issue this year being stopping. There are five or six places on track where you have to make a maximum stop. I knew Toprak’s strength was there, so for me that was kind of predictable with the way he works the bike. For my part, from yesterday to the third race today I found a lot more consistent and better pace but it just was not enough. I had a battle with Tom Sykes and managed to beat him in the last race but we were missing two or three tenths of a second at least.”
Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) won the sprint race from Jonathan today but crashed out of Race Two after an early rear end slide and then a collision with the following Alvaro Bautista. Toprak’s two race wins in France take him to fifth in the championship, on 260 points, and contributed to the fact that a Kawasaki rider won every major race at Magny Cours.
Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was 15th and then a fine tenth despite starting each Sunday race from a lowly grid position. Jordi is now 11th overall. Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) will face a home round next time out in Argentina, but on Sunday in France he scored 14th and 11th place finishes. He is ranked 15th overall.
Pata Yamaha Sign Off the European Season with a Double Podium in Magny-Cours
The Pata Yamaha team signed off their Magny-Cours weekend in style with a double podium in WorldSBK Race 2 this afternoon. Michael van der Mark finished second, having disputed the lead with eventual winner Jonathan Rea for the entire race, while Alex Lowes recovered strongly from time lost avoiding a second lap crash to finish third. This stellar team performance followed another podium appearance by van der Mark, who finished third in the Superpole sprint race this morning. The two Pata Yamaha riders were joined in Parc Ferme by Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Loris Baz, who finished as top independent rider in fifth position.
Van der Mark, who was left frustrated after crashing out of the lead in WorldSBK Race 1 yesterday, bounced back strongly in this morning's Superpole sprint race, which he led in the opening stages, but finished in third place after a close battle with his fellow podium finishers, Toprak Razgatlioglu and Rea.
The 26-year-old Dutchman rider got an equally good start from the front row of the grid in Race 2 and, together with Rea, pulled away from the rest of the field when Razgatlioglu crashed out of third place and the pursuing pack lost time taking evasive action. It looked like it was going to be a race long, two-way battle for the win, as van der Mark and Rea took turns to lead but Lowes, who'd been caught behind the second lap crash, was on a lone charge and closing fast.
The 29-year-old Briton eventually caught the leading duo at half race distance, but having used his tyres to close the gap, wasn't able to then mount a challenge for the win. The Kawasaki rider made his move with nine laps remaining, passing the Yamaha for the lead and then pushing to the limit to gain an advantage of half a second. Van der Mark, who was also on the limit, could only maintain and not close the gap and he took the chequered flag in second place, with teammate Lowes following him across the line in third to conclude a successful day for the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK team.
Van der Mark's two podium finishes today promoted him back to fourth place in the championship standings and to within five points of his teammate Lowes in third, which was how the two Pata Yamaha riders started the Magny-Cours weekend.
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Marco Melandri, declared himself satisfied with his performance in this afternoon's WorldSBK Race 2, in which he fought his way through from 12th position on the grid to eventually get the better of an intense battle with Leon Haslam and podium finisher in yesterday's Race 1, Tom Sykes, to finish sixth.
Sandro Cortese endured a disappointing end to what had been a difficult debut weekend at Magny-Cours aboard the GRT Yamaha YZF-R1. The reigning Supersport World Champion was 11th in the Superpole sprint race this morning, but confident of a much stronger performance in WorldSBK Race 2 this afternoon. Unfortunately, Cortese encountered a technical problem in the opening stages of the race, which eventually forced his retirement.
Ten Kate Yamaha's Loris Baz continues to improve as he gains familiarity with the Ten Kate Yamaha YZF-R1 that he raced for the first time in Jerez in June. The Frenchman again reduced the gap to the winner in all three races this weekend, with his best result coming in WorldSBK Race 2, where he finished as the top independent rider in fifth position.
The Magny-Cours weekend brings to a close the European season and the Yamaha WorldSBK teams will now head overseas for the final two races of 2019 in Argentina and Qatar.
Michael van der Mark
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P3 and P2 - Championship P4 - 274 Points
"I was happy to be back on the podium this morning after the costly mistake yesterday, but I was struggling a little bit with the bike over the 10 laps. We made some changes for the second race, which brought some improvements. I got another quick start and my pace was good, as was the battle with Johnny, where we were both pretty much on the limit. I was pushing so hard to stay in front of him but, at the end, he was just a little bit stronger. I'm really happy with the double podium today, especially after yesterday, and it was great to be up there on the podium with Alex again this afternoon. A big thanks to the team who did a great job in a weekend made difficult by the weather."
Pata Yamaha WorldSBK - P6 and P3 - Championship P3 - 279 Points
"I didn't get the best of starts this afternoon, and then I was behind the crash involving Toprak and Alvaro, which left me with a big gap to close to Michael and Johnny. I think I was a couple of seconds behind, but my pace was really good, and I'd managed to catch the pair of them by midrace distance. To get to them I'd worked the front tyre really hard and, with around five laps to go, I was struggling a bit and wasn't able to join the fight. The lack of dry track time this weekend means I've not really found the right set up and I've struggled a little, so it's good to be leaving with three solid results and sharing the podium with Michael today was good for us, good for the team and a great way to end the weekend here in France."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P12 and P6 - Championship P9 - 171 Points
"Sixth in Race 2 today wasn't such a bad way to end what has been a difficult weekend. Starting from the fifth row after the Superpole race meant it wasn't an easy race and I lost a lot of time at the beginning when Toprak and Alvaro crashed, which allowed Leon Camier to pass me again. But in the end the rhythm wasn't too bad, so I can be happy, especially as I won my little battle with Leon Haslam and Tom Sykes. Now we head to Argentina, where I hope we can improve further."
GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P11 and DNF - Championship P10 - 122 Points
"I felt really strong in Race 2 this afternoon, and I would have been able to fight with the likes of Leon Haslam, Tom Sykes and Marco, which is why it's such a shame I had a problem with the bike. I could feel there was something not quite right with the gear shift from the opening laps but the problem only got worse, to the point where I couldn't shift gear anymore. Obviously, I'm disappointed, it's a day to forget, but now I'm looking forward to Argentina and to finishing the season with some good results."
Ten Kate Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P7 and P5 - Championship P12 - 114 Points
"Every race we close the gap to the race winner, and the same was true this afternoon. I'm much happier than I was yesterday, because yesterday I was not so happy with the bike and how I rode the last laps, but today was much better. This morning was also strong, but we had a technical issue after five laps and I just had to ride the bike to the end, although I still managed to beat Leon and Tom. This afternoon I lost again time at the beginning with Michael Rinaldi and Leon, but once past them I was as quick as the top guys over the remaining 15 or so laps. I'm happy; we didn't quite make the podium, but we need to remember where we've come from and that we're now up there and fighting with the factory bikes. We're doing our job and I'm sure we'll be up there challenging for the podium really soon."
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Manager
"For Yamaha today has been a successful end to what has been a weekend made particularly difficult by the weather. Race 2 today saw the two Pata Yamaha riders on the podium together, with Loris Baz finishing as the top independent rider and Marco Melandri making it four Yamahas in the top six. That is a very positive result and one that shows that our ongoing development program continues to be effective. It's a shame that Sandro had a technical problem in this afternoon's race, as he also had the potential to fight for a top six finish today. So, a positive end to the final European race weekend of the 2019 season and for that I'd like to thank the riders, the teams and our Yamaha technical staff, all of whom have had to overcome significant challenges due to the weather and the track conditions, both of which proved unpredictable this weekend."
World Superbike at Magny-Cours: Chaz Davies twice finishes fourth for the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team, while Álvaro Bautista picks up a fifth place and a DNF in race 2
Unfortunately, the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team riders, Álvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies, were unable to obtain the results they had hoped for in the French Round of the Superbike World Championship at the Magny-Cours circuit, which saw Jonathan Rea crowned WSBK champion for the fifth time in a row.
After the rain of the first two days, Davies took home two fourth places in both of today’s races which were held on a dry track. Following a good run in the Superpole Race, in race 2 the Welsh rider was lapping at the same pace as the leaders when he was involved in the incident between Razgatlioglu and Bautista. This unfortunate episode meant that Chaz lost precious seconds which he was never able to make up again.
Álvaro Bautista instead crossed the line with a good fifth place in the Superpole Race but in race 2 was forced to retire because of the impact with the bike of Toprak who crashed at Turn 13.
In the Riders’ standings Álvaro Bautista lies in second place, 129 points behind the winner of the title Rea, while Chaz Davies remains in seventh place with 223 points.
Ducati still holds on to second place in the Constructors’ standings, and the Aruba.it Racing - Ducati team is classified second in the Teams’ standings.
World SBK now heads off to South America for the penultimate event on the calendar, where from 11 to 13 October the Argentinean Round will be held at the El Villicum circuit near the city of San Juan.
Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing Ducati #7) – 4th / 4th “In both races today I finished in fourth place, which in itself is not a bad result, but I feel I could have got a lot more. In race 2 I almost got caught up in the incident between Toprak and Álvaro so took avoiding action by going off the track. Unfortunately, I came off the grass at four seconds back and finished the race with the same gap that I was unable to make up. It was so frustrating not to get the chance to fight for the win, because the pace was there.”
Álvaro Bautista (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati #19) – 5th / DNF
“Fortunately physically I’m OK after the crash, I’m just a bit disappointed because I think in race 2 I was able to fight for the win. For sure the weekend was tough, it was a new track that I’d never seen before and there was very little time to ride in dry conditions. Yesterday in the first race I managed to improve the feeling with the track and made up a lot of positions, while today in race 2 I made a good start and felt really good with the bike up at the front. Unfortunately, I was involved in Razgatlioglu’s crash at Turn 13 and his mistake caused my retirement. It’s a pity to finish in this way but it’s all part of racing. Congratulations to Jonathan Rea because he had a great season. During the championship Jonathan has always been able to get the best out of every situation, and for sure we didn’t lose the title because of this race.”
Difficult Sunday for the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team at Magny-Cours.
Two eighth places for Tom Sykes on the BMW S 1000 RR.
Markus Reiterberger finishes 17th and 15th.
Final spurt of the season in Argentina and Qatar.
Magny-Cours. Following the podium finish for Tom Sykes (GBR) on Saturday, the BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team endured a difficult Sunday at Magny-Cours (FRA). Sykes finished eighth on his BMW S 1000 RR in both the Superpole Race and the second main race. Team-mate Markus Reiterberger (GER) came home 17th and 15th. Magny-Cours was the venue for round eleven of this season’s FIM Superbike World Championship (WorldSBK).
Sykes started the morning’s Superpole race from sixth place. As in the opening race on Saturday, he soon worked his way into fourth place. This time, however, he was unable to mix it with the front-runners and eventually had to settle for eighth place. Consequently, Sykes started the second main race on Saturday afternoon from eighth place. He initially climbed to sixth place, but then dropped back through the field over the course of the race, eventually crossing the finish line eighth after 21 laps of racing. Reiterberger started the Superpole race and race two from 19th place. He was 17th in the morning, before finishing 15th to score one point in the afternoon race.
The BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team now travels to San Juan in Argentina, where the penultimate round of the season will take place in two weeks’ time (11th to 13th October). The finale will be held in Qatar at the end of October.
Quotes after race two at Magny-Cours.
Marc Bongers, BMW Motorrad Motorsport Director: “Sunday was disappointing for us. The set-up changes we tried out in the warm-up did not have the desired effect for Tom. We were unable to back up the performance we showed on Saturday. The track temperatures were significantly higher, even in the earlier Superpole race. After a strong start, we fell back through the field. We also started strongly in race two, but then lost roughly a second per lap to our rivals, which meant we had no chance of challenging for a spot on the podium. We are lacking mechanical grip when accelerating in the lean position. This becomes all the more important as soon as the track temperature starts to rise. We must now see whether we can react in time for the next races, in order to learn as much as possible and to end the season strongly.”
Shaun Muir, Team Principal BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team: “The Superpole race was quite difficult for all of us. Tom struggled a bit on the faster parts of the circuit. He settled into a position we had to be happy with although it was a bit disappointing after yesterday. Markus really struggled and overall it has been a difficult event for him. In the main race, Tom got a really good start and was with the front guys but sadly he could not find the confidence and performance he had yesterday. He was a second per lap slower and finished way off the top-3 or top-4. The whole team needs to have a look at the data and the information and try to understand why this happened. After such a great Saturday it was disappointing to take a step backwards and we need to try to rectify this for Argentina.”
Tom Sykes: “I am obviously a bit disappointed with today but we were struggling in certain areas with the bike and I really tried to ride around some of the issues. But we certainly made some progress in terms of a couple of things and feel quite confident in some areas and just need to work again now on another part of the chassis to enable us to be stronger over the distance. So it was a slightly disappointing day given the result on paper but also a day where we got a lot of information so hopefully we can build on this and move forward. There are a couple of difficult rounds coming up for us but we keep our head down, keep trying to progress and just keep the information coming before we go into the winter break.”
Markus Reiterberger: “The weekend was really tough. I think that our results do not show our potential and are for sure not where we want to be – neither me nor the team. We need to find a solution to improve my feeling for the bike so I can ride faster. I want to reach the top ten – that is my goal for the final two rounds of the season. I want to thank the entire team for their hard work and sorry for the bad results.”
Another top ten for Leon Camier at Magny Cours; Ryuichi Kiyonari inside the points zone
Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari concluded their race weekend at Magny Cours with a ninth and fourteenth place finish respectively in Race 2. The ten-lap Superpole sprint race proved more challenging, with Leon crossing the line sixteenth and Ryuichi twentieth.
Both riders made changes to their bikes’ setup between the two races and both were able to improve their feeling, pace and speed as a result of these modifications.
The Pirelli French round, which saw Jonathan Rea celebrate his fifth WorldSBK championship title, was the final European event of the season, the championship now moving on to Argentina, in two weeks’ time, before the season finale plays out in Qatar at the end of October.
Leon Camier 2
Superpole Race: 16th - Race 2: 9th
“The Superpole race was not so good, as I struggled a bit with my feeling on the bike. This track is a physical one, at least on the arms, and coming back after four months away definitely doesn’t make it any easier. We made a few little changes to the bike and I felt more comfortable in Race 2. I made quite a good start and was in a good group and I rode as hard as I could for as long as I could, managing to hold off Torres and a few other riders. So, all in all I think the race went OK for us. We identified various areas where we think we can improve, and we’ll try and do that in the remaining races.”
Ryuichi Kiyonari 23
Superpole Race: 20th - Race 2: 14th
“This morning’s race was still difficult but my feeling with the bike was nevertheless better than yesterday. So, after the Superpole race we made some small adjustment to the suspension settings and changed a lot of other small things across all areas. I’m aware that that should have been our starting point on Friday morning rather than our finishing point on Sunday, but we saw improvement in the end, and I enjoyed Race 2 much more than the rest of the weekend.”
4 STANDING POINTS TAKEN IN MAGNY-COURS SUNDAY!
A Sunday in defense for The Go Eleven Team and Eugene Laverty. The step forward that was expected from yesterday's changes, necessary to stay in line with the best riders after a rather positive Saturday, wasn't done and Eugene took home a twelfth place in Race 2.
In the Warm Up, raced with very cold temperatures (13.1 degrees in the air), the Irish rider tried a new position on the seat. He found a good feeling by changing the balance of the bike despite the laptime. All together, technicians and Eugene, decided to continue working on this line, hoping in a good Superpole Race.
Warm Up: P 16 1.39.917 + 2.304
The Superpole Race starts under a beautiful sun that warms the asphalt of Magny-Cours. Eugene starts from the eighth position, tries to defend himself from the attacks of the big group behind him, but in the first laps he finds it hard to find the right feeling with the Panigale and loses some tenths, concluding on P 13.
In race two he will then start from the eleventh grid box.
P 13 E. Laverty + 17.810
Race 2 seems to start well, Laverty recovers two positions, then in turn 11, due to an error due to an anomaly in the rear brake, four riders overtake him.
The Northern Irish ace strenuously tries to remain attached to the group headed by Leon Camier, valid for the ninth position, but with the technical problem encountered the bike becomes difficult to stop and turn. The Team concludes, despite this, as the second Ducati at the end, behind only Chaz Davies, but Eugene was forced to "settle" for the championship points, without being able to express all the potential. Tough Sunday, it is impossible to hide that after yesterday's race today's expectations were higher.
Now we need to concentrate to finish this season in the best way on two layouts that will help Ducati unleash horsepower: El Villicum and Qatar, WorldSBK is coming!
P 12 E. Laverty + 32.283
Congratulations from all the Go Eleven Team go to the five-time World Champion Jonathan Rea; when everyone thought the world champion was lost, he remained solid and focused. With today's wins he became the rider with the most WorldSBK Championship titles. It is an honor and a privilege to share the track with you!
Denis Sacchetti (Team Manager):
"The weather here in France is always a little crazy! Friday was a very good start, because we were competitive in all conditions, wet, and dry. Eugene did a great Superpole on Saturday, and missed the second row for very little. Race 1, then, was the real first round of "practice" on a completely dry track and no one had been able to work on the set up of the bikes before, so no one was in a good one. See how the riders tried to ride over the problems, adapting to the situation was fantastic! Eugene found the right rhythm in the final laps, and in the last ten ones he was among the fastest on the track. With a view to Sunday's races, this final comeback gave us a good charge and we decided to make an important change to make the step forward and finally get back to important positions. Surely we need more time to be able to work on this line, that we are sure is the right one. In race 2, the problem encountered with the rear brake penalized us.
We go to Argentina convinced that we can do well and reach the goal. "
Eugene Laverty (Rider):
"It was a very disappointing Sunday with two results outside of the top 10. In the Superpole race I posted my fastest lap of the weekend but it still wasn’t enough. In the final race the setting felt a small step better but unfortunately the rear brake system fell off at turn 11 on lap one. From there on I found it difficult to stop and turn the bike in the fluid sections of the track. It was a day to forget."
A disappointing day for Delbianco at Magny-Cours
Magny Cours (France), Sunday 29 September 2019
The eleventh round of the Superbike world championship has come to an end at the French circuit of Nevers Magny Cours and it proved to be a tough day for the Althea MIE Racing team and rider Alessandro Delbianco.
In dry conditions, the ten-lap Tissot Superpole race got underway at 11am. Twelfth on the grid thanks to the result he achieved in yesterday’s wet Superpole, Delbianco was unfortunately unable to exploit that starting position today. Losing significant ground on lap one due to what was perhaps an incorrect tyre choice, he was unable to recover, holding his position and crossing the line in nineteenth place.
The Italian rider began the afternoon’s second Superbike race from the seventh row of the grid. Struggling to find a good rhythm that would allow him to make up ground to the riders immediately ahead of him, the Italian closed the race in sixteenth position.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t the weekend I was hoping for. We started well on Friday, in the wet, but then struggled more in the races, which took place in dry conditions. I think we took another step forward in terms of pace though, and I will do my best to build on that during the final races of the season."
The Five-Star Champion:
Jonathan Rea clinches 2019 WorldSBK title
Northern Irish rider seals the deal at Magny-Cours for championship number five
After starring in one of the most remarkable comebacks in motorcycling racing history, Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) can finally lay claim to being the first-ever five-time MOTUL FIM Superbike World Champion, securing the 2019 crown in sensational fashion at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours.
The rider from Ballymena, Northern Ireland has overcome perhaps his most formidable foe to date on course to take his fifth crown. Álvaro Bautista’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) blazing introduction to the series left many onlookers startled and ready to hail the start of a new, #19-led era. But Rea faced the challenge like a true champion by biding his time, picking up podium finishes and waiting for the moment to pounce. When he did it was with razor-sharp precision, turning around a 61-point deficit in the blink of an eye and wrapping up his fifth title with two rounds to spare.
With this title win, Rea becomes the undisputed king of the WorldSBK history books, holding a record number of championship wins, race wins and career points, amongst other accolades, picked up in his 11-season-long WorldSBK career.
As has been the case for several other greats of two-wheel racing, Rea’s first steps in the paddock were made in WorldSSP. Taking the runner-up spot in his rookie season, he was quick to make the step up to World Superbike one season later alongside Ten Kate Honda, marking the start of a six-year-long, character-building spell onboard the Fireblade.
His performances in each one of those seasons propelled him to the factory Kawasaki bike ahead of the 2015 season. The rest, as they say, is history. No matter the circumstances, the rivals, the regulations, Rea has always managed to finish the calendar year on top.
Yet one could forgive him for rating this championship win above the others, considering how the year began. Pre-season testing had Rea as the odds-on favourite for the title, but all that changed once Phillip Island rolled around: Bautista romped through to an incredible three race wins, leaving Rea and new teammate Leon Haslam to scrap for the remaining podium positions. Buriram and Aragon confirmed that this was not a one-off, and despite Rea’s best efforts, he was again forced to be content with the second position.
Many of his fans set their faith on Round 4 at Assen – Rea’s favourite playground since joining WorldSBK. Yet after a stroke of misfortune in qualifying (and the Saturday snowstorm saga), he was faced with an uphill battle from eighth on the grid. Not only were the race wins just out of reach, but he was also beaten to the line in Race 2 by home hero Michael van der Mark.
Four rounds and 53 points down, a short-lived revival began at Imola with his first two wins of 2019, yet once again luck abandoned Rea with the cancellation of Race 2, denying him a possible hat-trick of wins.
Jerez followed four weeks later, and with it came perhaps the most frustrating moment of the 32-year-old’s year, if not his Kawasaki career. Riding in fourth in Race 1, he misjudged a move over Alex Lowes in the final lap, knocking the Yamaha rider into the gravel. A clearly distraught Rea has knocked off the Race 1 podium and forced to start the Tissot Superpole Race from the back of the grid – any title challenge was on its last legs.
And then Bautista crashed in Race 2. Rea finished in second place again, but little did that matter. There was hope; the comeback was on.
With Misano came the rain and with the rain came a water masterclass by Rea to reduce the gap with his Ducati rival by a further nine points. A bizarre tumble in the Superpole Race handed the momentum back to Bautista, but it ended abruptly as the Spaniard crashed out of Race 2 in identical circumstances to Jerez. This time, Rea managed to beat Toprak Razgatlioglu to the line to take his fifth win of the year.
Donington Park was next on the calendar and as the rain returned to the fore, so did Rea to the championship lead: Bautista high-sided out, the Kawasaki rider won unopposed, and suddenly the #1 was back on top. On Sunday, he reinforced that statement with the first hat-trick of his WorldSBK career.
The dream run continued at Laguna Seca while Bautista endured his own personal nightmare. Two wins and a runner-up spot for Rea to the Spaniard’s three DNFs meant a 57-point swing in 24 hours and one half of the championship trophy in the Northern Irishman’s hands. From 61 down to 81 up in just ten races, this was now his title to lose.
The return from the summer break saw Bautista return to winning ways at Portimao, but not before Rea had won two races of his own, leaving the gap at 91 points with three rounds remaining.
Needing a 125-point lead out of Magny-Cours to mathematically confirm his championship win, it may have seemed like a tall order to finish the fight off in Europe – but then again, so did winning the championship at all a few months earlier. France and WorldSBK title win go hand in hand, and once again, against all odds, 2019 was no exception: Rea was crowned for the third year in succession at Magny-Cours, signing off on a five-star season with two rounds to spare.
Is anyone capable of unseating the Northern Irish legend? Congratulate Jonathan Rea via social media with the hashtag #Rea5Stars.
Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK):
"I can quite believe it. It has been an incredible year so far, and a year I have never given up, I've kept believing in myself, believing in my bike, believing in my crew and believing in my effort. After the fourth race, it was so tough to keep turning up when you know that he is going to be so difficult to win, but in the mid-season, we turn things around. I don't have so many words right now, because I did not expect this today. I had no idea what was going to happen. If I would win today, what was the point situation, but I knew when I got the sign that Bautista was out that I could mathematically have the chance. And I did it! Thanks to all my team, all my family and all the people who have been working with me, Kawasaki, the sponsors, all the people that made this possible. It's a huge team effort, and I couldn't be here without them".
WorldSSP: Mahias takes thrilling home win as title challengers falter
Home crowd erupts as the Frenchman fends off Vinales with Krummenacher and Caricasulo crashing out
Unpredictability reigns in a dramatic WorldSSP race at the Pirelli French Round as championship favourites Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) both crashed out to leave the championship finely poised. This left the door open for Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) to claim his first win of the season after a thrilling last lap scrap with Isaac Vinales (Kallio Racing).
As the race got underway, Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) immediately grabbed the lead from first-time polesitter Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) but there was drama behind with three riders colliding at Turn 1. Maximilien Bau (GMT94 YAMAHA), Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Federico Fuligni (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) were the riders involved with the red flags immediately brought out. All three riders were conscious although they will be transported to Nevers hospital for further assessments.
The quick restart procedure was brought into effect and Cluzel made no mistake once again, edging ahead of Smith. The shortened 12-lap race exploded into life moments later as Randy Krummenacher highsided on the exit of the 180 corner. The Swiss rider was lucky to be avoided by Lucas Mahias, who was forced to take avoiding action, but his exit presented team-mate and title rival Federico Caricasulo with a golden opportunity.
The Italian responded by grabbing the lead on the second lap, slipstreaming past Cluzel and Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) on the way into the Adelaide hairpin on Lap 2. The astonishing WorldSSP title battle took another unbelievable twist on Lap 4 though as Caricasulo, enjoying a two-second lead lost the front end of his Yamaha at Turn 13. He did remount and appeared on course to salvage some points before a second crash at Estoril ended his afternoon.
The championship fight now seemed to swinging in Jules Cluzel’s direction but the Frenchman couldn’t keep a busy pack of riders at bay. Isaac Vinales hit the front for the first time shortly after half distance with Lucas Mahias following through into second, setting the stage for a battle between the two that would keep us guessing all the way until the finish. Cluzel was also powerless to prevent Ayrton Badovini and a fast-finishing Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) moving through, leaving him to dispute fifth place with Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).
The corner speed of the Kawasaki in the hands of Lucas Mahias was proving a formidable prospect, with the 2017 champion cutting underneath Vinales at Estoril on Lap 8. Although the Spaniard would out-drag his opponent to the Adelaide hairpin, Mahias regained the advantage after a superior run through Imola put him in position to outbrake the Yamaha into Turn 13.
The race reached a thrilling conclusion with Vinales regaining the lead on the penultimate lap, but cheered on by the enthusiastic French crowd, Mahias shadowed the Spaniard through the final lap before diving up the inside into Turn 13. Vinales had one last opportunity on the approach to the tight right-hander of Turn 15 but Mahias took the perfect defensive line, covering the inside and holding on for Kawasaki’s first WorldSSP victory since Kenan Sofuoglu at Portimao in 2017, ending Yamaha’s 24-race winning streak in the class.
The battle for third was also settled at Turn 15 on the last lap with Ayrton Badovini outbraking Raffaele De Rosa as MV Agusta missed out on a first podium since Imola. Hikari Okubo got the better of Jules Cluzel for fifth in the end with the GMT94 YAMAHA rider scoring ten valuable points to keep his slim championship hopes alive, closing to within 38 of series leader Randy Krummenacher.
Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) followed his team-mate home in seventh with Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) producing an impressive recovery ride on his return from injury, climbing from 21st on the grid to finish eighth. Polesitter Kyle Smith ultimately faded back to ninth, although this result was enough to crown him Europe Supersport Cup winner for 2019. Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) completed a top ten which included all four manufacturers.
The Supersport World Championship now moves on to the Motul Argentinian Round at the Circuito San Juan Villicum with Randy Krummenacher retaining his ten-point lead over team-mate Federico Caricasulo. Jules Cluzel still holds an outside chance of the crown with two races remaining.
P1 - Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
"This was my target when I started the weekend, and this is the best place for me to win. It was a very strange race. I made a good first start and I was at the front, but then the red flag came out. At the restart, I lost some positions, but I kept calm. Randy crashed just in front of me, and I thought that I would crash too. I lost the front group, but I was able to come back and then I had a great fight with many riders. I am not strong on the straights, but I am quite confident in the corners, and there is where I was able to overtake and win!".
First Podium for Viñales in Incident Packed Magny-Cours WorldSSP Thriller
Kallio Racing Yamaha's Isaac Viñales secured his first podium finish in the FIM Supersport World Championship, with a hard fought second place in today's incident packed WorldSSP race at Magny-Cours. GMT94 Yamaha's Jules Cluzel finished in sixth place to close the gap in the championship standings to Bardahl Yamaha's Randy Krummenacher and Federico Caricasulo, both of whom crashed out of today's restarted race.
The initial start saw Cluzel lead the field into the first turn, but the red flag was deployed and the race stopped before the Frenchman had completed the opening lap, in response to an incident at Turn 1 that saw three riders crash out of the race, including GMT94 Yamaha wildcard rider, Maximilien Bau. As a result, the race was reduced from 18 to 12 laps.
Again, it was Cluzel who got the best launch off the line to lead the opening lap, with both Caricasulo and Krummenacher quickly advancing from the second row of the grid to catch the Frenchman. Krummenacher's challenge was short lived, however, as he crashed out of the race at Turn 11 on the opening lap, forcing a number of riders, including GMT94 Yamaha's Corentin Perolari, to take to the grass to avoid him.
With his teammate and main championship rival out of the race, Caricasulo hit the front and immediately pulled a significant gap on his pursuers. Unfortunately, the Italian's challenge also didn't last long, as he crashed at Turn 13 just four laps into the race. The Bardahl Yamaha rider managed to restart, but then crashed again at Turn 3 on the very next lap and was forced to retire.
As the race reached half distance, Cluzel was unable to defend against challenges from first Viñales and then Lucas Mahias, who quickly gapped the Frenchman as they fought out a two-way battle for the race win. It was Viñales who led across the line to start the final lap, but Mahias made a decisive move just four corners from the end, taking the lead from the Spaniard and then defending it to the chequered flag.
Viñales held on for second, while Cluzel crossed the line in sixth place, having been passed by Ayrton Badovini Raffaele De Rosa and Hikari Okubo in the closing stages. Perolari followed his GMT94 Yamaha teammate over the line in seventh, with Kallio Racing Yamaha's Thomas Gradinger and Loris Cresson finishing eighth and 13th respectively.
Krummenacher remains 10 points clear of Caricasulo at the top of the championship standings, while Cluzel in third place is now 38 points adrift of the series leader.
Kallio Racing Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P2
"I'm so happy with this result, as there have been too many crashes this season. But today, I finally made the podium here at Magny-Cours, which is a new track for me. Overall, it's been a hard weekend because of the changeable weather conditions we had in practice and qualifying, which meant we got almost no dry track time ahead of the race. As I said, I'm really happy to have been in the fight for the win until the end and to finally finish on the podium here in France."
Bardahl Evan Bros. Yamaha Supported WorldSSP - DNF
"The highside at that corner was completely unexpected, as I really wasn't on full attack. After a good start I was sat behind Kyle Smith and, like always, analysing the situation before launching an attack, but this time I didn't get the chance. It was a strange crash and we will need to check the data to see exactly what happened. Anyway, not the way I wanted to finish today, but I leave here still with a 10-point lead in the championship with just two races remaining, the first of which is in Argentina, which is a track I really like. It's quite slippery there and conditions like that seem to suit me. Then there's Qatar where I have a lot of experience, so I'm still feeling confident. All I have to do now is get properly fit, as I am still struggling with the knee injury sustained in Portimão. The cut on the knee has been stitched three times now, but because I'm using it, it keeps opening up again, which isn't ideal. But, as I said, I'm still confident that, when we get to Argentina, I'll be ready."
Top Ten for Sebestyen & Points for Danilo in France
Posted on 29th September 2019
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda rider Peter Sebestyen delivered another solid top ten finish in today’s shortened FIM Supersport World Championship race at Magny-Cours.
The 19-lap race was red-flagged following a three-rider collision at Turn 1 on the first lap and the quick start procedure was employed for a shortened race. Starting from the head of the fourth row of the grid, Sebestyen produced his fastest laps of the entire weekend during the 12-lap sprint race to finish tenth.
Sebestyen said: “All in all it was a good race but short again. I mean I think if we start on this bike in an endurance race we would be in a better position because as soon as the tyres drop we are getting faster and faster, especially in the fast corners. I felt very good on the bike, the setting was good yet I don’t have any idea how to improve on it. But we’ll find out something. For sure Qatar will be a very good race for us because of the fast corners, for Argentina we will have to check the data. It was a positive weekend but we have to really understand how we can improve in the short, slow corners.”
Teammate Jules Danilo rounded off a challenging home race weekend at Magny-Cours with a points scoring twelfth place finish in front of the ardent French crowd
Danilo said: “Well it was a very tough race and at the moment I don’t really have an explanation. I got a good start but then realised I had no pace so I just kept getting passed by guys. I couldn’t go any faster and just dropped back and got lucky because there were a few crashes. I don’t know why but it just hasn’t happened and it should have, it’s a track I like and we were going strong in the last race. Now I need to scratch my head and understand why I was slow today.”
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda Team Manager Simon Buckmaster said: “It was quite a strong race for Peter, the lap times were competitive. The shortened race didn’t favour him, he was coming stronger in the race but of course, we still need to be stronger at the start of a race. He was only six seconds off the win in the 12-laps so he is closing the distance to the leaders. Obviously we were looking for more but it was a strong tenth place nevertheless. Jules was having trouble getting the bike to turn in the race although we weren’t having that issue in warm-up. I’m sure he would have wanted more and to be able to challenge his teammate but he finished in the points at his home round.”
TENTH ROUND OF THE FIM SUPERSPORT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: KRUMMENACHER CRASHES ON LAP ONE BUT RETAINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD WITH A TEN-POINT ADVANTAGE OVER CARICASULO
Magny Cours, 29 September 2019
An action-packed weekend which began on Friday with very unstable weather and continued in a similar vein on Saturday, Krummenacher qualifying sixth in a wet Superpole.
The final European race of the championship took place today, the series set to move on to Argentina over the weekend of 11-13 October. The final round will then play out at Doha, in Qatar, the night-time finale taking place on 26 October.
Krummenacher, who came to France as championship leader, with a ten-point lead over team-mate Federico Caricasulo, will travel to Argentina in the same condition, having retained his lead. At 12.15 local time the tenth race of the season got underway but was almost immediately halted with the red flag following an incident involving three riders further down the field.
The riders returned to the track soon after, with the lights going out for the second time at 12.40, for a Supersport race reduced to 12 laps, with respect to the original 19.
Krummenacher, who got away from sixth on the grid, was unable to complete lap one. The swiss rider fell victim to a crash at turn 9 which forced him to retire. Krummenacher nevertheless remains championship leader, as team-mate Caricasulo, second in the standings, also crashed out, failing to score points which means Krummenacher retains his 10-point advantage.
The remaining rounds, which will serve to crown the Supersport 600 world champion, promise to be very exciting in light of how this weekend played out. Krummenacher will now focus on getting back in top shape in order to express his full potential on 13 October at the San Juan circuit.
#RK21: “It’s not the result I expected of course, I crashed on lap one and was unable to continue. A crash that is hard to explain but fortunately I came out of it with only some bruising. I was unlucky but also lucky in that my advantage over my team-mate remains the same as before and so I’m still leading the championship. Now I have around ten days before leaving for Argentina and I’ll focus on getting back into perfect shape as I’m still not 100% following the Portimao crash. Thanks to my team, my family and my sponsors for all their support, allowing me to continue to fight for the world title”.
WorldSSP300: Carrasco wins as Gonzalez becomes WorldSSP300 champion!
The 2018 and 2019 champions take centre stage as victorious Carrasco hands over the crown
The Pirelli French Round saw a special moment in the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship as Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) claimed her second victory of the season, while also handing over her crown to Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) who clinched the 2019 title with second place, succeeding Carrasco as world champion.
Chasing the victory he needed to keep his title hopes alive, Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) made the perfect start to lead the opening lap although several riders were eying up the all-important slipstream which makes such a difference in WorldSSP300. Gonzalez was faced with a tricky task of picking his way through the traffic but the 17-year-old made steady progress, climbing to fourth by the end of Lap 2.
Gonzalez hit the front for the first time on Lap 4, drafting past Carrasco on the run towards the Adelaide hairpin, but with no-one able to escape the group, the championship leader soon slipped back into the pack. A leading group of four was soon established at the front though with Carrasco, Gonzalez and Deroue joined by Andy Verdoia (BCD Yamaha MS Racing) while Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) fell back after a brief spell out front.
Mindful that third place would guarantee the championship even if Scott Deroue won, Manuel Gonzalez will have been happy to see such a small leading group and rode a mature race, keeping his title rivals in sight at all times. Deroue wasn’t giving it up without a fight though and set a New Record on the penultimate lap as he desperately tried to improve on fourth. The fight for the win was settled in Carrasco’s favour though courtesy of a last lap move on Verdoia at the 180 corner, while Gonzalez made sure of the title by outbraking the French rider, and Deroue into Turn 15 to snatch second.
As a result, Gonzalez becomes the youngest ever world champion in motorcycle road racing history, and follows in the footsteps of Carrasco and Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) as the third WorldSSP300 champion, each hailing from Spain. Gonzalez also sets a new points record for a single season in the class with today’s result, and has the opportunity to add to that tally at the final round of the season at Losail in October.
Scott Deroue took the final podium position, and now goes to Qatar level on points with Carrasco in the battle to finish championship runner-up, while Andy Verdoia maintains an outside chance after finishing fourth. Galang Hendra Pratama finished a lonely fifth in the end while Livio Loi (2R Racing Team), winner of yesterday’s Last Chance Race, stormed through the field from 29th on the grid to take sixth.
Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) matched his best result of the season in seventh, the sixth different nationalities within that top seven, with Jeffrey Buis (MTM Racing Team) also claiming his best result of 2019 in eighth. Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) was ninth, continuing his consistent campaign while Nick Kalinin (Nutec - RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) kept up his strong recent form by rounding out the top ten.
P1 - Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300)
"I am very happy with this victory. I think we have done a good job all weekend! It's a shame to lose the championship here where I won it last year. But now we have to focus on the battle for the second position in the overall standings. We will try to win in Qatar and we will see. I want to congratulate Manuel because he did quite a perfect season and he deserves the title this year".
The wonderkid from Madrid: Manuel González, 2019 WorldSSP300 Champion
17-year-old prodigy seals title win with a race to spare
Manuel González (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) has asserted himself as one of the most exciting young riders in motorcycling racing by winning the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship with one round to go, after taking 2nd place in Magny-Cours in a hair-raising battle throughout the race.
The ParkinGO Team rider follows in the footsteps of Marc García and Ana Carrasco, 2017 & 2018 champions respectively, and extends the Spanish domination of the feeder series. Unlike his compatriots, however, González has managed to avoid any last-second drama by securing the title with ease, in a season that has established the teenager as one to watch inside the WorldSBK paddock.
Turning seventeen just last August, González’s staggering precocity has led him to shatter record after record on course to his maiden title win. His path to World Supersport 300 glory began in 2017 when he participated in the final race of the season as a wildcard, becoming the second youngest starter that season. The soon-to-be European Talent Cup champion qualified in a brilliant sixth and was amongst the leading riders when a technical issue forced him to enter pit-lane early on.
It was a first – if brief – glimpse into the teenager’s talents. Many more examples were to follow in 2018 as González joined the series full-time on a Yamaha YZF-R3. After a somewhat troubled start, with three no-scores inside the opening five races and a best result of ninth, he sprang to life in the last three rounds with consecutive third-place finishes. The first of those, at Misano, made him the youngest rider to feature on a WorldSSP300 podium, one month before his 16th birthday.
González was recruited by Kawasaki ParkinGO for his sophomore season, switching machinery in the process. This proved to be a particularly inspired move: on his debut at MotorLand Aragon, he took his first pole position, before romping to a 0.058s win over Hugo De Cancellis and shattering García’s record as the youngest WorldSSP300 race winner by a full ten months.
History repeated itself seven days later at Assen. Second on the grid, the teenager set himself up beautifully in the final lap, surging from the back of the leading group and beating homeboy Scott Deroue in another close finish to take win number two. One week, 50 points: perfection.
The cancellation of the Imola race led the WorldSSP300 grid into back-to-back races at Jerez, the same venue that witnessed González’s first steps in the series less than two years before. Fourth at the flag in Race 1 behind previous champions Garcia and Carrasco as well as Deroue, the Spaniard was not going to take their challenge lying down. Smartening up for the final lap of Race 2, González bossed his way into the lead at the final turn and stole win number three. The higher the stakes rose, the more he upped his game.
Carrasco would win next time around in Misano, however a cool second from González ensured that he would make it to the summer break with a cozy double-digit buffer, even in the worst-case scenario that immediately followed. The championship leader damaged his shoulder on a wet track at Donington Park, falling awkwardly before his own Kawasaki dived on top of him. González suffered his first no-score of the season – yet it was one that barely rattled the Spaniard, as none of his three closest contenders managed to capitalise on his misfortune.
Two months down the line, González faced his first shot at world championship glory. It failed to materialise there, yet he left the Portuguese rollercoaster as champion in all but name, after picking up second behind Deroue. Twelve points over two rounds would be enough – González did it in one, at Magny-Cours.
Previous WorldSSP300 champions needed an eleventh-hour surge to write their names into WorldSBK history. Not ‘Manugas’. He has passed every test with flying colours and can now sit back and enjoy the final event in Qatar devoid of any pressure, while he patiently awaits the new chapter of what promises to be an illustrious career.
Congratulate González on social media using the hashtag #GASChamp
Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team)
"It has been almost a perfect season. We were on the podium almost in every race this year, we got several wins, and we did only one zero. I don't have words to describe this. It has been incredible! Thanks to all my family, for all the sacrifices that we did and thanks to all the people that were there for me, my team, Kawasaki. Thank you so much!".