The opening season of the World Supersport 300 Championship (WorldSSP300) is already a history. So I would like to review the whole 2017 season which is included as a part of the World Superbikes Championship.
At the beginning of this season you could read here on this blog something about this brand new category. I was even writing some reports after the races in the first half of the season. But later somehow I was more interested in writing about MotoGP and I was very active on my other blog.
But it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t watch this. I was watching the WorldSSP300 for the whole season so I would like to review it not only about the race results and Championship results but I also add some of my points of view.
Before the season started I did publish here some of the rules for the category, the starting list was also published on this blog. So let’s review the season race by race.
I already wrote this kind of review for my Czech written blog. Now it’s time to publish it also in English.
Before the season when I saw the starting list I knew just a few names there. So I decided to support these riders and then I would see how the season goes. I was really looking forward to Scott Deroue who I already knew from his Moto3 times and even I met him in Brno (and didn’t take any photo with him and now I regret it). I also knew Mika Pérez who won the EJC Championship (European Junior Cup). I was really curious about Ana Carrasco and also the other lady Avalon Biddle. Before the season I was also looking forward to the Kallio Racing and I was happy they were meant to be part of this category. Their riders were Renzo Ferreira from Brazil (I have to admit I didn’t hear about him before) and Kimi Patova from Finland. Sure, I already knew Kimi’s name as I was following a little bit the Kallio Racing boys. And even, name Kimi!
For the first race of the season Marc García got the wildcard. I was happy about it because Marc was my favourite rider in the Red Bull Rookies Cup in 2016 and even in Brno 2016 I was celebrating his Saturday’s victory at the grandstand. I was sure he was amazing rider so I was happy he got a chance to race here in this category. Well, what firstly looked just like one wildcard appearance turned out to be his full season and in the end he was battling for the title. But step by step.
The first ever race of the season in World Supersport 300 was Aragon Grand Prix. The first ever winner of the category in its history was Scott Deroue. So as he was one of my favourites ahead of the season, you can imagine how happy I was that he was the winner of the first race. Dani Valle finished second in the race, Mika Pérez was third, Borja Sánchez fourth. I deliberately wrote top 4 because I would like to say something about them. I was happy for Mika Pérez and in that moment I finally decided that I really liked him and so I was going to support him. When it comes to Dani Valle and Borja Sánchez I would like to say that it turned out that these two were very talented boys and I was also thinking about cheering on them. Even they were team mates and even Marc García was in the team with them as well. These three looked like really great boys, great friends, great team mates.
Next race was Assen in the Netherlands. Marc García was again in the starting list and again next to his name was “wildcard”. So I was happy.
And what happened. Scott Deroue won his home race which was really amazing. Honestly I was very happy for him. It meant he won the second race of the season and in that time he had the maximum of 50 points. In that moment I was telling to myself that so far most of the motorbike season had pretty clear progress. Mir was winning in Moto3, Morbidelli in Moto2, Viñales in MotoGP, Rea in WSBK and here it was Deroue. So I myself thought he was the biggest title contender. Second in the Assen race was Glenn van Straalen, another local boy. So it was amazing for Dutch fans to have 1-2 in that race. Van Straalen was the wild card rider in that race and his performace was just impressive, it was his only appearance in this Championship. Alfonso Coppola finished third in that race. Sánchez was fourth, South African boy Dorren Loureiro was fifth, García sixth. I deliberately write the standings and the names just in case you don’t know how the Championship was going on so I could make this post exciting for you. In that race Mika Pérez wasn’t successful at all as he had zero points.
Well, in that moment after two rounds I was sure that it was super category, I really liked it and was sure I would enjoy watching it until the end of the season. I just have to say that at the beginning of the season I was a little bit confused from it, I didn’t know what I could expect from this new category. But the races were just amazing with lots of action until the end. I say that this is “Moto3 of Superbikes” :D How the season was progressing I was watching it more and more and started to be interested in it a lot.
So then teams and riders went to Italy, to Imola. And I can say that there it slowly started to be clear who would go for the Championship. I mean there it started to be clear who were the favourites.
Marc García won that race. In the starting list there was again “wildcard” next to his name (and that was like that until the end of the season). In that time I started to wonder about how many wildcards is one team or rider able to have. I thought that Marc was wildcard rider for Aragon GP and then since Assen he was full time rider for his team. But everytime I saw the word “wildcard” in the starting list I was confused. Second in Imola was local boy Alfonso Coppola, Ukrainian boy Mykyta Kalinin finished third. From my point of view I have to say that I started to like these two. I started to like Alfonso just because I realized he was good rider and also seemed to be nice boy. Mykyta also seemed to be as nice boy.
Well, as a fan I started to cheer on Pérez, García, Coppola, Deroue, Kalinin. I was also following the Kallio Racing boys, of course. And also I was following Ana Carrasco who was doing very well and fighting with the boys in the leading group in the races. I was also thinking about cheering on Sánchez and Valle. Well, in the end the riders I decided to follow more were also exactly the riders fighting for the Championship. Well, for me personally it was nice to see it but it was also quite difficult for me as a fan because suddenly I didn’t know who I wished to win the Championship. I liked them all and I wanted them all to win it. In my eyes they all were great and would deserve the title.
In Imola Borja Sánchez was 4th, it was for the 3rd time in a row that he finished on 4th position. It was really shame. I started to believe he could be the dark horse of the Championship and was waiting for his first (and following) podium finishes.
Donington Park was the next round of the Championship. Alfonso Coppola won the race, Mika Pérez was second and Marc García third. From my personal point of view it was amazing because in that stage of the Championship there were these three who I was supporting the most. So it was so nice for me to see them together on the podium. But later unfortunately the news about Alfonso’s disqualification came out. Well, 25 points were lost, first important moment for the Championship. So Mika Pérez was promoted to the first place, Marc García was second and Scott Deroue moved to third place.
It all continued in Misano. And there it was Mika Pérez who won again, so he took his second victory in a row. But this time he really finished first under the chequered flag. The local rider Armando Pontone finished second. For him it was really good result as until that moment he was mainly struggling. Another Italian, Alfonso Coppola, was third.
Scott Deroue was still leading the Championship standings, Mika Pérez was second, Marc García third, Alfonso Coppola fourth. The summer break could start. It was quite a long summer break for them. Because Misano race was in the middle of June and then next race was planned to be Lausitzring in Germany in the second half of August.
And so the race in Lausitzring was interesting to watch. Alfonso Coppola won (and in that moment I personally started to be sure I was cheering on him), Marc García second and the Dutch rider Robert Schotman was third. Dani Valle was classified as fourth, Borja Sánchez fifth.
A few weeks after this race it was announced that Mika Pérez, Scott Deroue and Chris Taylor were disqualified from the German round. Well, Taylor’s DQ wasn’t that important from the Championship point of view, but DQs of Pérez and Deroue were crucial for the Championship. Originally Pérez finished third and Deroue fifth.
After this race it was for the first time during the season that we saw a change in the riders standings. It was Marc García who went to the lead in the Championship. Alfonso Coppola was second and Scott Deroue dropped to third place.
The next race was in Portimão, Portugal and I guess this race was making the history. It was amazing race, I was watching it with my full enthusiasm. During the race I thought that Ana Carrasco could finish on the podium as she was doing really great race there and was in the leading group. But she won it! It was one of the most amazing moments of the whole motorsport season. She became the first woman to win a race in World Championship. Alfonso Coppola finished second and Marc García was third. And also these two switched their positions in the Championship standings. Coppola went to the lead, García was second and Deroue kept his third position. And also it started to be clear that the title battle would be between Coppola and García, maybe also Deroue and Pérez had some chances.
The penultimate round of the season was in Magny Cours. Marc García won and Alfonso Coppola finished second so they switched their positions in the Championship standings again. García was leading by just four points ahead of Coppola.
In the race Robert Schotman was third, Mika Pérez was fourth, Scott Deroue fifth and both Pérez and Deroue already lost their Championship chances. It was just García vs. Coppola.
Last race weekend of the season did take place in Jerez. It was exciting, it was emotional. The battle García vs. Coppola was there and just 4 points between them in the Championship standings. So the drama was there. And I personally was pretty confused. I have liked Marc a lot since 2016, during this season I also started to like Alfonso so for me it was so difficult to decide who I would like to see to win the thing. I couldn’t decide as both were amazing and both would deserve it. And I just wasn’t able to look at it as only the unbiased viewer. I knew that whatever happens I would have mixed feelings – happy for the winner but disappointed for the another one.
The race itself was amazing and nerve-wrecking, at least for me as I still didn’t know who I was cheering on. For a while in the race I prefered Coppola, then García… and so on and I was confused. I wanted both to win the title which was impossible.
Well, the wildcard rider Galang Hendra won the race and if I am right he became the first ever rider from Indonesia to win the World Championship race. Scott Deroue was third so after some harder times it was nice to see him back on the podium. Alfonso Coppola was third and for a short moment he thought he became the Champion. But Marc García was fourth and for him it was enough to secure the title.
Marc García became the first ever World Supersport 300 Champion in its history!
Well, now my personal feelings will come. Well, I say it like this. As much as I was happy for Marc and wanted to celebrate the title, I was also that sad for Alfonso. It was amazing to see the celebration for Marc, they had some special T-shirts and even special helmet was prepared for him. But on the other side, for me it was so heartbreaking to see Alfonso in tears. Well, I know he is very young boy and everything is ahead of him and one day he will be World Champion as well but I understand that in that moment all the emotions were there. I was pretty sad and emotional too.
In that moment in my mind there were philosophical thoughts like every coin has two sides and where one side is winning, the other one has to lose just because this is how it all works.
Really I wished them both to win it and after the race I didn’t know whether to be happy or disappointed or what kind of emotion I should feel. Well, I had lots of mixed feelings. Oh dear, I really don’t know why I do take it all so seriously and I am so passionate about it. I am like immersed in it and it is also so intense.
So, when it comes to the Constructors Championship it was Yamaha who took the title. In Teams Championship it was Halcourier Racing (García, Valle, Sánchez) who celebrated the title.
So, in the end Borja Sánchez didn’t take any podium finish although I was expecting it. Dani Valle was on the podium just once. So in the end the best one from the team was the rider who originally was meant to be the wildcard one.
Actually it is pretty interesting and somehow strange that Marc García was originally announced as the wildcard rider but in the end it was him who grabbed the World Championship title.
Of course I have to mention my favourite Kallio Racing team. Boys were gaining some experience in the world and they were finishing the races in the second half of the field (let’s say at the end of the field) and unfortunately there were also quite a lot of races where they didn’t finish. But it was great experience for them, at least I think so, so we will see how their careers will look like in the future. Renzo Ferreira didn’t take any points in the whole season, his best result was P18 from Assen. Kimi Patova was able to take some points, in Assen he took 5 points for 11th place and these were his only points in the season.
I also want to mention KTM bikes. In Jerez (last round of the season) Omar Bonoli and Jan Ole Jahning got wildcard rides with KTM. But the KTM bikes didn’t have the homologations in that time so the riders weren’t allowed to be classified. But in the race both were doing really well, they were fighting in the leading group. Well, I wasn’t surprised about that Bonoli was fast as I knew him from the Rookies Cup and he was really good there. But I think that if KTM has the homologation for next season we can see one more competitive bike in the Championship.
So that’s just a brief review of the season of the World Supersport 300 category. Well, really it is just brief, believe me there would be much more to talk about.
Last of all, I would like to say that this category seems to be really good and the first season was amazing and I started to like it a lot and of course I will be following it in the future. I hope this category has great future ahead. All the races were amazing, exciting, full of action, it was great to watch it. I also found some great talents, I found some new names who I would like to follow more. I think that the first season was successful and I am looking forward to how everything will go on in the future.
Here you can see top 15 of the Championship standings (please note the difference between first and second):