"So important… good for the Championship" – Huertas reflects on maiden WorldSSP podium

Thursday, 29 February 2024 06:34 GMT

Spanish rider Adrian Huertas took a first pole and podium as he started his new adventure with the Panigale V2

Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) made his Ducati debut in the FIM Supersport World Championship with mixed fortunes. A maiden pole position and a podium in Race 2 were the highlights for the Spaniard at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, while an issue before lights out in Race 1 took him out of contention. It was a strong start for the #99 following his switch from Kawasaki machinery to the Panigale V2, even if results across the whole weekend didn’t reflect his pace.

Huertas had been competitive through the off-season, and during the Official Test, as he adapted from the Kawasaki ZX-6R to the Panigale V2. In the sole Free Practice session on Friday morning, the Spaniard was three tenths off Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) out in front, before finding a huge amount of time in the Tissot Superpole session. His 1’31.407s – a new lap record – secured him a maiden pole position for Race 1.

However, a technical issue just before lights out meant his bike was taken off the grid and the Spaniard was unable to take part in the race. With the Race 2 grid for the first three rows based on the fastest laps set in Race 1, the Madrid-born rider started tenth for Sunday’s race. He was able to charge through the field to finish third, his first WorldSSP podium, finishing just 1.658s away from Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) who took both victories Down Under.

Discussing his Race 2 rostrum, Huertas said: “It was a really difficult weekend although we were really strong at this track. Starting from tenth was quite difficult because I needed to push too much at the beginning. I struggled with the tyres a little bit, and just as the leaders pushed in the last laps, I couldn’t catch them. I am happy with the pace I’ve shown, the work I’ve done with the team, and we solved the problem from Race 1 on Saturday. I think we will keep getting better together and having good results.”

Huertas made his WorldSSP debut in 2022 after taking the 2021 WorldSSP300 title, racing with what was then the MTM Kawasaki outfit. He was close to the podium on several occasions, taking a best finish of fourth, but was just shy of the rostrum. However, in his first round with Ducati, the #99 was able to take his first podium and speaking after Race 2, Huertas explained how important it was for him to get the first one as he looks to mount a title challenge.

He said: “I think it’s so important, more for the team than me, because I wanted to show them that we are all a team, and we can do good things together. This is good for the Championship overall, not just the points because we lost some points this weekend, but for our future and our relationship together.”

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