Spanish rider Alvaro Diaz can mathematically wrap up the title on Sunday at the Catalunya Round, but the opposition are keen to spoil his homecoming
The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship heads to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Catalunya Round with a chance for the title to be wrapped up in what could be a pivotal round in the 2022 campaign. Alvaro Diaz (Arco Motor University Team) has a 40-point advantage heading into the Catalunya Round and, if the permutations are met, can be crowned Champion on Sunday. However, as we’re all too aware, motorcycle racing is never that easy…
FIRST MATCH POINT: how can Diaz seal the title?
With a 40-point lead heading into the round, Diaz will be crowned Champion if he leaves Barcelona with a 51-point or more lead in the standings; meaning he needs to outscore Marc Garcia (Yamaha MS Racing) by 11 points, Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki) by one point and not lose 16 points to Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo). Diaz raced in Barcelona as a wildcard in 2021, finishing fifth in Race 1 and second in Race 2, his first podium in the Championship and back then, the class’s closest finish with just 0.003s splitting him from race winner Bahattin Sofuoglu. He also heads into the Catalunya Round fresh from making WorldSSP300 history, with Diaz holding the record for most podiums in a season and longest podium streak in WorldSSP300’s history.
AIMING TO STOP DIAZ: three riders hoping to prevent Diaz’s coronation
Garcia sits second in the Championship as he looks to become the first double WorldSSP300 Champion, 40 points back from Diaz. Garcia has a mixed record at his home circuit with a podium in Race 1 in 2020 his best result; his other three are 20th, 18th and a retirement. Steeman, who won Race 2 at Magny-Cours after a double Long Lap Penalty, is yet to score a point in Barcelona having finished 25th in Race 2 in 2021 and retiring from Race 1 when riding on KTM machinery. Di Sora, in contrast, has two podium finishes at Catalunya with third in Race 2 in 2021 and second in WorldSSP300’s first race at the venue in 2020, the first of his career.
A BATTLE FOR FIFTH: four riders, eight points…
Fifth overall, Hugo de Cancellis (Prodina Racing WorldSSP300) leads a quartet of riders hunting for fifth in the Championship. With 107 points to his name, the French rider has raced in Barcelona in WorldSSP300 twice with a best finish of seventh place in 2020. The sole KTM rider in the field, Lennox Lehmann (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing), is sixth and trails De Cancellis by two points. Racing in Barcelona in 2021, Lehmann finished 17th in Race 1 and 21st in Race 2 and will be looking to improve on that in 2022. Four points back from Lehmann is Japanese rider Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki), the only rider on the 2022 grid to have won in Barcelona, is seventh in the standings; his first win back in 2020 was Japan’s first in WorldSSP300 too. Can he repeat his success from 2020 this season? After a crash at Magny-Cours, Okaya needs to pass medical checks before track action.
WILDCARDS AND REPLACEMENT RIDERS: latest news from WorldSSP300
Dirk Geiger (Fusport – RT Motorsports by SKM – Kawasaki) will be replaced by Hungarian rider Mate Szamado for the Catalunya Round, with Szamado becoming the first Hungarian in WorldSSP300 to score points with 14th last time out at Magny-Cours, whilst Indy Offer’s (Team BrCorse) replacement is yet to be confirmed. Offer was injured in a crash at the Autodrom Most and, with doctor’s advice, will miss the rest of 2022. Marco Gaggi (Vinales Racing Team) will need to undergo medical checks before the round after he was declared unfit during the French Round.
In terms of wildcards, two riders will make their WorldSSP300 debut at the circuit. Unai Calatayud (Arco Motor University Team) and Julio Garcia Gonzalez (ESP Solutions Motap Racing Team), both Spanish riders, will make their Championship debut on home soil at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Last year, the Arco Motor University Team was the team behind Alvaro Diaz’s successful return to WorldSSP300, so don’t be surprised to see Calatayud fight his way into the mix.
Can Diaz wrap up the title in Barcelona? Find out with the WorldSBK VideoPass!