Some changes for 2021 included a marginally smaller field of what is still well over 40 riders and a trimmed down Superpole session, plus a new race tyre for all to use from Pirelli.
In Superpole Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) was second fastest, missing out on pole by 0.004 seconds only. Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) was fourth quickest. They would each leave the weekend as race winners; Huertas on Saturday and Booth-Amos on Sunday.
The First race of the weekend was scheduled for 15 laps but was finally classified after nine laps, after a heavy crash inside the second group of riders while entering the first turn.
In the Saturday classification Spanish rider Huertas won by a slim 0.004 seconds from Booth-Amos, having put in a passing manoeuvre at a fortuitous time to lead the race when the red flag came out.
Remarkably, Huertas had earlier been issued a long lap penalty for exceeding the track limits (another innovation in the overall WorldSBK paddock in 2021) but still took the win despite having to add an extra section of track to his overall race distance.
Ninja 400 riders dominated the podium, with Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) third behind Huertas and Booth-Amos.
Samuel Di Sora (Leader Team Flembbo Kawasaki) was placed fifth and 2020 World Champion Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) sixth.
Koen Meuffels (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT) and new WorldSSP300 rider Harry Khouri (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki) finished eighth and ninth respectively. The 2018 World Champion Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec) was 11th, having started 13th on the grid.
The second race of the weekend, which went to the full 15 lap duration, saw eventual winner Booth-Amos cross the line second after an epic last corner melee, in a fight for the podium places shared between ten riders. After a penalty was applied to the provisional race winner Unai Orradre, Booth-Amos took his rightful reward and his first win of the season.
Huertas was third, in a race in which the top ten riders crossed the line covered by just 0.795 seconds. Okaya was fourth, just 0.073 seconds from his second podium of the weekend, while Carrasco was a fighting fifth.
Hugo De Cancellis (Prodina Team Kawasaki) went from 17th on the grid to sixth, with De Sora eighth. Buis was 12th in race two, to finish his day eighth in the championship. Khouri was an early faller but remounted to finish the race, in 28th place and out of the points.
In the championship standings, after one round and two races, Booth-Amos leads with 45 points, Huertas is second on 41, Yamaha rider Unai Orradre third with 33 and two Kawasaki riders, Yuta Okaya and Samuel Di Sora, fourth and fifth, with 29 and 19 points respectively.
There will be no WorldSSP300 race at the Portuguese round of WorldSBK next week, but action gets back underway at Misano In Italy between 10 and 12 June. The season will comprise of 16 individual races in all.
Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), stated: “I think this victory was a really hard one because last year was a really difficult one, just to learn. Last year I just pushed. With the long lap penalty in the middle of race one it was a really strange thing. I had not done one all weekend, but finally I took the win. I wanted to win the second race too but the last lap was quite strange. I think we made a really good job. I think some other riders touched the green area into the last corner, but I am happy with this third position.”
Tom Booth-Amos (Fusport - RT Motorsports by SKM Kawasaki), stated: “For me this is the worst circuit of the year so to come away with second place in race one I am very happy. I am a little bit… not annoyed… but the red flag came after I had led most of the laps so it’s frustrating that I did not get the victory. My pace is strong and yet I don’t particularly like this circuit. We have a new tyre this year, new for everyone and it seems little bit more difficult in the hot weather. On the last lap one of my rivals used the green are of the track limits, so obviously I am quite happy to win. I felt a little bit robbed about the red flag yesterday. Same again today, I led most of the race but I won. So, to come away with a win and a second, obviously I am very happy.”
Yuta Okaya (MTM Kawasaki MOTOPORT), stated: “My opening race was not perfect and I made mistakes in gearing. So I lost positions in the first half of the race. Afterwards I gained from behind and then I had good pace and good braking. These are strong points. I had confidence for the race, for my lap times, so I am satisfied with my confidence.”
Ana Carrasco (Provec Kawasaki Racing), stated: “I am very happy with today's result, I felt good in the race and I have been able to fight in the head group, which was the aim. With four or five laps to go, I started losing grip on the rear and it was hard for me to stop the bike under braking, so it's been hard for me to defend my position. On the last lap I was able to take advantage of the slipstream on the back straight and gain quite a few positions, so I am satisfied with this 5th position. Now we have three weeks until the Misano race, so I'll keep working as hard as I can to get stronger physically and take another step forward. Thanks to the team and to Kawasaki for the work this weekend and for helping me achieve this result, which gives us confidence for the next race.”
Jeffrey Buis (MTM Motoport Kawasaki), stated: “The pace was good from the first session. Superpole was quite chaotic, because it was very busy on track and then I had a good start from eighth place. The first race went according to plan. Unfortunately, the red flag ruined my plan for the last few laps. The second race actually went very well until the last lap. My brake protector was ripped off and I fell back in the group. I came back strong, but in the last corner I got stuck and had to go wide on the wet part. Then you have no chance. Not the result we had hoped for, but we have shown that we are in a good position. I’ve good confidence for the next race.”
Koen Meuffels: “The feeling after the first race was good. We had a good pace, but it was a shame the red flag came out, because we could achieve more than eighth place. There is not much to say about the second race, except for a lot of bad luck. In the first corner I had to go off the track because of a crash right in front of me. I was able to continue at P35 and managed to ride back to P20. Then the same thing happened again when riders behind me crashed and hit me. My race was over because of this and I decided to go to the box, because there wasn’t a chance for points anymore.”