PREVIEW: Montella’s rivals hope to end his winning run, new manufacturer joins WorldSSP grid

A few weeks on from the unforgettable Australian Round that opened the FIM Supersport World Championship in phenomenal fashion, the riders are ready to go again as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya hosts Round 2 of 2024. There’s plenty to enjoy during the Pirelli Catalunya Round, with the WorldSSP Challenge riders starting their campaigns while it will also see the debut of a brand-new manufacturer, the seventh to compete this season.

MONTELLA LEADING THE WAY: can anyone stop the #55?

Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) was unbeatable in Australia, securing a majestic double to lead the way in the early stages of the season. He faces fierce competition from Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) as he looks to bounce back from crashes Down Under, while Barcelona is a circuit MV Agusta machines enjoyed last year: four podiums shared between Bahattin Sofuoglu and Marcel Schroetter, including a win for the #54, put the Italian manufacturer in good stead for 2024. Sofuoglu is the only previous WorldSSP winner at the circuit on the 2024 grid.

LOTS OF FAST RIDERS IN BARCELONA: it’s game on in Catalunya…

The Racing WorldSSP Team tasted victory here last year too in the hands of Nicolo Bulega, so will the team be on the top step with Adrian Huertas this year? Of course, at a track that often throws up surprises, don’t be too shocked if another name appears at the top. Perhaps Lorenzo Baldassarri (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) or someone else will fight for victory with Montella facing stiff competition for the top step.

A NEW MANUFACTURER: QJ Motor the seventh brand in 2024, ninth overall

QJ Motor’s highly anticipated debut will occur in Barcelona, with Raffaele De Rosa (QJ Motor Factory Racing) onboard the SRK 800 RR machine from the Chinese manufacturer. They join Ducati, Yamaha, Honda, Triumph, MV Agusta and Kawasaki on the grid to bring the total to seven for this season as they compete in the WorldSSP Challenge. They are also the first manufacturer from China to race in WorldSSP, making history as they go in search of success, utilising the skills of class veteran De Rosa.

WorldSSP CHALLENGE STARTS: six riders start their season

De Rosa’s first appearance of 2024 starts the WorldSSP Challenge campaign along with several other riders. Luke Power (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) gets his first race of the year on the F3 800 RR machine, as does Tom Edwards (D34G Racing WorldSSP Team) on the Panigale V2. Gabrielle Giannini (Team ProDina Kawasaki), Simone Corsi (Renzi Corse) and Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) are also in action to start their season.

WILDCARDS AND RIDER NEWS: two returning names to the Championship

Alongside the 32 riders on the full-time grid, there will be two wildcards who bring the total number to 34 for the Catalunya Round. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Altogo Racing Team) returns to WorldSSP after his half-season campaign last season, but he didn’t race in Barcelona after starting his season at Most. It’s also a return to WorldSSP for Eugene James McManus, who will ride a Panigale V2 machine for the ROKiT Haslam Racing. Previously, the Irish rider competed with three different manufacturers in his 10 races: Yamaha, Kawasaki, and Triumph, adding Ducati to an impressive list. Elsewhere, after missing the Australian Round through injury, Piotr Biesiekirski (Ecosantagata Althea Racing Team) will need to pass a medical check to race as he looks to finally make his WorldSSP debut.

EVERY SECOND LIVE: watch all the action from the Catalunya Round using the WorldSBK VideoPass!


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