Kove entered the paddock this season with the 312RR machine in WorldSSP300, becoming the first Chinese manufacturer in the Championship
The 2023 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship made headlines with the debut of a new manufacturer in the Championship, bringing the total currently competing to four and five since the Championship’s inception. Kove became the first Chinese manufacturer to enter WorldSSP300 with their 312RR machine and Kove CEO, Zhang Xue, has given an interview to explain why the manufacturer entered WorldSSP300, where his passion for motorsport came from and technical details about the bike.
Kove, running with the China Racing Team, have used two Chinese riders this season with Shengjunjie Zhou competing at Assen and Catalunya while Junhao Zhan took over the bike at Misano. Neither rider has scored a point so far after making their WorldSSP300 debut this season with Zhou taking a best result of 22nd for the team. However, the team have also competed in the Spanish Superbike championship and enlisted the services of Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez, a WorldSSP300 regular, who scored two wins with Kove. Xue, a former motocross rider, also helped Kove to enter the Dakar with the Dakar Rally Team in 2023.
The story for Kove begins a long time before joining WorldSSP300 though as Xue explains: “I have loved motorcycles since I was a kid. From my first memories, I knew I loved motorcycles. There was once a time my mom took me to my grandma’s home. It was 1am and I saw the Dakar Rally on TV. I didn’t know that was Dakar but saw lots of bikes running on the sand. The bike was a very old KTM and I felt I loved it so much! From there, I kept loving it, never changed.”
The 2023 campaign is only three rounds in but Xue and the China Racing Team will be able to have a good idea of the team’s performance and where they can improve, both from an off-track and on-track perspective. Already making history by becoming the first Chinese manufacturer to race in the WorldSBK paddock, and with the first two Chinese riders, there will be lots of history for Kove to make during their time in the paddock.
Discussing the team performance, and making history, Xue said: “I think it’s my responsibility. I must do it. The team and the structure are pretty good. But for the rider, I think Chinese riders need to improve a lot. I hope they can learn more and improve quickly in the coming practices and races. I hope to have one more entry that would involve a foreign rider. In the Spanish championship, we already proved that the bike performance is good. The key point was when we prove our bike is okay then it’s possible for other riders to use our bike. If we don’t do that when we talk to a rider, they may think our bike is not ready so I could not have a good rider. The long-term goal is to win the highest category, which means WorldSBK.”
Xue also expanded on the best features of the 321RR machine, which is used in WorldSSP300, with the aim of scoring the bike’s and manufacturer’s first points in the Championship: “The torque of low rpm is stronger, and better brake performance. A single swingarm would be faster when changing tyre.”
Watch Kove’s progress throughout 2023 in WorldSSP300 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!