The two race winners and leaders – Aegerter and Odendaal
The “Domi Fighter”: Before the start of the season, the current World Cup leader gave us an interview, which can be found on this page “Interviews + TV”. It became clear that he was the only one in the paddock to deal with a double burden that none of his competitors would be exposed to. This season, Dominique Aegerter, as a WorldSSP 600 rookie, is doing the balancing act of competing in MotoE at the same time. These bikes weigh 260 kg without a rider and therefore over 100 more than a MotoGP motorcycle, and of course the Ten Kate Yamaha R6 from the Swiss is a whole world lighter. It is almost unbelievable how well the experienced man from Rohrbach in the canton of Bern has managed this change in a sensationally strong way. In MotoE, he is fourth in the World Championship and still has title chances. At the Supersport World Championship, he is currently the man to beat after 6 wins in 10 races. In the end, his only problem could be having to decide between the two series in the final with his two teams.
Steven Odendaal: As a South African, the young man has a handicap that he shares with his compatriots Brad and Darryn Binder. Far away from their homeland, in which no World Championship races have been held for many years, they have to move in a world fixated on Europe. Due to the pandemic, in the second Corona year, it has been almost exclusively on the old continent since 2020. In the team of the reigning world champion, as well as that of 2019, the fast man from Johannesburg is one of the top favourites this season. Last year he immediately became a top driver after moving from Moto2 and only missed by one place three times. Steven caught up with the best team in recent years, the WSSP 600, and immediately won the first three races. With two more podium places, he is currently Aegerter’s toughest contender for the title. Few of them would have expected this performance before the start of the season, but he himself certainly did.
The other top drivers in the first half of the season
The third place in the World Cup last year had of course hoped for an increase for this season. But if you compare Philipp Öttl‘s time in WorldSSP 600 with the years before that in Moto3 and Moto3, his performances are absolutely outstanding, despite he is still waiting for his first win. Except for his crash in the second run in Aragon, the German shines as in the previous year with his consistency and he was never worse than ranked 6th. Even if it shouldn’t be enough for the title, it is already clear that it belongs to the absolute top of the world and is a promise for the future. The same goes for Manuel Gonzalez, who was seventh in the 2020 World Cup, when he never did worse than in the top ten. The fast Spaniard from the Iberian capital Madrid made it in Most. In the Czech Republic he was on the podium twice in the WSSP600 and his hunger to repeat this soon or even to be on top of the podium could be seen after the second race.
Jules Cluzel – the eternal unlucky fellow in France: Even fans of Sandro Cortese, the surprise world champion of 2018, have to admit that the man from Montluçon would have deserved the title three years ago, just like the “Italo-Swabian”. He had cleared the fast Frenchman with a fall towards the end of the season, but was able to continue afterwards, while Cluzel with the demolished Yamaha did not have the chance to do so. In the end, he missed the points he lost in Portimão for the title, which he would have earned with 3 wins this season against 2 of the German. In Aragon, he was shot down while in the lead by Niki Tuuli, and in Most it was Kevin Manfredi who got him out of the saddle. Last year he was the victim of Raffaele de Rosa in Aragon and had to pause afterwards with a broken leg. Actually, that’s why he deserves the title most of all drivers, but life and sport are often anything but fair.
Luca Bernardi: The young man from San Marino will only be 20 years old a week after the Navarro event. Like Manuel Gonzalez, he comes from the WorldSSP 300 and just like him, he made his first podium places in the second Corona year. Bernardi was Italian super sports champion last year and, like the Spaniard, is currently one of the greatest talents who made the step from the junior class to the middle category. Christoffer Bergmann was also one of the drivers who was able to convince in the first two laps. However, the 31-year-old had to pay tribute to an injury that prevented him from starting for Most after Assen. But in Navarra the Swede, who is competing for the Wojcik Racing Team, should be there again, and he definitely has to be on the bill again from then on.
The positive surprises
Kevin Manfredi‘s website features a quote from his famous compatriot Marco Lucchinelli:
“The beauty is the placement, the result. Not the cup, this one bores you too, you have to clean it. You have the result in there.” He is a bit reminiscent of a hero from the film” Lord of the Rings “, but in a positive sense the short man from Sarzana (near La Spezia, near the Ligurian coast) lacks courage with the Definitely not a beard. In Most, he was two places ahead of the 2019 world champion, Randy Krummenacher. He and the two German wildcard drivers Max Enderlein and Luca Grünwald, who even won World Championship points in Most, are among the clearly positive surprises of this season. That doesn’t change anything about the fact that Manfredi was unfortunately mainly to blame for the fall of Jules Cluzel in the second run of the Czech Republic. For Enderlein and Grünwald, it is to be hoped that a door will open for both of them in the near future so that they can fight for the world championship.
The flops of the first half of the season – with “Krummi” at the top
We still remember well which objectives the “Krummenator” set before the start of the season. After his completely unexpected dive after the fall in the first corner of Phillip Island, he was not seen in the paddock for the rest of the year. Before his return, he gave nothing more than another title as an objective. He stayed very far from that in the first few races. After a fifth and third place in Assen, however, there was another setback in Most. His Swiss compatriot Aegerter already has three times as many points as him, which should destroy the dream of a second title. His successor Niki Tuuli at MV Agusta was one of the co-favourites in the World Cup before the start of the season, but falls, and an injury sustained in the process, meant that the Finn is only 12th in the intermediate ranking. Along with “Krummi” and the two Kawasaki pilots Can Alexander Öncü and Michel Fabrizio, he is one of the clear losers from whom one could expect more. This also applies to the 2019 vice world champion, Federico Caricasulo.
The current intermediate result in the WorldSSP 600
>WSBK Navarre preview see separate report on this page.
Unless otherwise stated, this applies to all images (© WorldSBK).