Okaya takes WorldSSP300 Race 1 victory with last-corner move on Championship leader Diaz

Saturday, 24 September 2022 11:34 GMT

The Japanese rider repeated his move from 2020 to take his second WorldSSP300 in his career, while Alvaro Diaz moved 60 points clear in the title fight

The drama was never far away in the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship with the race decided at the final corner on the final lap as Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki) repeated his race-winning move from 2020 in 2022. The Japanese rider overtook Championship leader Alvaro Diaz (Arco Motor University Team) at the final corner to take his second career victory, while Diaz extended his Championship lead to 60 points with the chance to claim the title in Race 2.

FINAL CORNER MOVE… AGAIN: déjà vu for Okaya

Okaya was running in the front group throughout the 12-lap race and found himself in second place heading into the right-hander of Turn 14 on Diaz to take the lead in an exact replica of his overtake in 2020 when he claimed his first race win. His wait between wins was two years and four days, the second-longest wait in WorldSSP300 history. Diaz’s second place meant he extended his Championship lead to 60 points as well as improving on records set in France: he now has seven consecutive podiums and 10 in a season, the first rider to have double-digit podiums in a single WorldSSP300 campaign. In third place was wildcard Julio Garcia Gonzalez (ESP Solutions Motap Racing Team) as he took his WorldSSP300 podium on his debut and became the second-youngest podium finisher in the Championship at 16 years, two months and 14 days; only behind Manuel Gonzalez (15 years, 11 months, four days).

FIGHTING THROUGH THE FIELD: taking home a top six

French rider Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing WorldSSP300) claimed fourth spot as he battled his way through the field, finishing just ahead of Humberto Maier (AD78 Team Brasil by MS Racing) in fifth; the Brazilian was involved in an incident at Turn 1 with Daniel Mogeda (Team#109 Kawasaki) while fighting in the lead group, with Mogeda retiring from the race following the crash and the incident placed under investigation by the FIM WorldSBK Stewards; no further action was taken by the stewards. Italian rider Gabriele Mastroluca (ProGP Racing) finished in sixth place after a strong race and fighting his way through the field.

BATTLING BACK: replacement rider impresses, Steeman fights back

Indonesian rider Aldi Satya Mahendra (Team BrCorse) took home seventh place on his WorldSSP300 debut as he continues to stand in for Indy Offer, with Mahendra only 0.002s away from Mastroluca in sixth place. Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki) started from pole position after a blistering lap time in the Tissot Superpole session but had to serve a double Long Lap Penalty for slow riding in FP2. He was able to battle his way back to the lead group but lost ground in the final lap to finishing in eighth place; Steeman is 62 points behind Diaz in the Championship battle. Bruno Ieraci (Prodina Racing WorldSSP300= claimed ninth spot despite a back of the grid start for slow riding in FP1, ahead of Mirko Gennai (Team BrCorse) who rounded out the top ten; Gennai had been fighting for the podium places throughout the race.

TAKING HOME POINTS: completing the top 15

Ruben Bijman (MTM Kawasaki) was another who had to fight back through the field, and he was able to claim 11th place, ahead of sole KTM rider Lennox Lehmann (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) in 12th; just 0.046s separated Bijman and Lehmann at the end of the race. Kevin Sabatucci (Kawasaki GP Project) took 13th place despite a Long Lap Penalty, finishing ahead of Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) who took 14th despite starting from 30th place and Alessandro Zanca (Kawasaki GP Project) in 15th with the Italian rider rounding out the points-paying positions.

JUST MISSING OUT: hoping for more in Race 2

Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha) finished in 16th place, around two seconds back from Zanca in the points, while he was around six tenths clear of Alex Millan (SMW Racing) in 17th; Millan had a Long Lap Penalty for slow riding in FP2 to serve in the race. Marc Garcia (Yamaha MS Racing) was 18th after dropping down the order in the second half of the race, emulating Race 2 from Magny-Cours, and he now stands 60 points behind Diaz in the Championship fight after Diaz scored 20 points with Garcia scoring none. Troy Alberto (Fusport-RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki) was 19th ahead of Sylvain Markarian (Leader Team Flembbo) in 20th.

HOUSEKEEPING: to note from Race 1

Wildcard Unai Catalayud (Arco Motor University Team) had a disrupted start to his race as he crashed at Turn 4, but the wildcard rider was able to re-join the race. Jose Luis Perez Gonzales (Accolade Smrz Racing) crashed out of the race at Turn 10 on Lap 8, with the Spanish rider in the large lead group despite a Long Lap Penalty for slow riding in FP2. Two riders went down on the final lap of the race with Inigo Iglesias (SMW Racing) crashing at Turn 12 and Harry Khouri (Fusport-RT Motorsports by SKM-Kawasaki) at Turn 13. Iglesias had to serve a Long Lap Penalty for irresponsible in FP2 but was able to fight back to the lead group, while Khouri was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash.

The top six following WorldSSP300 Race 1, full results here:

1. Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki)

2. Alvaro Diaz (Arco Motor University Team) +0.069s

3. Julio Garcia Gonzalez (ESP Solutions Motap Racing Team) +0.157s

4. Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina WorldSSP300 Team) +0.470s

5. Humberto Maier (AD78 Team Brasil by MS Racing) +0.514s

6. Gabriele Mastroluca (ProGP Racing) +0.549s

Fastest lap: Mirko Gennai (Yamaha) – 1’55.657s

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