PREVIEW: Aragon beckons for the WorldSSP300 field with the title race wide open

Wednesday, 20 September 2023 07:45 GMT

Jeffrey Buis can make history at the penultimate round of 2023 but has a long list of rivals looking to change the complexion of the title battle

The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship visits MotorLand Aragon for the Tissot Aragon Round and it is the penultimate round of the season for the category with 14 riders remaining in mathematical contention for the title. Although there are 13 riders who are fewer than 100 points behind leader Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki), there are seven within a round’s worth of points and two who are less than a race win away: Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing BGR) and Dirk Geiger (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing).

CLOSE TO HISTORY: will Buis be the first two-time WorldSSP300 Champion?

Buis does, mathematically, have the chance to be crowned Champion on Sunday at Aragon but it all depends on the results of Race 1 given the slender advantage he has (five points over Perez Gonzalez, 13 over Geiger) and the number of riders in contention. The 2020 Champion claimed the title race lead for the first time in 2023 last time out and Aragon is a great circuit for the #6. He has three wins here, all in 2020 when he won his first title. Can he achieve another double and put one hand on the Championship, or even wrap it up if results go his way?

Behind him, Perez Gonzalez is still looking for his first victory in WorldSSP300: consistency has been his key to 2023 with two podium finishes in 12 races but only two finishes outside the top six. A victory at this late stage will boost his confidence and drag him closer to his rival. Elsewhere, Geiger comes into Aragon off the back of a difficult French Round where he didn’t stand on the podium. His only win of the year was at Imola and Aragon hasn’t been an easy track for him. In two races last year on Kawasaki machinery, his best was 13th. However, KTM have three podiums at the Spanish venue including two from last year courtesy of Lennox Lehmann (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing).

THE SECOND GROUP: within 50 points of Buis

It’s a big gap to make up with just 100 points available but the riders in the ‘second’ group of the title fight will be optimistic heading to Spain. Petr Svoboda (Fusport – RT Motorsport by SKM – Kawasaki) is 28 points behind but has proven his race-winning credentials with a Dutch double to start the season. With only one further podium to his name, the Czech star will be looking for a return to the rostrum to kickstart his title challenge. Mirko Gennai’s (Team BrCorse) Race 2 podium at Magny-Cours gives him hope for the title but needs to outscore Buis considerably at Aragon, while Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha) and Humberto Maier (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team) need to bounce back from crashes to haul themselves back into contention. They are 41 and 44 points back, respectively.

A BIG GAP TO BRIDGE: less than 100 points behind with a lot of work to do…

Riders from eighth to 14th make up the ‘third’ and final group of riders in contention but these competitors have a mountain to climb to be crowned Champion. Samuel Di Sora (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) leads the group with 84 points and started the year with two podiums but has since found a top-five finish hard to come back. Kevin Sabatucci (Team Flembbo – PI Performances) is another 11 points back after his first podium of the year in France. Fenton Seabright (Kawasaki GP Project) and teammate Daniel Mogeda were protagonists at Magny-Cours and fought for the podium. Marco Gaggi (Team BrCorse) is 12th with Bruno Ieraci (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) 13th; he’s only completed the Italian rounds but his Misano double means he is mathematically in contention. Loris Veneman (MTM Kawasaki), fresh from his maiden podium, is the final rider in the title fight.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2022? Title fight took shape early…

Aragon was the first round of the 2022 campaign, and it set up the Championship battle early, with Marc Garcia (China Racing Team) – then on a Yamaha – and Alvaro Diaz, the eventual Champion, sharing the wins. Garcia returns to Aragon but this time on the Kove as he stands in for Junhao Zhan at the China Racing Team. Lehmann took his first two WorldSSP300 podiums last year despite a poor Superpole result: he was 25th and battled his way through the field in both Race 1 and Race 2.

CHANGES ON THE GRID: a shake-up to the line-up and wildcards

Garcia staying with Kove makes up one change but there are a few more on the grid. American Christopher Clark joins the Accolade Smrz Racing BGR team and becomes the second rider from the United States to race in WorldSSP300, after Dallas Daniels in Qatar in 2019. He’s raced with the Kawasaki Ninja 400 in MotoAmerica and finished the season 13th in the standings. In terms of wildcards, Unai Calatayud returns with the Arco Motor University Team and Antonio Torres Dominguez races with the Deza-Box 77 Racing Team. A replacement rider for Gabriele Mastroluca at the Arco Motor University Team is to be announced.

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