The start of another season is around the corner. Already next week there will be first race weekend! It all will happen in Australia and the World Supersport category will be there as well. So it’s time for a preview ahead of the season.
As well as I did it in the World SBK preview, I will devide it to the parts according to the teams.
There are 31 riders from 15 different countries in the entry list. All continents are included. When it comes to an american continent, there is only North America. Unfortunately there is nobody from South America, with it the list would be totally complete. Quite a shame I have to say.
The biggest amount of riders – 8 – comes from Italy, 5 riders are from Great Britain, 3 from Japan. France, the Netherlands and Australia has 2 riders, other countries (Turkey, Spain, Estonia, Finland, Switzerland, USA, Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa) are represented by 1 rider. I count both, the World Supersport Championship and the European Supersport Championship. Riders from ESS will start their season in Aragón so maybe there will be some more riders announced in the upcoming weeks.
Kawasaki Puccetti Racing
The 5 times World Champion Kenan Sofuoğlu stays with this team for another season. Will it be 6th title for him? Well, right now we can’t know it but I personally guess that he will be one of those fighting for the title. Right now there is just small trouble for him as he has broken his arm so let’s hope everything will be fine soon. Kenan has new team mate for the season. It is Kyle Ryde. In my opinion he is very talented guy and this is big chance and challenge for him. I guess he could be the dark horse of the Championship.
Team Go Eleven
Team Go Eleven with Kawasaki bikes and with Gino Rea and Kazuki Watanabe. Rea has lots of experience with this class and for me personally it’s nice to see him there again. Kazuki Watanabe is a rookie there. Lots of new things are ahead of him. Not only new class, new kind of motorbike for him but also new circuits as he mostly knows just the ones in Japan.
Race Department ATK#25
The team will compete with MV Agusta bikes and it’s two riders structure. The riders are Alex Baldolni and Davide Pizzoli. Baldolini is very experienced WorldSSP rider but he took just one podium finish (P3 in 2012). Pizzoli is a young promising rider who is a rookie there. Actually he is the youngest rider in the category. He already did some races in Moto3 in last two years but he was mainly racing in Italy.
Orelac Racing VerdNatura
This team keeps their line-up same which means there are still Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Nacho Calero. Khairuddin was racing in Moto3 for some years, last year he came to World Supersport and he even achieved one podium finish. He was 11th in the final standing which wasn’t bad at all. Calero, whose father is the owner of the team, is very experienced here. It will be already his 5th season in WSS but so far he hasn’t achieved anything big. Maybe this year?
Bardahl Evan Bros. Honda Racing
A team with just one rider and it is Christian Gamarino, also the one who has quite a lot of experience from racing in this class. It will be his 4th season in WSS but similarly as Calero he hasn’t done anything memorable there. So let’s wait and see how it will be this year.
CIA Landlord Insurance Honda
A team with three riders and I guess all of them can be Sofuoğlu’s challengers. Mainly Jules Cluzel for whom it will be his 5th season in this category. Every year he aims for the title but he hasn’t reach it so far. Who knows, maybe this will be his year. Robin Mulhauser has already some experience with this racing series as he was racing in Superstock 600 a few years ago but then he was racing in Moto2. Now he comes back to this Championship so it’s hard to say what we can expect from him. But as I already said, I guess that this team will have well prepared bikes so he can be one of those on top. Hikari Okubo was racing in WSS already last year but overall he finished 21st. I believe this year he will use all the experience he gained during his rookie season. Just yesterday it was also announced that Japanese Hiromichi Kunikawa will be part of this team too. He will take part only as a part of the European Supersport Championship (which is part of WSS as well).
Kallio Race System
Firstly I have to say something. This is the team I love the most there. I want this blog to be unbiased but sometimes I just need to write who is my favourite and just say my opinion or something. So I am telling this to you in advance. I wish all the best to the team, Kallio family, to the riders and just everybody involved there. So, the riders for this season are Niki Tuuli and Sheridan Morais. Niki already did some WSS races with the team last year (and also one race in 2015) and he was amazing. He did mega job, he took part in 3 races in 2016 and in all these races he finished on the podium (he was P2 always). Ladies and gentlemen, he is the future of WSS! I believe that Niki is dark horse of the year. His team mate is very experienced guy. Morais has lots of experience from Superstock 1000, WSS and also WSBK. Last two years he wasn’t competing there, but still was racing. I am really happy he is back there in this Championship and I hope he will do very well.
The Profile Racing team have Triumph bikes. The riders of the team are Luke Stapleford and Stefan Hill. Luke impressed me when he was racing in the British Championship and last year I expected big things from him also in the World Championship. Then I was quite disappointed I have to say. So hopefully this season will be much better. Stefan Hill took part in the EJC (European Junior Cup) from 2013 to 2015 and last year he did his first season in WSS. So he has some experience already which could be useful for him.
Gemar Balloons – Team Lorini
Aiden Wagner and Kyle Smith will race on Honda for Team Lorini. Kyle Smith is well-known rider in this category. Last year he took two victories and one P3 position. It was good season for him as he was 5th in the final standing. This year it will be his 3rd season in WorldSSP so I guess he aims high. Neither Aiden Wagner is a rookie there. He already did some races in the class in 2015 and 2016 so 2017 can be something like a test for him what he has learnt so far.
Team Factory Vamag
The only one rider there is Roberto Rolfo who will be racing with MV Agusta. Roberto is very experienced rider there. He has lots of experience from the Superbike category and also some small experience from Moto2. Last 4 seasons he was racing in World Supersport class. During that time he scored 3 podium finishes (all P3s). So it will be his 5th season in this class. Last year it was his worst season since he has entered this category so hopefully this year it will be better.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
Federico Caricasulo and Lucas Mahias are the riders of this team for 2017. Federico became his career in the world in Superstock 600 and in 2014 and 2015 he wasn’t doing bad at all. He even took one victory. Last year he came to World Supersport and he even managed to get one pole position and one podium finish (P2 in Australia). There is lots of potential in him, I am quite curious about what he is able to achieve this year. Lucas Mahias is experienced rider but he also had some bad luck in the past. Last year he appeared in some Superstock 1000 and Superbike races. In STK1000 he also scored some victories. For this season he is back in WorldSSP so hopefully he will be lucky this time. From my personal point of view I think that this is very competitive riders’ line-up.
Puccetti Racing Junior Team FMI
I’ve been already talking about the Puccetti team with Sofuoğlu and Ryde. But this team has created also their junior team. Of course it is also with Kawasaki bike and they have one rider who is Michael Canducci. Canducci is 19 years old Italian who already has some experience from EJC, STK 600 and last year he also appeared in WorldSSP. Team Puccetti has chosen him to be part of the structure so we shouldn’t underestimate him. This team usually chooses good and talented riders.
Response RE Racing
Another one team using Kawasaki. Lachlan Epis was already racing with the team last year in WorldSSP and gain some experience. He also scored a point in the final race in Qatar. So that’s the proof he keeps learning and that he could be able to score more points than just one during this year.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse
Patrick “PJ” Jacobsen should be one of the riders fighting for the world title. He has lots of experiences from this class, in 2015 he won 2 races and was the runner-up in the Championship. Last year it was without any victory but he took 4 podium finishes and ended the season as 4th overall. So we definitely have to count with him. His team mate is Alessandro Zaccone who will race in the European Supersport Championship which means he will take part only in the European rounds.
As I already mentioned, the European Supersport Championship is part of the series too. Racers there are racing only in the European rounds and they have they own Championship and fighting for the title. But also their points are counted to the World Supersport Championship. It is not very possible but it can happen that one rider wins titles in both ESS and WSS in one year.
For the season 2017 there are 7 riders registered for ESS so far. I was already talking about Kunikawa and Zaccone a little bit. So let’s introduce also the other ones.
RSV Phoenix Suzuki
Connor London is coming from the EJC series. He was racing there for a few seasons but unfortunately without any bigger success. The New Zealander has everything ahead of him, he can just surprise us. Jacopo Cretaro is only 16. He was racing in CEV Moto2 and also in CIV. Last year he was one of those involved in the horrific accident at MotorLand Aragón in CEV Moto2. So it’s great to see him there prepared for new challenge.
WILSport Racedays Honda
I have to say that I am quite happy to see Hannes Soomer there. He was also supported by Kallio Racing if I’m right. Last year he tried some WorldSSP races as wild card. Before he was racing in EJC.
Team Hartog – Jenig – Against Cancer
Rob Hartog will race there with Kawasaki. He comes also from EJC, then he was racing in STK600 for some seasons and last year he was in STK1000. So it will be new class for him so we will see how he copes with it.
This team will race with Yamaha and with Jaimie van Sikkelerus. He also comes from EJC, last year he was also appeared in 2 races in World Supersports. So this year it will be his first full season there.
As you can see, the entry list is full of experienced riders aiming for the World title and also of the youngsters who want to learn as much as possible and be the future stars. It will be great to watch it all, I am sure.
Just to remind you, on Monday 20th and Tuesday 21st there are planned the official pre-season tests in Australia (together with WorldSBK class). And then, next weekend, first race weekend (also in Australia) starts.
Photo: World Superbikes