Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) tightened his grip on the championship lead despite not adding to his win or podium totals at his home round, and having a heavy fall on the first day of practice.
Kawasaki Ninja400 riders have been to the fore all through the 2021 season in a class designed for young riders to compete at World Championship level and gain experience to take forward to the future. WorldSSP300 racing is very evenly matched in terms of machinery and regulations, which makes the action particularly close and competitive at every round.
Kawasaki riders have won ten of the 12 races so far this year, with Buis’ Race One victory here seeing Kawasaki reach double digits, with two complete rounds and four individual races to go.
Spanish rider Inigo Iglesias (SMW Racing Kawasaki) won the Superpole qualifying contest that decides final grid positions for Race One, and led the 44 riders away from the line on Saturday 18 September.
Another incredibly complex and thrilling race in the WorldSSP300 season saw Kawasaki riders fighting on several fronts with their fellow Ninja 400 riders and several Yamaha competitors, but it was 2020 champion Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) who secured the race win despite all the pressure from behind.
In a typical WorldSSP300 festival of drama and close quarters action the top seven riders finished within 0.842 seconds of each other and the last points scorer in 15th place was only 2.332 seconds from the race win itself.
It was finally a luckless Catalunya race weekend for front row qualifier Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) who was taken out of the first race at the end of the main straight. He suffered a fracture of the base of his first right metacarpal bone and a shoulder injury, ruling him out of the rest of the Barcelona weekend. He hopes to be back in action for the next round at Jerez.
Pole-sitter Iglesias was sixth in Race One, Huertas seventh and Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) eighth. Seven of the top 13 riders home were on Kawasaki machines.
In the second race of the Catalunya weekend Buis was set to compete for the win once again and led the first two laps. Such is the nature of WorldSSP300 racing, however, that although Jeffrey finished just 1.100 seconds from the win he was ‘only’ seventh in the final results.
The top Kawasaki rider in the Sunday race was Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki) who made up for this Race One fall with a strong third place, despite the ill-effects of a painful hand injury.
In a race finally dogged by penalties for some of the top riders Huertas finished one place off the podium in fourth but doubled his points lead after Booth-Amos missed both races through injury. Okaya was a strong fifth and Buis seventh.
Alejandro Carrion (Kawasaki GP Project) was ninth and Iglesias tenth, with Daniel Mogeda (Team109 Kawasaki) 11th. Koen Meuffels (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) was 13th in Race One but out of the points in 18th place in Race Two.
The 2018 World Champion, Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec WorldSSP300) was one of four riders in a Turn Five crash In Race One, and went on to finish 29th in Race Two, yet still only 17 seconds behind the winner.
With the Manufacturers’ Championship wrapped up for Kawasaki the Riders’ Championship is still to be decided, but Huertas is now an enhanced 43 points ahead of double non-starter Booth-Amos - 201 points to 158.
Buis is third with 136 points, Di Sora fourth on 113 and Okaya fifth with 87.
The next round will take place at the opposite end of Spain to the Barcelona - Catalunya round, at the classic Jerez circuit on the extreme South West coast, between 24-26 September.
Adrian Huertas (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “I started the weekend with a heavy crash in FP1, after I wasn’t able to avoid another rider's bike. In practice the feeling was not so good, but we found something in the races. In the first race I finished seventh, after seeing that my biggest contender had crashed out. In the second race I also fought at the front and eventually finished fourth. I scored important points for the championship. I want to wish Tom (Booth-Amos) a good recovery, because I want to win on the track and not like this. I hope he has a speedy recovery!”
Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki), stated: “I really like Catalunya, it is one of my favourite tracks of the year and I was happy to be on the front row, as last year I was on pole position. I got taken out again in a race and I have broken my hand and shoulder. Surgery on Monday and we will try to be back in Jerez.”
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “We had the pace from the first session. The plan in the first race was to stay in front as much as possible. That worked out well. I managed to take a small lead in the closing stages and that was enough for victory. Very happy with the win and my performance in this race. I was also at the front in the second race and was able to hold a position for a long time. In the penultimate lap, I was swallowed up on the straight because many riders passed me from the slipstream. I ended up in the middle of the group and then it is difficult to come back to the front. Overall it was a very good weekend. Thanks to the MTM Kawasaki team!”
Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki), stated: “Even after yesterday’s race and being taken out by another rider, to be on the podium today is wonderful. We knew we were strong here at Barcelona and we were hoping for a good result, so this is a good way to end a strange weekend, shall we call it? I am not 100% with my injured hand but I did all I could to win today. These guys were very fast but I felt the strongest out there.”
Ana Carrasco (Provec Kawasaki Racing), stated: “I had a good beginning to the Sunday race. I was able to get off to a good start that allowed me to gain many positions and place myself into the lead group. Then on lap four, another rider hit me at Turn Two and I went out onto the gravel. I was able to save the fall but I was left without any possibility of fighting for a good result. Afterwards I was able to get back on the track and finish the race, ride at a fast pace, even faster than the lead group, and the bike worked very well. I have to thank the team because today I had a bike to fight for a good result. We are doing a good job but luck is not on our side. It has been a hard weekend because of the falls too, so I will try to recover this week and return to Jerez with my batteries recharged. I also want to thank all the sponsors and fans who came to the Circuit to support us this weekend.”
Koen Meuffels (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “I was satisfied with the first day in practice, but it was a difficult first race in a big leading group. I had to start from P19. I felt I had the pace, but I couldn't get through the group. That is why I stayed just outside the top-ten. I had hoped for something more. I lost a lot of positions in the beginning of the second race. There was a gap to the leading group, which was very unfortunate. I had some good fights, but for the wrong positions. Next stop; Jerez!”
Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), stated: “The feeling in Superpole wasn’t bad, but I didn’t work out how to set one fast lap time. I had to start from P21. During the race I had to run wide a couple of times, because of the hectic action in the group. In the closing stages, I managed to get to the front of the group. On the last lap, my plan didn’t work and I finished eighth. It was a good second race, almost perfect, only in the last lap in turn 10 I lost some places. With a fifth place we ended the weekend on a positive note.”
Steve Guttridge, Kawasaki Europe Racing Manager, stated: “This season's WorldSSP300 title race has again been nothing short of exhilarating! The racing is fantastic and the teams and riders should all be proud of their commitment and often sheer bravery to reach their end targets. The podium is a realistic goal for many of the young talented racers on the grid and so Dorna and the FIM should also be proud to have created this platform, having masterminded the category a few seasons ago. It's great for the learning curves of young riders, the Championship and the fans watching these future heroes on TV and online around the world. Kawasaki is naturally very proud to have claimed another Manufacturers' award in this rapidly emerging category and the capabilities of our Ninja 400.”