The season finale of the World Supersport 300 Championship is approaching, as the class takes on its first visit outside of Europe to the Motul Qatar Round. The Losail International Circuit should lend itself perfectly to the WorldSSP300 field, with fast and flowing corners and a 1068m front straight. The Champion has already been crowned with Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) taking WorldSSP300 honours, but the battle behind him for second place is raging, with three riders in mathematic contention for runner-up spot in 2019.
It has been a stunning season for Manuel Gonzalez, having romped clear at the head of the field and wrapped the Championship up with a round to spare, making him the youngest ever FIM Road Racing World Champion. Like most of the WorldSSP300 class, it is the first visit to Losail for Gonzalez, and he will be out to reinforce the fact that he is Champion for a reason. He could be the first WorldSSP300 rider in history to achieve four race wins in one year.
The battle for second is the focus point and former Moto3™ stars Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) and Scott Deroue (Kawasaki MOTOPORT) have an advantage over Andy Verdoïa (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), having been to the circuit before. However, back then, neither were able to score points, so it is more of a level playing field than it could’ve been. With both Deroue and Carrasco winning at Portimao and Magny-Cours respectively, the pressure is certainly on Verdoïa, who hasn’t been on the podium since Donington Park in July.
Mathematically, fourth is still possible for Victor Steeman (Freudenberg KTM Junior Team) but he is 20 points away. Moreover, he is leading the battle for the final position inside the top five in the standings. The Dutch rider’s consistency has seen him finish in the points in every single race this year, although his nearest rival is right behind him. Marc Garcia (DS Junior Team) is just one point behind Steeman, whilst seven points further back is Steeman’s teammate, Jan-Ole Jahnig, who was last on the podium at Assen.
There is then a six-point gap which sees Galang Hendra Pratama (Semakin Di Depan Biblion Motoxracing) occupy eighth place, just 14 points from Steeman in fifth. He will be joined in the team this weekend by fellow Indonesian rider, Muhammad Faerozi. Hugo De Cancellis (Team Trasimeno Yamaha) is in the battle for fifth overall too, although he is 22 points behind Steeman. He is joint on points with an in-form Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki), with the Ukrainian rider completing the top ten. Fifth to tenth have a mathematical chance of the top five, but all eyes are on Steeman, Garcia and Jahnig.
Other riders who are going to be eager to fight their way into the top ten overall include Kevin Sabatucci (Team Trasimeno Yamaha), who was victorious in dramatic fashion at Donington Park. The top Italian in the Championship lies 11th overall and with a strong result in Qatar, could break into the top ten placings. Fellow countryman Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) is still in search of his first podium and having been inside the top ten until Donington Park, he will be eager to make it back into those positions.
Making his debut in Qatar, as well as Muhammad Faerozi, will be Dallas Daniels, who is one of the next stars coming from the United States. At just 16, he has been a race winner in the Liqui Moly Junior Cup in MotoAmerica, on his way to finishing third. There is one other rider swap and that is Oliver König (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team), who replaces Koen Meuffels – the former race winner parted ways with the team ahead of Portimao.