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Huertas Wins Both Magny Cours Thrillers
Two 13 lap WorldSSP300 races at a sun-kissed Magny Cours circuit saw championship leader Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) take two narrow victories after the usual epic collection of passing maneuvers and changing fortunes throughout the smallest capacity championship inside the WorldSBK paddock.
The young riders in the WorldSSP300 class, all competing on lightly modified road-going machines, race in WorldSSP as a global showcase for their talents - as well as fighting for a full-status FIM World Championship in the process.
At the fifth round of the series, which featured two individual races, as usual, the modern classic Magny Cours circuit in France was the popular host venue. It was especially popular this year in early September as the weather for the most part was warm and sunny - and on Sunday positively hot.
In the first 13-lap WorldSSP300 race around the 4.411km long circuit, the early fight for the win took place between six riders, five of whom were on Kawasaki Ninja400 machines.
Huertas, championship second place rider Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki), local rider Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki) plus Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), and Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) fought it out with lone Yamaha rider Bahattin Sofuoglu in the Saturday sunshine.
The leading group was setting times well under the previous track best on what was in effect new and improved asphalt since the last dry track experience the WorldSSP riders enjoyed at Magny Cours, in 2019. 2020 was almost exclusively wet at Magny Cours.
Huertas had taken his first career Superpole win on Saturday, with a new Superpole record of 1’52.918, and a new track best in FP2 of 1’52.859, set during ideal conditions on Friday afternoon.
As the opening race reached its midway point the following group of riders behind the leading bunch worked together to reach the front and the podium fight grew to include a potential 11 riders in all.
Huertas showed his pace and determination to ease out to a clear lead with a few laps left to run. He would, however, be hunted down by his big championship rival Booth-Amos, and the rapidly closing Di Sora, on the final lap.
Huertas would hold on to win and record his fourth race victory of 2021, extending his championship lead over Booth-Amos at the same time.
Booth-Amos would set a new lap record of 1’52.927 on lap 12 of 13, as he tried to get back on terms with the fleeing Huertas. He would miss out on victory by just 0.588 seconds.
The British rider would hold onto second place from Di Sora but came close to crashing over the finish line as he rode over the inside kerbstone and then applied to too much throttle in the final corner exit. His rear tire lost traction, almost catapulting him into the air, but he recovered his composure and crossed the line in second place.
The three podium riders were covered by just 0.810 seconds at the flag. Di Sora was an understandably popular podium finisher at his home round.
Dorren Loureiro (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) was fourth, 3.564 seconds back from the winner - which in this class is a massive amount but may be considered a narrow margin in many other categories of racing.
Kawasaki riders filled the first six places with Daniel Mogeda (Team109 Kawasaki), and Inigo Iglesias (SMW Racing Kawasaki) filling fifth and sixth positions respectively.
Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing Kawasaki) was tenth, Koen Meuffels (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) was 12th, 2018 World Champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) 13th, with all scoring championship points.
2020 World Champion Buis and Yamaha rider Sofuoglu clashed and crashed, with Buis restarting but finishing down in 25th place. His fortunes would improve in Race Two.
In the second WorldSSP300 race of the French weekend, Huertas won yet again, to take his fifth win of 2021, from Booth-Amos and a resurgent Buis. The all Kawasaki podium was covered by just 0.446 seconds after a frantic and thrilling 13-lap race in hot temperatures.
Fifth place went to Okaya, with Iglesias eighth, Loureiro ninth, and Mogeda tenth.
Carrasco placed 11th, but just over five seconds from the winner, with Di Sora 12th. Marc Garcia (Prodina Team Kawasaki) was the 15th and final points scorer.
After two more breathless races in the most action-packed series imaginable Huertas leads with 179 points, from Booth-Amos on 158, Buis on 102, and Di Sora goes back to fourth with 97 points. Nine of the top ten riders in the current rankings are on Kawasaki Ninja 400 machines. Kawasaki leads the Manufacturers’ Championship by 119 points.
The next round will take place at the Circuit de Barcelona - Catalunya between 17-19 September, which starts a run of three consecutive rounds to the conclusion of the championship at Portimao on October 3.
Adrian Huertas (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “It was a great weekend. It was cool to get my first pole position. I was also very happy with my victory in the first race, because I pushed constantly, but the second race was even harder. I had a problem with my bike, but the strategy on the last lap worked out well and I managed to win again. I want to thank the team for their hard work to achieve these results. Also thanks to my sponsors, family, and everyone who supports me.”
Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki), stated: “In the first race I struggled a bit at the beginning because I got beat up by other riders and dropped back to fifth or sixth. Finally, I got back up to second and closed the gap to Adrian in first. This was good but on the last lap, I had a little problem in the right-hand corner and lost maybe half a second. Another crazy race on Sunday and was more difficult because there were more riders in the group. With the conditions, I was struggling a little bit with the bike, because it is a lot hotter than Race One. Finally, we came away with a second-place again and salvaged more points for the championship.”
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “We tested at Magny-Cours, so we could start with a good setup right away. Practice went well and I was very happy with my third position on the grid. The first race was also good. I was at the front and the plan was to attack in the closing stages. It was a shame we crashed, where we lost a lot of important points. The other rider braked much earlier than usual and I couldn't avoid him. I’m very happy that we were able to finish our strong weekend on the podium. It was a good second race and I was able to take third place in the last sector.”
Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki), stated: “I am happy to be here at Magny Cours; seeing the fans out there cheering and enjoying the races was great. Third place in Race One - again - I am getting a bit tired of third place. It is very complicated in Supersport 300 to get to the win. You have to be a bit lucky and place yourself very well on the last laps. But the team has made a very good job this weekend, including my best Superpole qualifying so far, so I am happy about that. It makes things a bit easier and we had a few changes on the bike for Race One. They worked, but not totally. I feel strong on my bike and with my team.”
Ana Carrasco (Provec Kawasaki Racing), stated: “I'm happy with today's race because I think we took a big step compared with yesterday. We have been fighting in the leading group and the pace has been fast. I think the team worked very well throughout the weekend and the changes they made to the bike today worked well. Clearly, we are not in the position that I believe we can be in, but we are suffering in some aspects that I hope we can solve for the next race. Now to think about the Barcelona Round, a home race that we will try to take advantage of 100%.”
Koen Meuffels (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “The start of the first race was good. After a difficult Superpole, I had to start from P18. I rode from the second group to the leading group. I was in P6 when another rider crashed in front of me, forcing me off the track. I lost about ten seconds. I was happy with my pace, but of course not with my 12th place. The crash in the second race was my own fault. I have never achieved good results at Magny-Cours and unfortunately, it was the same this year. Now we’re preparing for the Catalunya round, a circuit that suits me well.”
Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), stated: “I had a good feeling with the bike from Superpole after a difficult first day. In the first race, it was not bad. I had a good position in the leading group, but I hit the white line and crashed. That was a real bummer. But in the second race, we managed to get a good result with fifth place. I pushed hard, but it was just not enough for the podium. Now, on to Catalunya!”