Kawasaki Puccetti Racing WorldSSP rider Hikari Okubo scored his best result to date with a fourth place finish after 17 laps of a sometimes bizarre race at Imola. His team-mate Lucas Mahias was looking for a podium finish until the rider in front of him missed a gear exiting a chicane. Lucas collided with his rival's bike before falling but he restarted to score eighth place.With rain clouds threatening overhead the WorldSSP riders set off in a race that would prove to be full of drama and excitement, with crashes, rain flags and finally a red flag all appearing as fortunes rose and fell. It was basically dry throughout, despite some very light showers appearing at times.
Hikari, who had qualified fifth, went from a lowly 12th on lap one to a final fourth place by a combination of determined riding and the misfortunes of others. His career-best fourth place saw him only 3.643 seconds behind the winner at his team's home round.
After an epically determined push from 2017 World Champion Mahias in the early laps he was closing in on third place rider Jules Cluzel when suddenly the latter slowed coming out of the Variante Basso corner. Mahias could not avoid him and Lucas fell after hitting the tail section of his rival's machine, restarting in 11th place.
A final position of eighth was no real reward for Mahias' riding performance but he did score valuable points.
In the championship itself Okubo has moved up from fifth to fourth place with his new points total of 50, while Mahias is seventh on 40 points.
Okubo and Mahias will next compete at the Circuito de Jerez Angel Nieto, between 7 and 9 June, in the sixth round of the championship.
Hikari Okubo, stated: "I am so happy because I got my best result so far but if I got one more place I would have got a podium. There was a big mistake in the first lap of the race and I made a big drop, but I never gave up. That is the Japanese spirit. Sep-by-step I pushed so hard every lap and I could get to fourth position. Now I need to do one more step and next race I will try for the podium."
Lucas Mahias stated: "My race was shaping up not so bad but finally the result is again not my real position. I think if I did not have this problem in the chicane I would finish on the podium. This was my target. I am really angry because Cluzel missed a gear. OK, it was still a good step today to be close to the podium positions before the problem, because race after race the bike set-up is getting better."
Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) was fifth at his home round, making this his best race of 2019 so far. Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki) still leads the championship-within-a-championship FIM Europe Supersport Cup, scoring more points today for his 13th place finish. He is now 16th in the overall WorldSSP championship classification.
Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer Kawasaki) just missed a point today for 16th place, with Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) 19th. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team Kawasaki) retired at Imola and is now 17th overall.