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Race Winners Huertas And Booth-Amos Boost Their Title Hopes
The two leading riders in the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship standings gave their individual championship hopes a positive bonus with a race win apiece at the third round of the series at Assen.
In this closely contested series, designed for younger riders to show their skills and race craft at a relatively early age, Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) and Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) each scored a thrilling race win on their Ninja 400s, playing their part in another blisteringly successful weekend for riders in green.
Huertas extended his championship lead after two endlessly exciting and dramatic Assen contests, finishing first in Race One and then fifth in Race Two. He was made to drop positions in the second race after exceeding the track limits on the final lap - straying onto the green painted sections that mark the out-of-bounds areas of the racetrack. He was relegated to fifth at the end.
Booth-Amos was a contender in Race One on Saturday 24 July but he fell on the final lap, a piece of misfortune that made his dramatic last corner race win on Sunday all the sweeter.
Joining Huertas and Booth-Amos on the podiums were Koen Meuffels (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) and 2020 champion Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) in Race One and then the French duo of Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Team Kawasaki) and Samuel De Sora (Leader Team Flembbo) in Race Two.
In the Superpole qualifying session on Saturday 24 July the highest placed Kawasaki rider was Buis, in second place, with Huertas third.
In the two 14-lap WorldSSP300 races, both held in dry conditions, the final laps were astonishing in the closeness of the action and the all-too-thrilling anti-climax for some top riders.
Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec) was a race winner the recent Misano round but in Race One at Assen she fell on the final lap, as did Booth-Amos. Ana would finish 15th in Race Two, having been in contention as high as the top five. She crossed the line 14th but was given a penalty that put her into 15th place.
Both Huertas and Buis (the latter having led half the laps) were penalized for exceeding the track limits on the final lap of Race Two and were dropped from their podium finishing results - by two places each - as a result. Buis was classified fourth, Huertas fifth.
Ninja 400 riders not only monopolised the podiums in each race, but in Race Two the first six riders home were on Kawasakis. in Race One it was the first four who rode on Ninja 400s, with Di Sora promoted to fourth behind Huertas, Meuffels and Buis when another rider was demoted for exceeding track limits.
Dorren Loureiro (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) was seventh in Race One, but still only 1.480 seconds behind the race winner.
The even closer run battle in Race Two saw the top nine riders finish within 0.862 seconds of each other as Assen’s reputation as a great slipstreaming circuit was upheld. Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), another Race One faller on Saturday, redeemed his weekend with a fighting sixth place on Sunday, at his team’s home circuit. He remains fourth overall in the championship.
Meuffels, also ‘pinged’ with a track limits penalty in Race Two, had been hit by another rider and dropped places, setting the fastest lap on his way back into top ten contention. He was ninth and the last Kawasaki rider inside the top ten places on Sunday. The action was so close from so many potential winners at the end of Race Two that it was inevitable that some riders would be penalised for exceeding track limits.
So many riders with the same front-running pace were trying to fit into too small a racing surface. Such is the cavalier action in this newest and often most exciting of World Championship classes.
With Huertas in particular enjoying his Assen weekend in terms of not just one strong result but consistency of points scoring, he now takes an 18 point lead away from Assen. In second place overall Booth-Amos clawed back important points in the ultimate championship fight in Race Two.
Samuel De Sora is third, Okaya fourth, Buis fifth, De Cancellis sixth, Meuffels seventh and Carrasco eighth. All the top eight riders in the championship are on Kawasaki machines, and every race this year has been won by a Kawasaki rider.
In the actual points tally Huertas has 108, Booth-Amos 90, Di Sora 64, Okaya 52, Buis 52, De Cancellis 49, Meuffels 44 and Carrasco 43. With five rounds and ten scheduled races to complete this season, the door is still wide open for any of the riders who have been pushing themselves forward - in all senses - in what has been a thrilling season so far.
The next round of the championship will be at a venue few if any of the WorldSSP300 riders will have raced at, Most in the Czech Republic. The fourth round will take place between 6-8 August 2021.
Adrian Huertas (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “I was very happy with my third win of the season. From the first practice session our pace was already good and this resulted in a third place in Superpole. Thanks to my team, because the bike was great. Unfortunately I finished just outside the podium in the second race due to a penalty. But the most important thing is that we scored good points for the championship and strengthened our leading position.”
Ana Carrasco (Provec Kawasaki Racing), stated: “The fall in Race One was a shame because I was very strong today. I made a good start and I was riding quite comfortably in the lead group. Physically I feel good, but I'm sorry I didn't get a good result. Race Two was good, difficult as always with the madness of racing in this category, but I am very happy with the performance. After yesterday's fall I think that today we faced the race well, we fought all the laps in the leading group and I felt good. In the end I came off the track and touched another rider and I lost a lot of positions. I honestly believe that the results of this weekend do not reflect the good work that the whole team has done over the weekend, but we must be positive and continue working for the next one. Most is next, and it is a new circuit for everyone, so we will try to take another step and return to the podium.”
Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki), stated: “Another crazy race on Sunday, just like very race here in WorldSSP300! It is always difficult to get the right moment to overtake and take the lead for the final run to the finish line so I think I did a good job today. It is a shame that I crashed in Race One. My own mistake really, but we learned from that and came back today for the win and got some more points back for the championship.”
Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Team Kawasaki), stated: “I am very happy about Race Two because yesterday I crashed on the last lap while in fourth position. I can be happy to be on the podium today and I want to thank all my team, family and sponsors. It was very hard on the last lap and a bit crazy like all the races in this class. I feel good with the bike and the team are very professional so our work paid off. I am also happy for Samuel De Sora, two Frenchies on the podium is good for the French fans! Our target it to be on the final podium of the championship. We have to be more regular in our results and then we can see where we are in the championship.”
Samuel Di Sora, (Leader Team Flembbo), stated: “It was crazy today, as always, but I am happy with the result. In Race One we were fourth and we have managed to find a way to third place in the championship. Today was a good opportunity to reaffirm that position. Our pace was there and we had the possibility to have our first win - but it is always very difficult to place yourself in the right area in this crazy category. I am happy with a podium today and want to do at least as good as we did here in Most next time out. There are ten races left so in the championship anything is possible and we are not that far behind, less than two races in term so points. We can get there, we have the capacity to fight for the championship and we will work for that for sure.”
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “I had a good speed from the first practice session. I was able to set consistently good lap times and with the second time in Superpole, we had a good starting position for the races. It turned out to be a great race in front of my home crowd. I was in the lead a lot in both races. I was very happy with my first podium of the season, but I could have done more. In the second race I did everything I could to win, but I got pushed a few times on the green in the last lap. I was penalised for this and therefore unfortunately no second podium of the weekend. I’m happy with my races, but certainly not with the result in the second race.”
Koen Meuffels (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “I'm super happy with second place in the first race and to be on the podium in my home race. It was a very exciting race and that was to be expected on this track. I had to run wide a few times, but I managed to fight back every time. I was in the lead quite a bit as well. In the second race, after a few laps I was hit hard by another rider, which caused me to fall back a lot. After that I had a good pace and set the fastest race lap. I came back to the front just too late to compete for the podium. Not the position we were aiming for, but the pace is very positive and we will take that to the next races in Most.”
Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), stated: “The bike felt very good here at Assen. I had to start from the back of the grid in the first race after a technical problem. I was very fast and managed to come to the front again. I was hoping to go for the win when a rider in front of me had a moment. I hit him and crashed. In the second race it was very difficult to pass other riders. I couldn’t show my potential from the first race. Sixth place isn’t so bad, but I was fighting for more.”