South African rider Odendaal secured his best WorldSSP result in Portimao after fighting back from 10th on the grid
FIM Supersport World Championship actioned continued to thrill throughout the Motul Portuguese Round with Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing) securing his best WorldSSP result with fourth place, with the South African rider believing he could have made the podium with a better qualifying result at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve.
Odendaal, who previously competed in Moto2™ before making the switch to WorldSSP with the Ten Kate Racing outfit, had qualified inside the top 10 for both races in Portugal before finishing eighth in Race 1. The 27-year-old showed excellent pace throughout Race 2 and took advantage of a good start to battle his way through the field; a big moment on Lap 2 costing him positions but not a strong result.
Despite finishing Race 2 in fourth place, Odendaal believes he had the pace to fight for a podium had he started the race higher than 10th, having run at a similar pace to Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) and Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), who finished second and third in Race 2, behind race winner Andrea Locatelli (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team).
Odendaal said: “We finished the weekend off on a high note with a fourth position in the second race. I had a great start; I was up to 7th from 10th on the grid but on the second lap I had a huge moment. I was lucky to stay on board, but it cost me a couple of positions. I felt really comfortable on the bike and got into a good rhythm, climbing up through the field.
“When I got into fourth half way through the 17-lap race, I was able to break away from the group behind me straight away and I saw on my pit board that I was closing on Isaac Viñales in third, however, the gap was just too difficult to close. I knew the team would appreciate a solid result to end the weekend, so I decided to settle for fourth. We were doing the same lap times as the guys in second and third, which proves that we could have been on the podium if we qualified better on Saturday – this is something we need to focus on going forward.
“We worked really hard with the team throughout the weekend to identify a problem which held us back at the beginning of the weekend and in the first race and we made a big step forward in Race 2. I enjoyed riding my R6 and we were competitive. I am really looking forward to the next race in Aragon (end of August) to confirm that we are going in the right direction to secure our first podium. Huge thanks to my team for all their hard work this weekend.”
You can follow more thrilling WorldSSP action with the WorldSBK VideoPass!