James starts WSSP300 season with solid performance at Motorland
James McManus’ 2021 season commenced last weekend with a successful trip to Motorland Aragon in Spain. In the opening round of the World Supersport 300 class James finished 36th in race one and and 30th in race two.
Although James had a pre-season test at this track it was his first competitive race weekend at Aragon. The circuit with its famous stone wall is just outside the town of Alcaniz in Aragon, Spain. Whilst the weekend started off dry the riders had to deal with a wet warm up for the race on Sunday and then a late tyre choice for the second race itself.
This is the fifth year of the WSSP300 Championship and there have been some changes. The organisers have done away with splitting the field into two qualifying groups and free practice three has been scrapped. The new format to WSSP300 this year means the riders get just two free practice sessions with both being on the Friday. McManus managed to set a lap time of 2:12.520 in the early morning session.
The track temperature had risen from 28 degrees in the morning to 48 degrees by the afternoon session. This meant grip levels were far lower and few riders managed to get near their FP1 lap times. Despite a small off at turn five during the session he managed a 2:12.791 almost matching his FP1 lap time.
On Saturday morning the riders went out for their qualifying session. The number 14 was one of 44 bikes competing in the 20-minute session for grid position. Despite the circuit being 3.2 miles (5.1 km) long getting clear track and the help of a tow can prove difficult. James continued his progress reducing his lap time further to a211.717 qualifying 39th for the two races this weekend.
The first 12 lap race took part on Saturday lunchtime. James made a good start making up several places off the line but he was forced wide at turn five. The result was he lost the early gains he had made. James managed to better his qualifying lap time during the race with a 2.11.650 as he grew in confidence throughout. The race was brought to an early finish as the red flag came out with three laps to go. He crossed the line in 36th position.
The team were happy with James’ improvement over the weekend and only made minor changes to the bike for the second race of the weekend. The track was now nearly dry after earlier rain fall. With Scott Redding’s gamble to race slicks paying off in the Superbike race just before the WSSP300 one, the riders all opted for dry tyres.
James started 38th but quickly made up a couple of positions in the opening lap. He fought a 12-lap race-long battle with a couple of other riders. Positions changed regularly although the number 14 spent a number of laps leading this group. At the flag he crossed the line in a very respectable 30th position.
James said,” This weekend was a big learning curve for me. It was my first full world championship race weekend. I learnt a lot and gained more experience and am ready to move onto round 2 for us at Misano and go again. I would like to thank all my sponsors for their support.”
The next World Supersport round for James is at Misano on 11-13th June 2021.