Round eight of the 2018 WorldSSP championship will witness Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders Hikari Okubo and Sheridan Morais ride at their team’s home circuit in Italy, shortly before the start of the series’ long summer break.
With no WorldSSP race at the most recent Laguna Seca round of the overall WorldSBK championship both Sheridan and Hikari are primed and ready to race, having not competed on their middleweight Ninja machines for a month.
After seven races since his move to Kawasaki the increasingly experienced Okubo is looking for his first top five finish. He has been close to the leading riders on occasion but found misfortune before the races reached the chequered flag. His best single finish of the year has been tenth, which he achieved at Imola. He qualified fifth at Donington, two rounds ago.
Riding as a replacement for the recently retired Kenan Sofuoglu, Morais has shown flashes of the form that gave him a race win in WorldSSP last season. He now looks to Misano as the place to get back to his very best, in what will be his fifth race for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team this season.
Morais is now 15th overall and Okubo 18th after seven of the 12 rounds have been completed.
A long summer break will take place after the completion of the Misano round. The season does not get underway again until round nine, at Portimao in Portugal, with raceday on the 16th of September.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I like the track at Misano. I have had time to go back to Japan since the most recent race and relax. I also had lots of good minimoto training in Japan, to keep me sharp. I really think I can have a good race in Misano. I know the races before were so difficult. But, I am confident I can get have a good race this weekend in Italy. I have a good feeling in my spirit.”
Sheridan Morais, stated: “I am looking forward to the last round before a long summer break. I feel like we’ve only just started in some ways, so with this big break coming up, we need a strong result. I have been working hard on making that a reality. Misano is a good track for me and know it almost as well as the Italian riders.”
Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) will be back and ready to aim for his best finish of the year in Italy. Currently the Aussie star is top Kawasaki rider in the championship, in eighth place. The experienced West has been a WorldSSP race winner at Misano in the past, during the 2007 season.
Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Against Cancer) sits 13th overall and is top of the FIM Europe Supersport Cup standings, designed for riders who only compete in the European-based rounds of the championship. He is still the convincing ESS points leader, 13 ahead of his nearest rival.
Wayne Tessels (Chromeburner Wayne’s Racingteam MTM) is 25th in the standings on the eve of the Misano round. Argentina’s Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) is another rider competing for an Italian based team at Misano. Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) completes the regular confirmed Kawasaki line up for the eighth round.