Summer sunshine, the Adriatic Sea a stone’s throw away, a two month break ahead… It would be tempting for the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship challengers to let off the throttle and go with the flow at the Rimini di Riviera Round, and take a breather before the final two battles of 2018. But it’s a far cry from what most will be thinking heading to Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. But there will be no room for respite, as the up coming thirteen laps in Italy will decide the season for many a rider.
Coming under the spotlight once again, Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) had her least successful race this season last time around at Brno, crossing the line in eleventh amidst the red flag chaos. But she’s still 20 points ahead in the standings, and a win at Misano would secure her a strong chance at taking the title fight to the end of the season. Carrasco secured the overall lead at Imola with a scintillating performance – can Italy bring her joy again?
She’s not the only talented Spanish rider vying for that title however. One in particular has risen to the challenge through sheer consistency, taking three podiums in the last three races. Borja Sanchez (ETG Racing) is yet to win a WorldSSP300 race, but he may not even need to. Last year’s champion Marc Garcia averaged less than 16 points per race, and with regular rostrum finishes, Sanchez is already a huge threat. If he can secure that final push for the victory and improve his overall pace, who knows if the championship could be on its way to Galicia.
Another rider with impressive consistency this season is Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), who sits 21 points behind Carrasco and remains a dangerous challenger, despite not returning to the podium since his last lap triumph at Assen. The German is the only rider across the field to have recorded top 10 finishes in every race so far, and is a safe bet for another good result at the Pirelli Riviera di Rimini round.
At Brno four weeks ago there were three Yamaha bikes in the top 10, including the Czech Round race winner. Galang Hendra Pratama (BIBLION YAMAHA MOTOXRACING) has two victories in seven WorldSSP300 starts, as the youngster continues to get to grips with racing on the world scene. The Indonesian has been attracting a huge following in Indonesia, and could be the one to watch after the summer if he picks up another win in Misano.
One of the most marvelous facets of the WorldSSP300 championship is how ample the list of realistic race winners is (just ask Hendra Pratama, who was outside the championship top 10 before Brno). Nearly every rider can win any given race: the likes of 2017 Riviera di Rimini Round winner Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team), Jan-Ole Jähnig (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team), or Nick Kalinin (GP Project Team) are all tenth or lower in the standings, yet it would be foolish to brush any of them off. And what about Kevin Sabatucci (PROGP Racing) or Manuel Bastianelli (PRODINA IRCOS TEAM), both returning after strong wildcard appearances at Imola? The field is talented, the bikes are even and the pace is electric: in WorldSSP300, it ain’t over until it’s over. Bring on Misano.
Follow all the on track action around the 4.2km circuit, as bikes take to the track from 11.45LT (+2 GMT) on Friday, before Saturday’s Superpole at 11.30 and the lights go out for the race at 14.20 on Sunday.