Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGo Team) became the youngest rider ever to win an FIM Roadracing World title after finishing second to 2018’s history maker Ana Carrasco (Kawasaki Provec) in the 12-lap Magny Cours WorldSSP300 race. The only other potential champion pre-Magny Cours, Scott Deroue (Kawasaki Motoport), was third in a close fought race. All three top Kawasaki Ninja 400 riders covered by just 0.430 seconds at the flag.
The race was held in dry and warm conditions for the time of year and the top three riders enjoyed the fight at the penultimate round of the season. Deroue had started from pole, Carrasco from second grid spot but Gonzalez was only 14th on the grid and had to make up early ground on his rivals.
The 4.411km Magny Cours circuit features many types of corners but it is characterised strongly by braking areas, which allow many opportunities for passing - and defending - track position. Gonzalez picked off his opponents and was ninth on lap one, fourth on lap two and in a podium position as early as lap three.
Deroue and Carrasco were in the leading group throughout, with Scott setting a new class lap record of 1’54.065 on lap 11 as he tried to get into winning contention.
After winning three races in the early season Gonzalez just needed to keep pace with his two Kawasaki rivals to make his championship safe but the 17-year-old pushed to the end and scored his sixth top three finish in seven races so far.
Carrasco’s win puts her out front alone again in terms of WorldSSP300 class race wins, with five over her short but successful career in this category.
Behind the podium dramas and decisive rides Kawasaki riders dominated the top ten, with Livio Loi (2R Racing Team Kawasaki), Bruno Ieraci (Kawasaki GP Project) and Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) filling the finishing spots from sixth to eighth – and Nick Kalinin (Nutec – RT Motorsports by SKM) taking the final top ten place. Three more Kawasaki riders scored championship points of some kind today.
As the other WorldSBK classes head to Argentina next, the top WorldSSP300 riders have a final round at Losail in Qatar, with raceday on 26th October.
Manuel Gonzalez, stated: “The race was good and I knew on the last lap that the group was a four, so I only had to finish in this group. But I tried to finish on the podium because it is always nicer to finish there and see yourself up on the podium. I tried in the last corner to overtake Verdoia and Deroue and I have to be happy because I was near the top in most of the races; only one zero score in Donington. I had some wins and some podiums so I am very happy with my season.”
Ana Carrasco, stated: “I felt very strong in wet and dry conditions and I was ready for the race. I knew that I could fight for the victory but I knew it would be not easy too, because it was windier than the rest of the weekend. The bike was not working in the same way. I pushed with everything I had and I am very happy to achieve another victory this season. We are going in a good way and it was another race win for us but it was shame to lose the championship here, in a place I won it last season. But Manuel had quite a perfect season so he deserves to win the championship this year.”
Scott Deroue, stated: “To be honest I was a quite difficult race because Ana was setting such a good pace. I tried to follow but it was very hard and sometimes there was a small gap and I had to close that gap again. In the end it worked out because I was there near the end. On the straight I had to brake later before the hairpin, and with three riders in front of me it was difficult to do. I got into second place but three corners from the end I nearly lost the front. My exit was not so good so Manuel passed me on the straight but I nearly passed him back before the last corner. It did not work out but third is OK, so I am happy.”