Victory for Steven Odendaal and fifth for Dominique Aegerter meant the gap in the Championship was cut on Sunday in Portimao
The last round of the FIM Supersport World Championship’s triple-header ended at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve for the Motul Portuguese Round with the gap at the top closing from 62 points to 54 points with Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) looking to overhaul current Championship leader Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) over the final two rounds of the season.
Odendaal claimed his first victory since Race 1 at the Autodrom Most on Sunday at the ‘rollercoaster’ gained 14 points on Aegerter after he could only manage fifth place, although he did extend his lead after Race 1 with a podium finish while Odendaal was sixth. The Portuguese Round was the first time this season since the Aragon Round, Aegerter’s first appearance in WorldSSP, that he was winless throughout the weekend.
With 100 points remaining across the final four races of the campaign in Argentina and Indonesia, both riders will know what the task in hand entails for them, with the possibility that Aegerter can clinch the Championship in Argentina due to his current points margin: if he is more than 75 points clear after Race 1 or 50 points clear after Race 2, he will be crowned the 2021 WorldSSP Champion.
Discussing the title fight, Odendaal said: “We still have 100 points to go. I mean, to be honest, we just need to try to have races like today. Take the maximum out of every race we can and just push. Argentina is going to be difficult because not many people have been there but luckily the team have got some good data and we can try to fight our way to the front.”
Aegerter gave his thoughts on Race 2, saying: “I had a good start and was fighting for the victory. It was a big group of about eight riders. The pace was not high because Odendaal’s strategy was to keep the group together. I tried to get in front in order to increase the pace but kept getting passed every time. In the closing stages, I went slightly off track and lost the connection to the group. The goal was to fight for the win, but it didn’t happen this time. We need to find out why. We still have a good lead in the Championship and I’m looking forward to the races in Argentina and Indonesia!”
Odendaal revealed after the race that the team “took a risk” with a drastic change to the bike after the South African went on a five-race podium drought from Magny-Cours Race 2 until Portimao Race 1, before winning Race 2. It meant he was able to close the gap in the Championship to 54 points with four races left.
The South African said: “The whole weekend we were struggling. The bike just didn’t want to turn. The team decided to take a risk to change the setup of the geometry. It worked out. The thing is, we didn’t have time to set up the bike with that geometry change. The bike was better, but we needed Race 1 to improve the bike and Sunday was a much better bike for me to ride and enjoy and fight. That was the key moment.”
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