It was a busy two races for the rookie German, as he took KTM from Superpole lows to race highs
The 2022 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship is shaping up to be another spectacular season of hard fighting, new winners and incredibly close racing. The opening round of the season at the MotorLand Aragon circuit in Alcaniz certainly didn’t disappoint, with Marc Garcia (Yamaha MS Racing) returning to winning ways in Race 1, whilst it was a career first win for Alvaro Diaz (Arco Motor University Team) in Race 2. However, there was another heroic story across both races, and that was 16-year-old Lennox Lehmann’s (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) sensational double podium… after he qualified in 25th on the grid.
STRONG START, BAD LUCK, BIG COMEBACK: Friday form, Superpole slump, Race 1 revelation
Lehmann had demonstrated strong pace all weekend and was in the leading positions after Friday’s Free Practice came to a close, ranking fifth overall and running as high as third in the morning. However, Superpole would cost the German teenager, as he crashed at Turn 15 at the start of the session. He did get back out and put a lap time in at the end, but this left him mired in 25th position. It was always going to be an uphill struggle from that moment on.
Or was it? Race 1 saw Lehmann put in a blistering opening lap as he was already up to 14th and in the points-scoring positions aboard his KTM RC 390 R. On Lap 2, he was up into ninth and by this point, already in the battle for the podium, as Marc Garcia and Alvaro Diaz broke away at the front. By Lap 8, he was third and despite dropping back to sixth with two laps to go, Lehmann rallied and took the final place on the podium, capping off what was a magnificent ride.
REPEAT PERFORMANCE: this time even more dramatic…
However, surely, he couldn’t do it again? Alex Millan (SMW Racing) was declared unfit, bumping Lehmann up to 24th on the grid, giving him an eighth row start as opposed to a ninth row start… whatever difference that makes. However, Lehmann proved that in fact, he could repeat his Race 1 performance. 17th after Lap 1, he was 14th on Lap 2, but then dropped back again to 16th. It wasn’t until Lap 8 of 12 that he broke into the top ten. However, going into the last lap, he was 11th, but somehow fought his way through the field to take third place, slipstreaming his way ahead of four riders into Turn 16, crossing the line in third to clinch another podium. A sensational effort, making us all wonder what he could do if he’d not crashed in Superpole.
Speaking about the podiums after Race 2 on Sunday, Lehmann was elated: “Our goal was to finish in the points which we did… twice on the podium! Race 2 was harder than Race 1 for me, I couldn’t really overtake at the beginning in the straight. The last lap was great, and I had a great feeling with the bike, I overtake the guys on the straight and I finished third again. The Superpole was terrible… I crashed with very little time left, got back to the box and went out again on my own, and I didn’t really have the pace to do that so had to start from 25th. In Race 2, there were some collisions with other riders which cost me some positions and of course, I made some mistakes. In the end, the last two or three laps were good for me, and I could get back the positions!”
STATS: Lehmann’s double podium in the history books
After Race 1, Lehmann became the third-youngest rider to achieve a podium in the class at 16 years, four months and 12 days, behind Manuel Gonzalez at Misano in 2018 (15 years, 11 months and four days) and Unai Orradre at Jerez in 2020 (16 years, three months and 23 days). He’s the only rider in WorldSSP300 to achieve two podiums from outside the top 20, whilst his podium from 25th in Saturday’s Race 1 was the lowest a rider has come from to get a podium since Scott Deroue from 29th to 2nd in Barcelona’s Race 2, 2020. For KTM, he becomes the manufacturers’ first rider to achieve more than one podium in WorldSSP300, whilst giving them back-to-back podiums at the start of the season for the first time since 2018.
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