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25 Сентябрь 2022

Okaya And Steeman Deliver Big Kawasaki Wins

The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship, now in its sixth year of competition, enjoyed an exciting penultimate round at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this weekend. Not one but two Kawasaki riders enjoyed the spoils of a hard fought but well deserved victory.

Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki) took the main trophy in Race One by just 0.069 seconds, from championship leader Alvaro Diaz, but only after an unstoppable final corner overtake and short sprint to the finish line.

In Race Two, also run over 12 uninterrupted laps of the famous 4.657km long circuit, championship hopeful Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki) enjoyed a dominant victory. He was fully 5.618 seconds ahead of second place rider Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing Kawasaki) - an age in a series well known for multiple riders fighting from the podium places from the first lap to the last.

As well as some regular Kawasaki riders getting on the podium an all new and very youthful face appeared on the Race One podium in his native Spain. First time WorldSSP300 rider Julio Garcia Gonzalez (ESP Solutions Motap Racing Team Kawasaki) took third place - and only missed what would have been a spectacular first win by 0.157 seconds. He is just 16 years of age.

The final result of the race action at Catalunya, thanks to Steeman’s Race Two win, is that the championship can only be decided at the final round - even if Victor has to rely on some unlikely outcomes to become the champion in 2022.

A lot of work and effort went into the weekend long before Race One took place on Saturday 24 September.

In Superpole qualifying Steeman was once again unbeatable, taking pole position for the third time this year. It was his sixth career Superpole win, giving him more than any other rider in history.

He was, however, to suffer another double long lap penalty in Race One, as he had done in the previous round at Magny Cours - ironically for riding too slowly at one stage of the Superpole session he would go on to win.

He took one long lap punishment early and got shuffled far back in the chasing pack. He then had to take another penalty before he could concentrate on chasing championship leader Alvaro Diaz. He was not able to get back to a race-winning position but he recovered well to take eighth place.

Dani Mogeda (Team 109 Kawasaki) was taken out of the lead by another rider, losing his chance to compete for the win at the end of 12 thrilling laps.

On the final corner of Race One Okaya swept underneath Diaz to take his second career victory at the very same venue he took his first back in 2020. He was understandably ecstatic to win in such a fashion, having had some injury issues this year.

He was joined on the podium by Garcia Gonzalez, while Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing WorldSSP300) led the second group home, only 0.470 seconds from the race winning time.

With Steeman eighth, Bruno Ieraci (Prodina Racing Kawasaki) was ninth, and the third MTM Kawasaki rider at this round, Ruben Bijman, was 11th.

Kevin Sabatucci (Kawasaki GP Project), Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) and Alessandro Zanca (Kawasaki GP Project) all scored points, as nine Kawasaki riders got themselves inside the top 15 places.

Unencumbered by any long lap penalties in the second Barcelona race on Sunday 25 September Steeman made it his personal property, once he broke free from the chasing group.

De Cancellis was the rider who headed up the rest of the pack, a phenomenon which saw a rolling collection of 21 riders and machinery all finish within less than two seconds of each other.

Jose Luis Perez (Accolade Smrz Racing Kawasaki) placed fifth and De Cancellis’ team-mate Ieraci seventh. Garcia Gonzales was not on the podium this time but ninth, as Inigo Iglesias (SWM Racing Kawasaki) took the last position inside the top ten.

In the championship standings, with seven rounds and 14 individual races completed, Diaz has 230 points, Steeman 180, Marc Garcia 157, De Cancellis 140 and Di Sora 132.

Steeman is thus exactly 50 points behind leader Diaz, with 50 points still on the table for any rider who can win both races in the Portuguese finale. To be champion Steeman will have to win both those races and see Diaz no-score in each race. If they are tied on points, Steeman would be champion no matter what, as he already has five wins in 2022 and Diaz only two. Any points score from Diaz, whatever the results in the Portuguese races for Steeman, will see him crowned champion, not Steeman.

MTM Kawasaki’s two race wins at Barcelona helped the Benelux team win its own championship trophy - with one round and two whole races to spare.

In the Manufacturers’ Championship Kawasaki is just 15 points behind Yamaha, with those final two races to go. Strong podium showings from the top Kawasaki riders at Portimao could still swing that championship Kawasaki’s way.

In short, many things will be decided at the Autodrom Internacional do Algarve, between 7-9 October.

Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “I’m very happy about my Race Two win. Finally we were able to show our pace without penalties and the result came easily. We had a great weekend, unfortunately we couldn’t get both wins. We were unlucky in Race One, but in Race Two finally we got what we deserved. I want to thank all the team for the incredible job, we are working hard and the results are coming.”

Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “That’s incredible for me! I’m very happy for the Saturday race win, as we were fast all the weekend and we had a good pace. It’s really good to be able to win a race in this way. I won the same way in 2020 with a last corner overtake and it’s amazing for me. On Sunday I lost position in the middle of the race, it was a crazy group race and in the end I finished P13. Not what we wanted but we have the pace and we will try to continue this way in Portimao to end the season in style.”

Julio Garcia Gonzalez (ESP Solutions Motap Racing Team Kawasaki), stated: “My first race in WorldSSP300 was crazy. It was my first race and first podium in WorldSSP300. I am very happy for the podium finish and thank you to my team. From Free Practice onwards the results were good and the feeling was good with the bike.”

Ruben Bijman, stated: “The weekend has been very tough. I had to get very used to getting back into the flow. After a really bad qualifying session, I managed to work my way from 27 to 11th position in Race One and again to 12th position in Race Two. I’m happy with the weekend overall, it’s just a shame about qualifying because - probably - with a better one we could have taken better results. Now we focus on Portimao to finish the season in the best way possible.”

Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing Kawasaki), stated: “In qualifying I suffered from the somewhat strange conditions and I was unable to do a good lap. So, I started a little behind. But I'm very happy because I made a nice comeback and after just a few laps I was in the top positions. Race Two was a good race. I managed to conquer the podium, which was our goal. The victory today was very difficult, but I am still very happy with the many points won in terms of the championship. In Portimao we hope to end the season in style.”

Bruno Ieraci (Prodina Racing Kawasaki), stated: “We certainly enjoyed ourselves in Race One. The race went well, although I started last due to a penalty. I still managed to conquer the top ten. Saturday was a difficult test, but I managed to make a great comeback showing that we have a good pace. Sunday went better than yesterday. I’m happy for the result, shame about only getting near the podium, but I fought for it until the end. I had a good pace but in the final sprint I ended up in the grass and had to roll off the gas so I was unable to take advantage. Now we focus on Portimao where I want to be on the podium because I think the team and I deserve it.”


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