2018 World Supersport champion looking forward to celebrating after unbelievable final battle
Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) stepped into the WorldSBK paddock for the first time just a handful of weeks before the FIM Supersport World Championship kicked off at Phillip Island. Nine months later, the German rider holds his head up high as the new world champion, taking up the baton from Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team).
The French rider won the final race at Losail International Circuit but at the end of the day that mattered little to Cortese, whose main goal going into Saturday’s race was to finish above another Frenchman, Jules Cluzel (NRT). It was a winner-takes-all race for the pair, and in a year in which they have fought back and forth several times this was perhaps their best battle yet. Nothing was settled until Cluzel crashed during the final lap, leaving Cortese to breathe at last and enjoy the final turns of the season.
The 28-year-old could barely contain his jubilation after the race: “I’m so happy, it’s an incredible feeling. I’m so grateful to my team, they did an amazing job this year. They believed in me when I had nothing. I tried to give something back this year, together we grew up as a team and we did the maximum we could every race”.
With Cortese being one of the last riders to arrive to the championship this season, he hardly imagined that becoming world champion in his first year was a realistic possibility: “Even when I came to the championship at the beginning of the year, I didn’t know anything: if I’m fast, if I’m slow, in the midfield… After the test at Phillip Island I thought: “ok, maybe we can fight for podiums, maybe victories during the season”. I think what made me strong this year was the consistency, we only won two races but we spent the rest on the podium”.
The Kallio Racing rider also had some words of gratitude for the man who, with five race wins, managed to bring the fight right up to the final laps of the last race of 2018: “I also want to thank Jules for the hard fight this year, he was an absolutely hard rival and I think that at the end of the day we both deserved it”.
Relive the best moments of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship and start revving up for the new season with WorldSBK VideoPass.