Top 10: Surprising stories in 2020’s unique WorldSSP season

Thursday, 22 October 2020 09:05 GMT

From Locatelli’s domination to freak weather, the youngest ever winner and rookie consistency elsewhere, 2020 was full of surprises in a power-packed, truncated season

The off-season is already upon the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and the FIM Supersport World Championship, giving the paddocks time to digest the incredibly unique and quite quirky 2020 season. Full of ups and downs, emotions and revelations, it was a year like no other. However, in WorldSSP, patterns still emerged and there were various surprises throughout the field.

10.) Puccetti’s charge to the best of the rest

2020’s been a season dominated by Andrea Locatelli (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) but next up in the Championship were Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and rookie teammate Philipp Oettl. The Frenchman and the German made sure the team had at least one bike on the podium from Teruel Race 2, took a double podium in Catalunya Race 2 as well as the Teams’ Championship.

9.) Catalunya Race 1’s madness

In the middle of September, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Barcelona would be sunny, but Catalonia’s capital was anything but on Saturday afternoon for the WorldSSP Race 1. A mid-race down-pour saw riders stay out on slicks before pitting last minute for wet tyres in the lashing rain; a timely Red Flag saw Andy Verdoïa (bLU cRU WorldSSP by MS Racing) take a shock win. Craziness.

8.) Building his Webb: welcome back, Danny!

One of the unknown quantities before 2020, Danny Webb (WEPOL Racing Team) and team manager James Toseland worked together to steadily chip away at results throughout the year. A top ten out the box in Race 1 at Phillip Island, eight more would follow with a best of eighth on two occasions putting him eleventh overall. Watch for Webb in the future, he has solid foundations to build on.

7.) Odendaal was the quiet rookie in 2020

One of many riders to joining from the MotoGP™ paddock, Steven Odendaal (EAB Ten Kate Racing) may not have been an outstanding performer through 2020 but his sheer consistency bagged him fifth overall at the final round as his rivals tumbled around him. He also puts South Africa back in the top five in the end of year standing for the first time since Sheridan Morais was fourth in 2017.

6.) Philipp Oettl’s quick adaptation

Like Odendaal, Philipp Oettl’s 2020 year as a rookie was quietly impressive. Joining the Puccetti team and hoping to be battling at the front, Oettl achieved four podiums across the year and came good right at the final round to pinch third in the world from Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) right in the last race. So far, he’s the highest finishing rider in WorldSSP to stay in the class; can he succeed further?

5.) Superb Soomer

Five top ten finishes in the first five races, Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) wasn’t doing too badly straight off. However, a disaster set of Aragon races put him on the backfoot. The Baltic Bullet was resilient however and in the last four races, took three podiums on the bounce. Just 21 points from the top five, it was a welcome return to form to end the season on for Estonia’s finest rider.

4.) Super sub Smith

So, from a superb Soomer to a sensational Kyle Smith, WorldSSP’s closing stages of 2020 really had it all. Filling in for the injured Jules Cluzel, Kyle Smith took the GMT94 Yamaha to the podium in his first race in a soaking wet Catalunya and was even leading at one point. Then, he gave the French team a home rostrum with second in Race 2 at Magny-Cours. Just how is he without a full-time ride?

3.) Gonzalez’s stunning step-up

2019 WorldSSP 300 Champion Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) didn’t just step up, he grew up in 2020. The youngest ever World Champion, a rookie in 2020 in World Supersport, finished every single race, all of which were inside the top ten, rarely crashed and was top Spaniard at the end of the Championship in seventh. If he continues to grow in stature in 2021, he’s a real threat.

2.) Verdoïa’s 15 minutes of fame

Not only was this the most surprising win of 2020 but it’s inside the top three of the shock wins in World Supersport history. Staying out on slicks in the pouring rain of Catalunya whilst everyone else pitted, he crossed the line first and then, as if by magic, the Red Flag was shown. A historic win meant he was the youngest winner in the class’ history, even if it was his only top ten of the year.

1.) The Andrea Locatelli show…

What 2020 just saw in WorldSSP was the greatest season ever put together by a rider who was a class above the rest. 12 wins from 15 races, Andrea Locatelli took the record for most wins in a year – of which ten were consecutive – whilst becoming a rookie WorldSSP Champion and the first from Italy. Breath-taking. And NOBODY could’ve, would’ve or should’ve predicted it. Outrageous.

Relive all the action from 2020 and look forward to 2021 with the WorldSBK VideoPass!