Hendra Takes Stunning Victory as Yamaha Dominate WorldSSP300 Season Finale
Indonesian wildcard Galang Hendra (Team MotoX Racing) took a sensational victory on Sunday in Jerez as Yamaha lifted the Manufacturer's title at the final round of the inaugural 2017 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. The Japanese manufacturer completed a clean sweep of titles, as Marc Garcia (Halcourier Racing) on his Yamaha R3 won the championship by one point from Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner Alfonso Coppola (SK Racing Team) in a breathtaking race, with the title only decided in a sprint to the line that saw the first four riders separated by just 0.113s. Garcia's Halcourier Racing were also awarded the Team title, while the five other bLU cRU riders once again impressed at the season finale.
In what has been an amazing debut year for the championship, with the races entertaining audiences all over the world, it is Yamaha who have emerged on top after one of the most dramatic races of the season that served as a fitting finale to an action-packed year.
Hendra made his WorldSSP300 debut as a wildcard at Portimao and showed incredible potential despite it being his first time racing in Europe and on the Yamaha R3. Unfortunately, in the Portimao race he suffered a technical fault that forced him to retire, so upon his return to the championship for another wildcard ride in Jerez, he was determined to show the world what he could do. The 18-year-old Indonesian - who normally rides in the Asia Road Racing Championship AP250 class onboard a Yamaha R25 - had never set foot in Jerez before but that didn't stop him from stealing the show at the season finale.
He ended Friday's practice in a stunning fifth position whilst still learning the track, mixing it with the title contender he and kept up his form in qualifying to start Sunday's race from 7th on the grid. When the lights went out, he broke away with the leading group of six and was involved in one of the most spectacular battles seen this season. Fearlessly, he timed his move to perfection in the last few corners to steal into the lead and take an incredible victory by just 0.026s.
Garcia has enjoyed an incredible season-long battle with title-rival Coppola, but he held his nerve in the incredible Jerez showdown to be crowned the first-ever WorldSSP300 champion. The 17-year-old Spaniard crossing the line in fourth after being involved in the heart-stopping fight for the victory to secure the championship by just one point and also ensuring Halcourier Racing were awarded the Team title as well.
Coppola wrapped up the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge at the last round in Magny-Cours and went into the race trailing Garcia by four points in the championship standings, knowing a victory would see him become champion. Ending practice in second overall, the 20-year-old Italian qualified in 7th and immediately was involved in the battle at the front, building his pace superbly throughout the race and it looked like he had pulled off the perfect strategy as he led the race on the final lap, but he lost out in the final corners and crossed the line in third, just 0.038s behind race winner Hendra, beating Garcia to the line but agonisingly missing out on the title by just one point. Despite his disappointment at missing out on the championship, he is now focused on next season when, as winner of the challenge, Coppola will be an official Yamaha rider in a higher class.
Robert Schotman (GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team) ended the season on a strong note, despite suffering from a lack of acceleration during the race. Qualifying in ninth, the 18-year-old Dutch rider was involved in the battle for the win and fought valiantly to finish in sixth, in the process ending the season second in the challenge and seventh overall in the championship standings with 78 points.
Enzo De La Vega (GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team) secured his best result of the season in the race, crossing the line in seventh after qualifying in 12th. The 18-year-old French rider has shown good progress throughout the year, ending the season in 21st overall and fourth in the challenge with 19 points.
Mykyta Kalinin (Team MotoX Racing) had another strong race on Sunday. The 18-year-old Ukrainian rider started from 14th on the grid and battled hard during the race to finish in 12th, securing a top-ten finish in the championship and third in the challenge with 44 points.
Kimi Patova (Kallio Racing) had one of his best rides of the season in Jerez, despite having never ridden at the track before, as he charged through to cross the line in 21st after starting the race from 29th on the grid. The 15-year-old Finnish rider ends the season fifth in the challenge and 28th in the overall standings with 5 points.
16-year-old Brazilian Renzo Ferreira (Kallio Racing) started from 36th on the grid but rode superbly during the race to secure 29th at the line and, despite some impressive performances in 2017, ends the season sixth in the challenge, without scoring a championship point.
To highlight Yamaha's dominance of the championship, it was not only a 1-2 for the manufacturer in the race - with 8 of the first ten riders across the line riding R3s - but also in the championship. In fact, they ended the season with seven Yamahas in the top ten of the overall standings in what has been a superb debut year for Yamaha in WorldSSP300 Championship. Check out the full race results and the final championship standings.
Galang Hendra Pratama
Team MotoX Racing - 1st - 21:24.382
"I am very happy about this result! The race was very difficult, with lots of good battles with the other riders. This was my first time ever at Jerez and only the second time I have raced in Europe so I am very happy that I could win the race. I would like to say thank you Yamaha, MotoX Racing, and all my sponsors who made this possible!"
Halcourier Racing - 4th +0.113s
"I am really happy to win the championship! It has taken a lot of work to achieve what we have done and, at this moment, it has all paid off and that feels great. We had a good race, there was some amazing action for the fans and riders to enjoy. It was very tense on the final lap but, finally, we won the championship. I want to say thank you to my Halcourier Racing team, Yamaha and all my sponsors!"
SK Racing Team - 3rd +0.038s
"The season we have been very strong, it is such a shame I had my points from my win at Donington taken away as I would have been champion but this is racing and I don't want to dwell on the past, I prefer to look to the future. I would like to congratulate Marc Garcia on the championship, he is a good rider and we had good battles all season, which were always fair and clean. At this moment, I am obviously not very happy having missed out on the title by just one point but it was a great season! The Yamaha R3 is clearly the best bike on the grid in my eyes, and my SK Racing Team did amazing work all season, so now I must concentrate on next year and the challenge that lies ahead. First I will relax for a couple of weeks, before getting back into training and preparing for next season and I look forward to getting back on track already!"
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team - 6th +1.244s
"The season started quite hard for me, I was fighting at the front but I crashed out of the first two races when I had a chance for the podium. This wasn't great for my confidence so I had to start all over again and every race after then I improved, especially the second half of the season with my two podiums. I think I have really been on it and I think I could have got a lot more podiums this year and even maybe a race win. Sometimes that was down to me, sometimes we had issues with the bike, and other times it was down to circumstances out of my control. I think if you look at the improvements I made throughout 2017, then you can say it was a good season. Today's race was tough for me as I was lacking in acceleration, so every time I closed the gap the guys in front in the fast corners, they were pulling away from me on the straight by three-tenths of a second every time, which made it hard to attack. I managed to stay with the front group, which honestly, was quite a feat in a race like this, but it is a shame because I think I could have fought for the win otherwise."
Enzo De La Vega
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP Team - 7th +4.975
"I am very happy for this weekend because I had not raced at Jerez before. We did a good job in FP1 and FP2, then in Superpole 2, we had a little problem with the quickshifter that meant I had to start the race from 12th on the grid. I am very happy with the race because I finished in seventh to record my best result of the season after an excellent battle with the leading guys, which I really enjoyed. I am happy with the progress I have made this season!"
Team MotoX Racing - 12th +19.208s
"This weekend did not get off to the best start, but then I managed to find my rhythm around Jerez and things improved. In the race...well it was crazy! Everybody was overtaking everyone at every corner because it was the last race, so it was they were trying to win it or bin it and I was dropped back from the front group and got stuck behind some slower guys. Unfortunately, I realised I could not catch the leaders, but on the last lap, I managed to get to the front of the chasing pack. I entered the first corner in P1, but then five people tried to overtake me on the inside and it was carnage. I recovered to finish in 12th and that meant I managed to finish inside the top ten of the championship, which was my goal. I think that finishing in the overall top ten in my first year is pretty good!"
Kallio Racing - 21st +24.321s
"I really liked the track. It was my first time here and I learnt it really fast and every day I was able to improve my lap times, which was awesome. In SP1 I made a small mistake and I could not qualify where I want to but I was still happy because even riding alone and without a slipstream, I improved my time. In the race, I got a good start and I was able to tag onto a big group of riders. I was at the back but managed to overtake quite a few riders to get to the front of the group which was a great way to end the season. The season was brilliant. I learnt a lot about racing and gained loads of experience of riding in a world-class championship like this, plus being involved in such a good team like Kallio racing was incredible. I only hoped that I could have finished more races, as I crashed a few times and also made a few mistakes but I am still learning and I am happy with my progress."
Kallio Racing - 29th +40.151s
"The weekend was quite tough and it was very competitive, we had some problems trying to figure out which gearing to use, but we made a breakthrough for the race. I am happy that I managed to make up seven places on my starting position! This season has been an amazing experience for me, but also a very tough introduction to racing in a world championship. I learnt so much this year and next year I will come back stronger and continue to try my best!"