After a long offseason, the World Supersport Championship is returning to action with new riders and a new format adding to the challenge
By the time the FIM Supersport World Championship resumes racing for Race 1 on the Saturday of the Pirelli Aragon Round, it will have been 216 days since the last WorldSSP race; a thrilling four-way battle in Race 2 of the Estoril Round. With the long off-season out of the way, it’s time to get back racing with MotorLand Aragon hosting the opening round of the season. There has been another format tweak to the weekend to add into the mix with the removal of Free Practice 3 and a shorter Tissot Superpole session.
The grid has undergone something of a change over the offseason with last season’s top two, Andrea Locatelli and Lucas Mahias, heading to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship for 2021. Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) is the highest-placed rider from last season to remain in WorldSSP and he lines up with a new teammate as Turkish star Can Öncü joins the Kawasaki Puccetti outfit.
With Locatelli’s move to WorldSBK, Steven Odendaal replaces him at Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team as the outfit goes for three titles in a row after claiming success in 2019 and 2020. Randy Krummenacher, who claimed their first title, returns to the Championship in search of his second title as he joins EAB Racing Team for 2021.
Also returning to WorldSSP for this season is Federico Caricasulo (GMT94 Yamaha) after a season in WorldSBK, alongside Jules Cluzel who goes in search of his first title after finishing runner-up on three occasions. There are a number of other riders returning to the Championship in 2021 too, with Michel Fabrizio (G.A.P MOTOZOO Racing by Puccetti) returning after 16 years away from WorldSSP, and Pawel Szkopek (Yamaha MS Racing) starting his first WorldSSP Round for the first time since 2012, alongside Spanish rider Marc Alcoba.
One rider who has been catching attention in testing is rookie Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), with the Swiss rider showing his pace before racing gets underway. The Moto2™ stalwart will be paired with Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama who enters his second season of WorldSSP in 2021.
Kallio Racing return with Hannes Soomer for 2021 after the Estonian rider made history with Estonia’s first podiums last season, while he will be joined by rookie Vertti Takala at the team for 2021. WorldSSP race winner Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Clienti Corse) makes his comeback as the sole MV Agusta representative, joining fellow compatriot Takala on the grid.
Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) remains in the Championship after an ultra-consistent 2020 campaign, although he faces a new challenge in 2021 as he switches from Kawasaki machinery to Yamaha. Italian Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) has a new team for 2021 as he switches to Orelac Racing, alongside Leonardo Taccini who will compete in the WorldSSP Challenge.
De Rosa’s former teammate, Federico Fuligni, also has a new team for 2021 as he moves to VFT Racing alongside fellow Italian Davide Pizzoli. Luca Bernardi (CM Racing) will become the second Sammarinese representative in WorldSSP history when he takes to the grid this season, while Danny Webb (WRP Wepol Racing) and Christoffer Berman (Wojcik Racing Team) both return for another season with their respective teams.
In the WorldSSP Challenge, which also kicks off this weekend, Taccini will go up against reigning WorldSSP Challenge winner Kevin Manfredi (Altogo Racing Team), the returning Thomas Gradinger (DK Motorsport), Maria Herrera (Biblion Iberica Yamaha Motoxracing), Luigi Montella (Chiodo Moto Racing), Shogo Kawasaki (G.A.P. MOTOZOO Racing by Puccetti) and Stephane Frossard (Moto Team Jura Vitesse).
The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship kicks off its fifth season this weekend with numerous changes to the grid, new rules and new scenarios…
After a very long preseason for fans and riders, it is finally time to start racing for the 42 riders entered in WorldSSP300, the smallest and busiest displacement in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship. For the first time since its launch in 2017, the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship begins in parallel with the other two categories and does so in a very familiar setting, MotorLand Aragon, the track that has hosted the largest number of races in the category, with seven to date.
The current champion, Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki), will start the defence of his title with a unique advantage: He achieved the most victories on the Spanish track, thanks to the three successes in 2020 in the Aragon and Teruel Rounds.
Only the Turkish rider Bahattin Sofuoglu (Biblion Yamaha Motoxracing) prevented the complete success of the Dutchman with his victory in Race 1 of Teruel and, together with Buis and his compatriot and teammate Koen Meuffels (MTM Kawasaki), they are the only riders of the 2021 grid that have climbed to the top of the podium in Aragon.
In addition, Sofuoglu led the timesheets in the Test supported by Dorna held at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and Buis was the fastest on the last day, so they are, for two reasons, the main reference at the start of the new season.
However, after four exciting campaigns, WorldSSP300 already has other figures who are also reference and history in the championship, such as the champion of the inaugural season, Marc García (2R Racing), who is preparing to play a full campaign after his part-time return in 2020, or 2018 champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300), who approaches her fifth season in the category already fully recovered from the injury that ruined her 2020 campaign.
Both will set out with the intention of achieving their first victory in the Alcañiz track, which would be a good first step towards the goal of securing a second crown.
The unprecedented confluence of three champions on the WordSSP300 grid will be one of the great attractions and stories of the year, but there are many other names in the large and mixed group of the 2021 season, which combines riders who already have some route and record in the category, with numerous newcomers eager to start making their mark.
Among the former, Brit Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport – Rt Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) is one who stands out after a race-winning debut campaign, Japanese Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki) after making history in 2020 or the Spanish Unai Orradre (Yamaha MS Racing), WorldSSP300’s youngest ever race winner; a trio that stood atop the podium, but also the Brazilian brothers Ton and Meikon Kawakami (AD78 Team Brasil by MS Racing), providing a lot of spectacular moments throughout 2020, or the Madrid-born Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki), one of the riders who stood out during the preseason and that this year he has joined the powerful squad led by Champion Buis.
The list of newcomers is vast and includes riders from four continents, proof of the attraction generated by this category, which constitutes a fabulous gateway to the international motorcycling scene.
As in WorldSSP, the category maintains in 2021 the format of the two races per weekend, ensuring action on both Saturday and Sunday. But there are notable changes in the format and all participants, beginners and experienced will have to adapt to them.
The third free practice session that was held on Saturday mornings has been eliminated and the previous structure with two groups has also disappeared, which means that all 42 riders will be on the track at the same time during all sessions, and all will participate in the two races. Who will get more out of the new rules of the game? Discover the answer, starting next Friday at MotorLand Aragon!