Dutch rider wins in the face of adversity
With the European MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season coming to a close, there were plenty of titles to be wrapped up around Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours and for Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer), it was a very important weekend. Securing a top 17 finish was enough for the Dutch rider to be crowned 2018 European Supersport Cup winner.
It has been a season of ups and downs for the 26 year old, who was running in his own team throughout the eight rounds of the 2018 season. Pitching himself against the world championship riders, it was a strong ask for the Dutch rider but one he took in his stride. Heading to MotorLand Aragon for the opening round of the season, Hartog began his season in sensational style with a top ten finish and proved himself and his Kawasaki ZX-6R weren’t there to make the numbers up. Fighting through the pack, he was already safely in the running for the title. Heading straight home to TT Circuit Assen for the second race of the season, he had some strong home backing which pushed him into a top eight finish.
With 14 points opposed to his main rival Eemeli Lahti (Sterkman Motorsport by HRP)’s four points, Hartog went to Imola on a high and was prepared to not only fight for points in the ESS, but also for top tens in WorldSSP. The historical Italian circuit welcomed an 11th position for Hartog, crossing the line in the front of a strong group of three riders battling it out.
But he was hit by misfortune in Great Britain, taking his first non-points scoring finish of the season. Qualifying as fastest ESS rider on Saturday, he crashed out through turn four in the closing laps of the race. However, he still had a hold on the lead as the series headed to Brno.
Back to his best in the Czech Republic, Hartog and his Dutch team took another 11th position in the humid conditions as the track became difficult to ride around, although he was beaten to the top of the ESS standings by Lahti. After a four week break for the WorldSSP riders, Misano welcomed the summer sunshine and a top 13 finish for Hartog as he continued on his battle for the title.
Heading back to the track after the summer break, Portimao threw up new hights of drama for the Dutchman. Running in 13th position, he had a coming together with one event rider Borja Quero Martinez (EMPERADOR Racing Team) at turn 11. Involved in a dramatic crash, he headed into Parc Ferme as the top ESS rider but it was later decided he was disqualified for dangerous riding.
Putting the pressure on for the final race of the season in France, Hartog was favourite for the crown but nothing is ever certain in racing. Keeping a cool head, he secured a top 17 finish which was enough to be crowned champion in 2018. Understandably thrilled with his title win in 2018, he faced some tough battles but the Dutchman was able to show that hard work pays off.
“This I what we have looked for all year,” explains Hartog. “To go home with the Cup is fantastic. We wanted to have a better race but it was quite difficult, we had a strong pace at the start of the weekend but that didn’t work out. I had a better start but it was not good enough, but in the end I was thinking about the championship which I didn’t expect. It’s not the way we wanted to finish the season, but in the end we got the cup and the championship but it’s what all about!”
Enjoy the highlights from Hartog’s season and the ESS battles, all with the WorldSBK VideoPass.