European Cup fight is tight at the top
Unique to the FIM Supersport World Championship, the European Supersport Cup is a successfully into its second season and is offering young riders to fight on the world stage, at a lower cost. Only racing in the European rounds of the season, they are over half way through their season and just nine points split the fight. Hannes Soomer (WILSport Racedays), Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Jenik – Against Cancer) and Alessandro Zaccone (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) are the only three to score points so far in 2017.
With seven riders signed up to the cup, there is an intense fight as they also have to battle through the competitive WorldSSP series. MotorLand Aragon saw Soomer break into the top ten overall, lapping just over one second slower than race winner Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) after a stunning fight back from 21st on the grid.
Bringing a tough battle for the second round of the championship, the Acerbis Dutch Round saw Hartog take top ESS spot in 10th, whilst Soomer was down in 13th position overall as the pair continued as the only points scoring finishers of 2017. The Motul Italian Round welcomed home success for Italian Zaccone, as the rest of the ESS field finished outside the points around the highly technical Imola circuit.
Heading to the UK and the iconic Donington Park, it was Soomer who once again finished in the points and began to close the gap to the top onboard his Honda machine. Whilst in the final race before the summer break, Soomer finished the race in the top nine and three ESS riders scored points at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.
Heading into the summer break with 20 points and a seven point lead, WorldSBK caught up with Estonian youngster Soomer to speak about his season so far, and how he is finding the ESS Cup onboard his CBR600RR.
“This season has been surprisingly really good,” begins Soomer. “Last year the WorldSSP wildcards didn’t do so well but the team and package has been working really well this year, and I’m enjoying it. I think they key to the strong pace is many little things; it’s a really good bike, a really good team and I have improved myself too.”
Discussing the gap to the full time WorldSSP bikes, he continues: “The battle with the WorldSSP riders is of course difficult, they are the best riders on the 600cc machines. But I think I am learning, in the beginning it was difficult to fight with big names as some of them are world champions! But I think it’s cool and funny to race against them.”
“My favourite race so far has been Donington, even though in Aragon we achieved the best result. But in Donington we were the closest to the top, and we have been improving every race. But the second half of the season won’t be any easier, we have to keep up all the time and keep improving.”
Finally giving his thoughts on the ESS Cup as an initiative, Soomer explains: “The ESS is a really good platform; it makes it a bit easier to come to this paddock and this series. Even if you are 15th overall, you still get some points in theory, it’s important for young guys and it’s a really good platform.”
Keep up with all the WorldSSP and ESS news throughout the winter break over on WorldSBK.com, and relive all the action so far from 2017 with the WorldSBK VideoPass. Bikes take to the track again in August for the German Round at Lausitzring.