WorldSBK.com takes a look back over the inaugural start to the season
35 riders lined up on the grid at MotorLand Aragon for the debut FIM Supersport 300 World Championship race, and no one knew what to expect. Heading into the unknown, fans and riders have been treated to five rounds of thrilling racing action from the first time the lights went out. Favourites for the race wins soon developed, and rivalries began to take shape as the youngsters begin on their journey in world championship racing. Heading into the summer break Scott Deroue (MTM HS Kawasaki) leads the standings by three points, and with 18 points covering the top four it’s all to play for in the second half of 2017.
Dutchman Deroue took his Kawasaki Ninja 300 straight to the top of the world championship standings as the 21 year old secured the two opening victories of the season – his second one in front of his home fans at the legendary TT Circuit Assen. However despite his initial dominance Deroue has struggled to keep up his momentum, slipping through the order in recent rounds. But he has managed to cling onto his championship lead heading into the summer break, with three podium appearances and two top 12 points scoring finishes so far.
Locked not only in the intense WorldSSP300 championship battle for the title, Alfonso Coppola (SK Racing) also has the Yamaha bLU cRU fight to contend with. Taking a few rounds to adjust to the competitive series, once the young Italian found his feet he has been a force to be reckoned with on his YZR-R3. Securing a podium finish in the Acerbis Dutch Round, Coppola took his first victory two rounds later at Donington Park before he was disqualified following an engine dispute. Fighting for the podium finish in his second home race at Misano, Coppola was able to take third position, and now sits just 18 points off the top of the championship.
Meanwhile the Yamaha bLU cRU battle rages on, as the six Yamaha riders are pushing to end the season as top Yamaha rider, which means they will be offered a chance to ride for an Official Yamaha Supported team in a higher class in 2018. With a lot to fight for, Coppola is the man in the driving seat, ahead of Robert Schotman (GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team), Mykyta Kalinin (Team MOTOXRACING), Kimi Patova (Kallio Racing), Enzo De La Vega (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) and Renzo Ferreira (Kallio Racing).
Mika Perez (WILSport Racedays) is flying the flag for Honda, as he is just one of three riders using the CBR500R and is now sitting just three points behind Deroue in the championship. Finishing on the podium in the opening round of the season at Aragon, he had a dip in his results before converting pole position to a podium around Donington Park – but he was promoted to the race winner following the disqualification of Coppola. Cementing his stature in the world championship fight with a dominating weekend at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Perez will be heading into the second half of the season with a big challenge ahead.
Halcourier Racing are a team to have impressed at the beginning of the season, with the trio of Borja Sanchez, Daniel Valle and Marc Garcia at the helm of the Yamaha YZF R3’s. Failing to secure a podium in just two of the five rounds of the season so far, the youngsters have shown they have fight and confidence in their machines. One Event rider Marc Garcia (Halcourier Racing) took the debut win for the team in a dramatic Imola race, and the team are showing no signs of slowing down.
On top of the stunning winners so far in WorldSSP300, the class has also welcomed some surprised podium finishers. Hunting down home heroics were Glenn van Staalen (Vos - TKR Racing), who sensationally secured second position at the Acerbis Dutch Round, and Armando Pontone (IODARacing) took second at the line in Rimini.
All victories so far in WorldSSP300 have been taken by less than 0.177s - Garcia’s victory around Imola - and the closest was won by Perez at Misano last time out. Producing edge of your seat racing and offering a stunning opportunity for youngsters on the world stage, the first half of the WorldSSP300 has been stunning. Action resumes in Germany from 18th – 20th August, at the Lausitzring Circuit.