After three rounds some people are saying that World Supersport this year is a Yamaha Cup and of course the top 3 in all three rounds so far have been Yamahas. We need to look deeper at this though and realise that actually the most experienced fast riders are on Yamahas and that is the biggest reason for the Yamaha machines looking so strong in these opening rounds.
Don’t forget Kenan Sofouglu is out injured again and maybe won’t be back. Jules Cluzel switched from our Honda Team to the newly formed NRT Racing Team on Yamaha. Had a fit Kenan been riding the Kawasaki and Jules still been on our Honda then for sure they would be fighting at the front as well.
Mark my words things will change and the Honda and Kawasaki machines will be there or thereabouts. De Rosa and Baldolini are also good riders and subject to reliability on the MVs will also have a say. At Aragon for instance De Rosa was in the fight until the engine failed. That is always going to be an issue with the MV. Lastly, now in his third season Luke Stapleford is starting to be more competitive and may also play a part, especially at the tracks he knows so well like where we are this week at Assen and of course Donington.
Looking at our own riders Niki Tuuli went well in testing but has struggled a little when it comes to the events to be on the pace. I am enormously confident he will show everyone this season as he grows in experience with our CIA Landlord Insurance Honda machine. He is working well with the team and getting better every round. You can say he is fortunate to be 7th in the Championship but that is also testament to his and the team’s consistency and our determination to get to where we should be in the races. We must not forget he is only 22 and has also only ridden Yamaha so lacks the experience to just jump on another make of bike and be consistently right there. He is a professional guy and very good to work with. We have been getting stronger and stronger but have that step to take to get Niki and our bike back where both have been.
The biggest thing is to do that qualifying lap on Friday to make sure Niki goes straight into Superpole 2. We have discussed this and all of us know just how important this is and the difference it makes. Quite simply if you do not get away with the top group in most cases you are not going to catch them. I know in some instances experienced riders have been able to do this but it is not the norm. As I said we are starting to understand each other now and a really good team spirit is building. I am truly confident we will see another step forward this weekend
Andrew Irwin has also had a tough start to the season. He arrived in Australia in a confident frame of mind only to crash on day one. This of course can happen to any young rider but he was unfortunate to break bones in his hand, not only ruling him out of Australia but also hampering him in Thailand and even a little in Aragon. He is coming back to full fitness now and we are working with him to rebuild his confidence. We are starting to see more consistent riding from Andrew now and coming here to Assen, a track he knows from British Supersport, he will be able to concentrate more on adapting to the Honda than having to learn a track at the same time. It is a really big step up from British Supersport with the level and depth of field here much higher. I think this was even a bit of an eyeopener for Andrew but as with Niki he is a professional and determined young man and together we will get him up the field and in to the points. From there we will progress forward and I am sure you will all see Andrew challenging near the sharp end during this season. He is too good a rider not to.
Hopefully that gives you all an insight into just how hard you need to work to be at the front at World Supersport level and that things are not always just how you see them.
World Supersport has taken another step up this year with the depth of field and more great racing. Make sure you all come to Donington over the May bank holiday weekend to see the best Supersport and Superbike riders in action.