Plenty to play for as World Supersport heads to the Circuito Estoril for the very first time.
The FIM Supersport World Championship heads to the Circuito Estoril for the Pirelli Estoril Round as the Portuguese circuit hosts the WorldSSP season finale; the first time World Supersport machines will race around the 4.182km track. The circuit features 13 turns and a start and finish straight of almost 1km, where action is guaranteed down into Turn 1. Andrea Locatelli (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) are already confirmed as first and second in the Championship but it’s a big battle for third.
While Andrea Locatelli may have wrapped up the title with four races to spare, he will be looking to bounce back from an up-and-down French Round; he was victorious in Race 1 but crashed out on the Warm-Up lap of Race 2 and was unable to take the start of the race. Will Locatelli be able to master another new circuit and end the season with more wins to his name? A new track always brings neutrality, but can he overcome it? Locatelli goes into the season finale with his future secured: the Italian will race for the PATA YAMAHA WorldSBK Official Team in 2021.
Frenchman Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) ended his win drought in sensational style in Race 2 at Magny-Cours and has now secured second place in the Riders’ Championship for 2020 and has been rewarded with a move to WorldSBK for 2021. Mahias has won eight races in his WorldSSP career and will be looking to add to that tally before he moves into WorldSBK full time. Mahias like many others doesn’t have any experience at the circuit but you can’t discount him.
Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) was unable to compete at his home race following an injury sustained in a crash with Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) at the Teruel Round. Missing two rounds and four races meant Cluzel has been unable to fight for the Championship and has now lost second to fellow Frenchman Mahias. Should he be declared fit for the Estoril Round, Cluzel will be hoping he can secure third in the Championship where he is currently in a battle with Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing).
German rider Oettl is currently 15 points back from Cluzel after a challenging weekend at a wet Magny-Cours where he finished 14th and 11th in Race 1 and Race 2 respectively. Oettl will be looking to finish the season strongly as he tries to overhaul Cluzel for third in the standings while he will also need to hold off the challenge from De Rosa with the Italian just 12 points behind. Oettl is one of a few riders across WorldSBK, WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 who has experience of the Estoril circuit having raced there and scored a best result of second in 2012 in the Red Bull Rookies Cup; finishing alongside WorldSSP300 riders Scott Deroue and Karel Hanika.
Raffaele De Rosa lies fifth in the Championship as the highest placed MV Agusta Reparto Corse rider in the standings with the Italian closing in on Oettl courtesy of the six-point net gain he made across the Magny-Cours weekend. While he’ll have one eye on catching Oettl ahead, he will also need to keep an eye on what is happening just behind him in the Championship.
The Championship battle for fifth is heating up with South African rider Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing) just seven points behind de Rosa with two races to go and will be looking to haul himself above De Rosa. Odendaal is yet to stand on a podium in 2020 but has been scoring consistent top ten results; the South African will be hoping that elusive podium comes sooner rather than later.
Hot on the heels of Odendaal is WorldSSP rookie and 2019 WorldSSP300 Champion Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team). The Spanish rider trails Odendaal by just four points and will be looking to overhaul the South African, having been extremely impressive in recent rounds. Gonzalez will need to be careful of Corentin Perolari (GMT94 Yamaha) who is only seven points behind the Spaniard and will be hoping he can move up in the Championship.
There is also a tight battle between Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) and teammate Hannes Soomer for ninth and tenth in the standings with just three points separating the duo. This follows Soomer making history at Magny-Cours when he became the first Estonian rider to stand on the WorldSSP podium. Who will come out on top in this intra-team battle?
There will be some new faces on the grid too as Vincent Falcone makes his WorldSSP debut, replacing the WorldSBK-bound Loris Cresson at OXXO Yamaha Team Toth. Angolan rider Victor Alexandre Da Silva Barros (Parkalgar Yamaha – Evan Bros) will also make his debut in WorldSSP as a wildcard rider at Estoril and will thus become the first ever Angolan rider on the grid across any class in WorldSBK’s history, alongside Pedro Nuno Romero Barbosa.
Championship Standings after Race 2, Round 7
1. Andrea Locatelli (ITA) Yamaha (288 points)
2. Lucas Mahias (FRA) Kawasaki (204 points)
3. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Yamaha ( 146 points)
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