The official race report service of Kawasaki Racing Team.

10 April 2022

Kawasaki Riders Fight Hard For First Championship Points

The 2022 WorldSSP300 championship got underway at full pace from the very first practice sessions at the 5.077km long Motorland  Aragon Circuit in Spain. A much reduced field compared to previous years, due to new regulations, saw 30 riders push for the first two race wins of an exciting new season.

Many existing Kawasaki Ninja 400 talents have successfully used this championship - designed from the outset as a talent development series as well as a World Championship in its own right - to take their next steps at the end of the 2021 WorldSSP300 championship. Several top Kawasaki riders are remaining in the class, however, and many were in contention for podiums in Spain.

In Superpole qualifying, to determine the grid positions, Inigo Iglesias (SMW Racing Kawasaki) was the best Ninja 400 rider, in second place. He was sandwiched on the front row by two Yamaha riders, Marc Garcia and Alvaro Diaz.

The first race saw eventual winner Garcia and second place rider Diaz run clear of their rivals, leaving a mass of nine riders fighting for the final podium place in a 12-lap race, held in dry but relatively cool springtime conditions.

A thrilling last lap battle saw Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki) just miss out on the podium, by a mere 0.045 seconds, with is team-mate Yuta Okaya right on his heels in fifth place.

Inigo Iglesias (SMW Racing Kawasaki) was sixth, putting three Ninja 400 machines inside the top six places in the first 12-lap race of the weekend.

Bruno Ieraci (Prodina Racing Kawasaki) was tenth, as an integral part of the multi-rider group chasing the final podium place.

Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Racing Kawasaki) finished in 12th place and was the first rider to cross the finish line behind the massed fight for third position. Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki) was 14th with some technical issues holding him back. Kevin Sabatucci (Kawasaki GP Project) placed 15th, claiming the final championship points on offer.

Race Two, run as the final race of the whole WorldSBK weekend on Sunday 10 April, was another epic battle for podium glory. This time only one rider was away and clear up front, eventual winner Diaz.

Ieraci made himself top Ninja 400 rider in Race Two, in fourth place, and just 0.035 seconds from a podium finish in a thrilling scramble for the line between 12 riders.

Iglesias was fifth, returning 2021 rider Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki) seventh and Kevin Sabatucci (Kawasaki GP Project) ninth but the riders from second to 12th place were covered by just 1.1 seconds.

It was another thrilling fight between several riders that characterises this class, which is now in its sixth year of competition.

Petr Svoboda (Accolade Smrz Racing Kawasaki) was 11th in Race Two, De Cancellis placed 12th. Dirk Geiger (Füsport-RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) was 13th and the last Kawasaki rider to score points.

Steeman and Okaya were unlucky to collide and crash under braking while in strong positions in Race Two, with neither scoring any championship points in the second race.

In the points standings, with two races and one round of the eight round championship completed, Iglesias is fourth with 21 points, Ieraci is fifth on 19 and faller in Race Two Steeman is seventh, with 13 points. Okaya sits ninth with 11 points.

The next round will take place at Assen, in The Netherlands, between 22 and 24 April.

Victor Steeman (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “It was a positive weekend. Training and qualifying was good and I even took the lap time on my own. We are very strong. Unfortunately I lost the podium in Race One by 0.04 seconds, but fourth place was good for the championship. Race Two went great, I was able to stay in front very easily and am sure I could’ve made the podium and maybe even won. Unfortunately I was run off by another rider. Better luck next time.”

Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki ), stated: “During the first race I managed to get a good result but there is definitely room for improvement. I am disappointed with how the race went on Sunday. On to better results in Assen.”

Ruben Bijman (MTM Kawasaki), stated: “The weekend was good, we were consistent and ready to go. In qualifying I managed to set the ninth fastest lap time! In the first race I had a lot of bad luck in the beginning. I was pushed wide by other riders and lost a lot of positions, and therefore I had a gap to the leading group. I tried to close it but was pushed wide by another rider, hit the kerb and lost the front. The second race went much better and I was in seventh place in the last lap. Until Turn Six I tried to outbrake Yuta and he did the same to another rider. I was on the inside and couldn't get away. We hit each other and went down together. I want to say sorry to the team for the second race. I am going to learn from this and come back stronger in Assen!”

Bruno Ieraci (Prodina Racing Kawasaki), stated: “Sunday’s race was a great race. I was fighting for the win and I fought for the podium at every corner. In the end, unfortunately, I got the strategy of the final stages wrong. In the last corner I found myself in the wrong position and with the slipstream they overtook me. I lost the podium by a few thousandths, so there is some regret. Thank you so much to the team for all the work they have done. We will try again in Assen.”