Midseason crossroads at Donington

Tuesday, 22 May 2018 10:22 GMT

WorldSSP300 riders traverse the Channel for Race 4

Three races, three winners, eight different riders on the podium… The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship season has been thrilling thus far, with little separating any of the top riders. The calendar reaches its equator at Donington Park Circuit, and there’s small room for error: it could be now or never to mount a championship challenge. With several world-class riders suddenly with their backs against the wall, expect a heart-stopping race at the UK temple.

Success in WorldSSP300 is all about finding the right moment to strike, and Ana Carrasco (DS Junior Team) has proven to be an expert at doing just that. The Spaniard was astonishingly dominant at Imola, taking the Superpole by nearly a second and following it up with her first win of 2018, bringing the championship lead home with her. Judging by her consistency so far – she’s the only rider with all top-6 finishes this year, and has started every race no lower than fourth – Carrasco is the rider to beat.

Rookie rider Luca Grunwald (Freudenberg KTM WorldSSP Team) couldn’t repeat his Assen win in Italy, but by finishing fourth the German remains second and just 3 points behind Carrasco. Grunwald has quietly shown his strengths on the KTM, and could well steal another last-lap win at Donington.

Another racer whose low-key consistency has kept him in a prime position to fight for the championship is Glenn van Straalen (KTM Fortron Racing Team). One of only three riders with nothing but top-10 finishes so far, van Straalen may not have led many laps, but he’s always close to the top – a good reminder that the championship is a marathon, not a sprint.

Scott Deroue (Motoport Kawasaki) was on course for a third consecutive podium finish at Imola, before an untimely mistake on the final lap left him down and out, losing his front end at Acque Minerali. Bad luck for the Dutchman, who will be looking to bounce back at Donington, a track where he finished third last year.

2017 Donington winner Mika Pérez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) climbed fifteen places at Imola to scratch back eight points from an eighth-row start. It was a difficult weekend for Pérez, who had managed both previous Superpoles this season, but his performance was encouraging. A repeat UK win would shoot the Spaniard right back into the title tussle.

Koen Meuffels (KTM Fortron Junior Team) crashed for the second consecutive race at Imola, a huge disappointment for the Aragon race-winner, who had managed to slot himself into the front group. Meuffels has never quite left the front of the pack this season, yet has just those 25 points to show for it. The Dutchman will be desperate to score at Donington and reinvigorate his championship challenge.

One of the highlights from Imola was the improvement seen from the Yamaha riders all throughout the weekend, with Galang Hendra Pratama (BIBLION YAMAHA MOTOXRACING), Manuel González (Pertamina Almeria BCD Junior Team by MS) and Maria Herrera (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), who took the fastest lap, all fighting for podium places throughout the race. At Donington, it would not be surprising to see more Yamaha YZF-R3s in the mix.

The WorldSSP300 championship is back this weekend, live from Donington Park. Catch all the action thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.