Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama was the top qualifying Yamaha rider on the weekend at the opening round of the new look World Supersport 300 Championship in 11th place. The new Kawasaki Ninja 400 took eight places in the top ten alongside a pair of KTM RC 390R. Yamaha mounted Pratama was 2.093-seconds slower than Kawasaki’s pole man Mika Perez.
In the race Koen Meuffels took a narrow victory for KTM ahead of five Ninja 400s while the first Yamaha home was Daniel Valle in 13th place, 15-seconds behind the race winner.
The first Honda CBR500R came home in 22nd place, a minute behind the winning KTM of Meuffels.
At a glance it suggests that machine weight plays a big part in the parity of the machines with the more powerful but heavier Honda suffering as a result.
One would expect the Honda to be most powerful followed by the new twin-cylinder Kawasaki. While the single-cylinder 375cc KTM one would expect to be around par with the twin-cylinder 321cc Yamaha YZF-R3.
However, the trap speeds from the race results on the weekend saw the KTM of Meuffels and the Kawasaki of Scott Deroue level pegged on 210.9 km/h. Obviously slipstream effect means this is not an outright clear comparison of true to speeds, but it is a reasonable indication. It also should be noted that Koen Meuffels weighs only 48kg.
It should also be noted that in lower capacity classes it is punch off the corner that has long been more valuable than top speed, although in the tight cut and thrust of this style of racing a speed advantage is of course also a huge benefit when it comes to close quarters battling.
The fastest Yamaha machines closed 204km/h while the fastest Honda managed 200.0. In standard trim I would suggest the Honda has a top speed at least equal to the Kawasaki 400, if not better, and the most torque. Thus I do suspect that the two Honda machines being run in the series by Scuderia Maranga Racing are very standard indeed. I am unaware of the pedigree and skill levels of their pilots.
Matching parity across machines with such varying capacities and weights is going to be an almost impossible challenge one would suspect. Kawasaki have had 10kg added to their minimum weight requirement for this season compared to the race weight of the smaller capacity Ninja 300 in 2017.
WorldSSP300 Minimum weights
Honda CBR500R 156 Kg
Kawasaki Ninja 300 (EX300A/D/F) 140 Kg
Kawasaki Ninja 400 (EX400G/H/J) 150 Kg
Yamaha YZF-R3 140 Kg
Yamaha YZF-R3A 140 Kg
KTM RC390 136 Kg
KTM RC390R 136 Kg
One manufacturer that is clearly upset by the current state of play is Yamaha. Some excerpts from a Yamaha Racing statement follow, their message pulls few punches.
“The five Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders fought valiantly throughout the opening round of the 2018 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship despite being denied a level playing field due to the FIM and Dorna – the series organiser – not being able to balance out the performance levels of the different manufacturers on the grid.
“The WorldSSP300 Championship sees bikes of varying engine capacities and power/weight ratios line up on the grid, with technical regulations designed to guarantee that despite these differences, the riders are given the chance to show their potential by ensuring all bikes perform at a similar level. It was these performance balancing technical regulations that led to such a thrilling debut season for WorldSSP300 in 2017, as it allowed the individual’s skill and talent to shine through instead of any technical advantages, something Yamaha believe is crucial in helping to develop the next generation of riders.
“Unfortunately, this was not the case at the opening round in Aragon as the Yamaha riders were made to suffer for being the bike the smallest engine capacity. Sadly, it put all Yamaha riders at a disadvantage with the other bikes on the grid having a 10-15kph top speed superiority over the R3. This resulted in lap times for the new Kawasaki and KTM machines being almost 5 seconds under the 2017 pole record (2:12.712), while Yamaha has stayed faithful to the rules by using the same specification machines as they did last season.
“Undeterred by the fact they knew they would not realistically being able to fight with the other manufacturers, the five Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders put in a sensational effort to produce some promising results after dealing with the sense of disappointment that follows from working hard all winter only to be denied the chance to showcase their riding ability in their first race on the world stage.
“Yamaha Motor Europe is confident that the FIM and Dorna will balance the regulations that are designed to produce a level playing field and expect action to be taken before Round 2 of the WorldSSP300 Championship in Assen on the 20th-22nd of April. This will not only preserve the reputation of the championship, but also ensure that it continues to provide young riders with an excellent platform to launch their careers in the World Championship.”
Andrea Dosoli – Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Project Manager
“All of our Yamaha riders, and especially the bLU cRU guys, have done a fantastic job during the winter and it obvious to everyone the results of this hard work because all of them were able to go under the fastest time set by a Yamaha last year, some by 2 seconds. This shows the job done during the winter started to pay dividends and we are very proud of them all. Unfortunately, they were up against unfair competition due to the incorrect levels of performances between the manufacturers, when the technical regulations are designed to provide a level playing field. For this reason, our guys – who have all done a fantastic job – were prevented from being able to fight for the positions they deserved all weekend. The organisers, Dorna and the FIM, understand the situation and we strongly expect them to make changes before the next race.”
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.