After Friday’s free practice, Fenton Seabright (Kawasaki GP Project) was the best Kawasaki qualifier in Superpole on Saturday morning, taking second place on the grid, one place up on Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing Kawasaki). Perez Gonzalez had crashed after setting his best lap, and had to sprint back to take part, breathlessly, in the Superpole press conferences and TV interviews.
Superpole ‘winner’ Humberto Maier (Yamaha) eventually had to start from the back of the grid for irresponsible riding, promoting Fenton Seabright to the best possible grid position at the head of 32 riders.
Saturday was a to be a momentous day for one rider, as 2020 champion for MTM Kawasaki, Jeffrey Buis, secured his first win since he came back into the WorldSSP300 category this year. In doing so he became the leading all-time race winner in this astonishingly competitive class of racing.
Under brilliant sunshine and with the prospect of close racing about to unfold at the modern classic 4.657km long Montmelo circuit the ranks of Kawasaki riders were fully involved in the action from the start.
At the green light there was a clear ambition from Buis to hit the front and stay there, as he led for the first four laps. Such was the pressure from behind, from a gigantic leading group of restless riders, that he was dragged back into the mix and then decided to wait for the perfect chance to go to the front for the final time.
He used his good track position on the final lap to hit the front at just the right moment and win from a fellow seasoned WorldSSP competitor on a Kawasaki, Samuel Di Sora (Prodina Kawasaki Racing). The margin of victory was only 0.052 seconds.
As well as the trophy and points for second place, Di Sora also won the Pirelli best lap award for setting the fastest lap of the race, a1’55.236. He would repeat that fastest lap trick in a more challenging Race Two, albeit at a marginally slower pace.
Mirko Gennai (Yamaha) was placed third in the Saturday opener, while the championship leader after his Assen double win, Petr Svoboda (Füsport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) was fourth.
Daniel Mogeda (Kawasaki GP Project Kawasaki) was classified seventh and front row starter Perez Gonzalez was ninth. The first nine riders home were covered by less than one second.
After the dust had settled on the race itself, the history books showed that Buis’ success delivered a 50th WorldSSP300 race win milestone for Kawasaki. Jeffrey’s own eighth career race win is a new all time record in WorldSSP300.
A multiple-rider fall at Turn Ten on lap 11 of 12 reduced the number of finishers in the leading group significantly, and ended the races of Kawasaki riders Seabright, Kevin Sabatucci (Team Flembbo-PI Performance Kawasaki), Loris Veneman (MTM Kawasaki) and Alessandro Zanca (Team109 Kawasaki).
In Race Two, again held over 12 laps, Buis would appear on the podium once more, in third place this time. Yamaha riders Mirko Gennai and Matteo Vannucci finished 1-2, but Jeffrey was only 0.183 seconds behind the winner.
The race itself was chaotic for some riders, with Di Sora taking two long lap penalties, then crashing, and ending up four laps down at the flag.
The final front running group was a loose collection of literally 20 riders, separated by just less than three seconds. Buis used his skills and years of experience, despite still being only 21 years of age, to keep hold of third place across the line after another breathtakingly close race.
Daniel Mogeda (Kawasaki GP Project) was classified fourth when the chequered flag dropped to end another spectacularly close contest, but he would be penalised to drop one place for irresponsible riding, promoting Perez Gonzalez to fourth place, not the fifth place he crossed the line in.
Jose Manuel Osuna Saez (Deza-Box 77 Racing Team Kawasaki) was ninth and Assen double race winner Petr Svoboda (Fusport-RT Motorsport by SKM Kawasaki) was the last rider to make it into the top ten places in Race Two. Half the top ten finishers were riding Kawasaki Ninja 400s.
In the championship points, after four races and two rounds, Svoboda still leads but now has 69 points, Gennai is second with 57, Di Sora is third with 50 points (despite his Race Two no-score) and Buis’s first and third places put him fourth overall, with 49 points. Perez Gonzalez is sixth, on 43 points.
In the Manufacturers’ Championship, Kawasaki leads Yamaha by 91 points to 72.
The next round will be held at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, between 2-4 June.
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “It feels great to be back on that top step. At the beginning my plan was to push at the front but it was so difficult to try and make a gap back to the others. I needed to change my strategy but it worked out pretty well an on the last lap I had a good position on the track. It was a great feeling and thanks to all the people who still believed in me after a difficult season last year. I was very happy with my Race Two podium as well. We have tested here so it is good to have some experience on the track.”
Samuel Di Sora (Prodina Kawasaki), stated: “Again second and I was managing the first race as best as I possibly could. It was a very hard and aggressive race. I think Jeffrey and I had the same strategy to so stay in the pack, because going away was impossible. At the beginning I thought he may go away but I managed to catch him up, with Vannucci. I am pretty happy with second place and also happy to be here at this fantastic track. I’m disappointed about Race Two because we started really well and were very competitive, having set the fastest lap again today. We had the potential to replicate yesterday’s result, if not more.”
Fenton Seabright (Kawasaki GP Project), stated: “Superpole had a bit of a crazy start with the red flag, but we learned our lesson and from the first lap we had to push. We only got in one fast lap but in qualification that’s all the counts - it is a one lap competition in Superpole.”