BUIS ON NEW 2024 CHALLENGE: “To leave the team after you become World Champion is hard…”

Jeffrey Buis made history in the 2023 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship campaign when he became the first double Champion in the series’ history, having won titles in 2020 and 2023. He was then racing for the MTM Kawasaki squad and reflected on his incredible success after securing the history-making title at Portimao, as well as explaining his promise to Victor Steeman’s dad following Steeman’s sad passing and giving a short preview of the 2024 season, where he has switched to the Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing squad.

OVERALL FEELINGS: “to be a two-time World Champion is incredible”

Each season of WorldSSP300 has brought a different Champion, until Buis in 2023. The Meppel-born rider previously won the title in 2020, before trying to defend it in 2021 where he finished third. He stepped up to WorldSSP in 2022 but that proved challenging for the Dutchman as he scored no points, before opting to link up with MTM Kawasaki in WorldSSP300 again. It was the catalyst for a record-breaking season, with Buis the first two-time Champion in the class as well as the record holder for most wins (11) and joint holder for most podiums (20, level with Scott Deroue).

Discussing the season and how it feels to be able to call himself a two-time World Champion, Buis said: “I have to say, to be a two-time World Champion, especially in WorldSSP300 is incredible. It’s a feeling that I don’t know how to describe. Back in 2020, I was quite young and everything that season went quite well. In 2023, it was quite different because I had some ups and downs, some crashes, and to comeback from those crashes was quite tough. I managed to win the title again, and that’s a lot more pressure than the first title. In WorldSSP300, I had a tough year, I struggled a lot, but the team helped me to believe in myself. They said, ‘go again, go again’ and from that moment I knew to never give up; everything was still possible.”

THE BUILD UP TO THE CROWNING MOMENT: “we were a bit nervous…”

Buis, who turned 22 in December after securing the crown, won it in the final race of the season. Heading into Race 2 at Portimao, he had a 22-point lead over rival Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez, then at Accolade Smrz Racing BGR, as the pair battled it out, with the Dutchman coming out on top after finishing 11th in the race. It was enough to secure him the title, and he discussed the build-up to the final race and how he was feeling ahead of a defining race.

Buis explained: “In the 24 hours leading up to it, we were a bit nervous because we didn’t want to lose it as I was very close. It was my plan to go for the first few laps, we were the top riders, so we made a small group. Sometimes it’s 15 riders, sometimes it was 10, and this time it was 10; this was perfect for me. In the first corner, some riders touched me, so after this I thought I needed to be a little bit careful and not crash. If there was ‘okay’ on the pit board then there was no problem, I was in the Championship position. If they removed it, I had to go. Every lap, I was trying to be sure. With four laps to go, I had enough space behind me and a safe space in front of me to finish the race and enjoy it. I didn’t realise what I’d achieved really until I was back in the pit box with my father and mother. From that moment, it was incredible. When you see them again, it’s emotional.”

A PROMISE TO STEEMAN’S DAD: “I made a promise to try and get the Championship for Victor”

Victor Steeman tragically passed away after a crash at the same circuit a year before, with Buis revealing he made a promise to Steeman’s dad that he would try and get the Championship for him. With the pair coming up through the ranks together, Buis explained how he learnt from Steeman riding the Kawasaki Ninja 400, while he also paid tribute to him while on the cool-down lap at Portimao after securing the title.

Talking about the emotions he felt, Buis said: “From junior racing, I was always riding together with Victor. He was always a little bit better than me! I always looked up at him as a little kid as a good rider. The crash happened and then everything was so strange. I made a promise to his dad to try and get the Championship for Victor. I tried to learn from Victor’s riding because in 2022, he did very special things on the bike. It’s difficult to say, but I also think that’s why I won the Championship.”

THE CHALLENGE FOR 2024: new history to be made?

It was announced before securing the title that Buis would race for the Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing squad in 2024 as he goes in search of more records. One podium would give him the record for podiums in WorldSSP300, while a third title would cement his place as one of the all-time greats in the Championship. If he does win the title on the KTM RC 390 R machine – where he will race with the #1 plate – he would be the first to win the title with two different manufacturers.

Despite leaving the MTM Kawasaki team, Buis explained how they’d always be a family to him after enjoying so much success: “To leave the team especially when you become World Champion is hard because from 2019, I have some great memories, especially the two titles with them. They will always be a family for me. Even if I move to KTM, they’re still my family.”

The 2024 WorldSSP300 campaign starts in Catalunya! Watch it all using the WorldSBK VideoPass!

Source: WorldSBK.com

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