The opening race of the 2017 KTM RC Cup World Final was an epic battle won by Dutchman Glenn van Straalen. After 11 laps of Spain’s Circuito de Velocidad, Jerez, the top nine riders from six different countries were covered by a margin of just 1.8 seconds and the result had to be declared by a photo finish.
The third running of the KTM RC Cup World Final brings the 30 top-tiered riders of the nine KTM RC Cup series from around the world to discover who is the ‘best of the best’ after two point-scoring races on identical specification Cup versions of the popular KTM RC 390.
After two qualifying sessions, it was British RC Cup series runner-up, Jack Nixon, who claimed pole position. His time from Friday’s Qualifying 1 was enough for the 16-year old to front the grid in only his second season of asphalt racing. Nixon was joined on the front row by 15-year old Brian Hart - the first rider to compete in two different KTM RC Cup series in one season – and 15-year old American Cory Ventura, who finished second overall in the MotoAmerica KTM RC Cup series.
RACE 1 (17:56 CET)
The boom of 29 KTM RC 390s powering down the front straight was a new sound for the World Superbike Championship and Nixon took full advantage of his pole position on the no.14 machine to take the early lead. But KTM RC Cup racing – no matter which country it is held in – always provides exceptionally close racing and none more so than the World Final.
With only a few corners run, America’s Drake Beachamp and Alex Dumas from Canada came together. Beauchamp could continue but Dumas was forced to retire. Back at the front, it was almost like a British championship race as the top three from the UK series, Fenton Seabright, Nixon and Hart, traded positions in the opening laps.
It didn’t take long for the lap times to drastically reduce and it became a race with heart-stopping overtakes at every corner and incredibly close slipstreaming as more riders joined the leading group. Malaysia’s Muhammad I. B. Mohd Norrodin, Ventura and van Straalen all took turns to lead in what was always going to be a result destined to go down to the wire.
After qualifying down in 13th place, Max Schmidt, winner of the German KTM RC Cup series, set the fastest time on the sixth lap as he charged through the field to join the leading group. With only 1.5 seconds covering the top nine on the penultimate lap, it was too close to predict a winner.
By the end of the final lap, British champion Seabright looked in control, having regrouped from as far down as seventh. But it wasn’t to be for the 15-year old as he slid out of the lead on the last corner. This allowed van Straalen to lead onto the front straight, slipstreamed by Nixon. The pair took the chequered flag with an identical time and after seven long minutes, race officials confirmed 17-year old Glenn van Straalen as the winner. Schmidt took a hard-fought third, Norrodin in fourth and Hart rounding out the top five.
Race 2 will be held on Sunday October 22 at 16:00 CET and the winner of the 2017 KTM RC Cup World Final will be the rider with the highest number of points from the two races.
KTM RC Cup World Final standings after Race 1 of 2
- Glenn van Straalen #26 (NED) 25 points
- Jack Nixon #14 (GBR) 20 pts
- Max Schmidt #4 (GER) 16 pts
- Muhammad I. B. Mohd Norrodin #8 (MAL) 13 pts
- Brian Hart #29 (BRA) 11 pts
- Cory Ventura #9 (USA) 10 pts
- Aaron Schaefer #12 (GER) 9 pts
- Guus Boes #24 (NED) 8 pts
- Milan Merckelbagh #25 (NED) 7 pts
- Matthew Bower #16 (GBR) 6 pts
- Adolfo Delgado #27 (MEX) 5 pts
- David Kubáň (CZE) 4 pts
- Daniel Cano (MEX) 3 pts
- Benjamin Smith (USA) 2 pts
- Lee Doti #20 (CH) 1 pt