Rob Hartog (Team Hartog - Against Cancer) finished up a hot and heady Italian Round with an outstanding 11th place finish for the FIM World Supersport Class in Imola at the weekend.
The Dutch native was to start Sunday's World Supersport race from the second row on the grid after a well crafted Superpole 2 qualification during unpredictable weather conditions. From fifth place, Hartog had an excellent start and had already jumped ahead one place into P4 as the race entered the first corner. After a long fought battle amongst the top-five, Hartog retained the pace until the mid-pack pushed up the tempo in the final laps and Team Hartog - Against Cancer's rider met the chequered flag in P11.
Rob Hartog scored a 12th fastest time on Friday after two Free Practice Sessions; missing out on moving directly into Superpole 2 by just two-tenths. On Saturday morning, the Kawasaki rider had some concerns with engine adjustments and did not complete a quality third Free Practice on the Italian Circuit. However, modifications made in time for Superpole 1 Qualification meant that Hartog regained his confidence on the Kawasaki ZX-6R with Front Row Components. Settling back into the robust pace set by intense competition, Hartog's lap time rocketed the young rider to second place in the session and enabled a move through into Superpole 2 for the second time this year.
The second part of Saturday's qualification became an intense waiting game, as rain left riders undecided over track conditions. Requiring a well-placed sprint very early in the session, Hartog flew through his second lap to land in P5 overall. During lap three rain began at the circuit in earnest, and meant that the cool-headed rider had successfully earned his career-best start position for Sunday's main event.
Having now scored Championship points for the third time this season, Hartog remains undefeated in the FIM Europe Supersport Cup. With another five points to his name, the 26-year-old from Abbekerk sits comfortably in 12th place overall within the World Championship standings and is already 15 points ahead of the FIM Europe Supersport Cup number two rider. In two weeks we come to the mid-way point of this thrilling 2018 season - with the next round to be held at Donington Park, United Kingdom.
Rob Hartog: "I tried to make a good start to the race, and I knew I succeeded because I was fourth into the first corner. But I also knew that front runners would be faster, so I tried to get into my own rhythm. Until the middle of the race it went well and I fought for fifth place. In the final phase I unfortunately could not keep my pace and dropped to eleventh. Overall we can be satisfied with the weekend. We have shown that the speed is there, and we have got great results in the European Championship!"
A fantastic weekend for Rob Hartog (Team Hartog - Against Cancer) saw the rider from the Netherlands send his Kawasaki ZX-6R to an impressive top ten finish in the FIM World Supersport race at the TT Circuit Assen. Round two also saw Hartog secure back to back victories for the 2018 FIM Europe Supersport Cup.
The rider from Abbekerk started the Dutch race from eleventh on the grid after an intense day of Free Practice and qualification with a ninth fastest time after the Friday sessions -giving him the right to participate directly in Superpole 2. It was a defining session for the young rider, as he clocked his first ever lap in the 1'38s on the Dutch track.
Hartog had another excellent start as the lights went out on Sunday, and was up three places by the first turn. The 26-year-old lost some race pace in an attempt to stick with the six fastest riders, falling back one position as Randy Krummenacher charged to the front. However, he ended the final stages of the 18 lap race well, fighting for eighth with Niki Tuuli and Thomas Gradinger.
Due to a crash amongst riders in the leading group, Hartog fought for sixth in the final stage, and the star from Abbekerk crossed the finish line in eighth to score his best result ever in the World Supersport. After two races, Hartog has already collected fourteen World Supersport points - sitting thirteenth overall for SSP.
Rob Hartog: "I had a good start, and I found the connection early with the fastest seven riders. The first laps were good, but then I struggled to keep my pace. It was a nice, hard fight though. I thought a sixth-place finish would be in my favour during the last lap when I knocked out Tuuli in the GT corner. However, in the second kink, he cut the corner and took back the position. To get my best result ever in my home round though is fantastic! It is great to see how many people are here to support the local riders. I also want to thank the team because we all had a great weekend!"
Finally, the season for Team Hartog - Against Cancer begins, after a heart-stopping opening round in Aragon at the weekend. The north holland native placed 16th on a grid of 28 World Supersport riders - which made the odds of making up more than a few places seemingly insurmountable. However, a solid start off the line was the fuel to Hartog’s fire, and the Dutchman fought from the third corner of lap one with nine other riders straight for the lead.
Five laps into the thrilling 16 lap race, Hartog was only 2.5 seconds off the front-runner and still fighting to cement his spot in the top ten. With an eight position amongst the leading pack, the young Dutch rider managed to maintain his race pace in a group of eight that all drove hard for sixth place.
Finishing Round 1 in tenth place overall, Hartog now takes the advantage on his Kawasaki Ninja as the current leader of the European Supersport Cup Championship after race one with 6 points. The 2018 ESS Cup rides again in conjunction with the FIM World Supersport rounds, where it is already the third race of the season.
Last year Rob Hartog's season started on the Aragon circuit, with the Kawasaki rider scoring a neat twelfth place - but he also had the luck with a number of dropouts. This year, after four days of productive testing in the off-season, Rob Hartog began the weekend at Motorland Aragon with plenty of confidence.
Friday Free Practice 2 saw Hartog only 0.02 off going directly into Superpole 2. However, the eleventh placing lap time still put him in a top spot for Superpole 1. The 26-year-old rider managed to improve his time by three tenths in the session overall and put Hartog as fastest in the FIM Europe Supersport Cup after free practice and qualifying.
It will be Round 2 to remember as the rider from Abbekerk finds his rhythm, and the thrill of the World Supersport competition continues next Sunday (April 22) with a home race at the TT Circuit Assen!
Rob Hartog: "My start was great, and I had already moved into ninth place after the first lap. I was then able to settle well within the group of the top ten and was on the hunt to grab a few positions. Halfway through the race though, I was overtaken by three riders and lost the connection to the middle pack. In the end, I was just short of winning some more positions, but this tenth place is a great start of the season! The team has worked incredibly well, and we are already looking forward to Assen!"
Robin Duyzers (Crew Chief): "The new formation of the team worked very well. Rob made no mistakes, and the atmosphere in the team is great. Everyone worked hard for these results in race 1, and the result proves this. With two new mechanics, who have done their job well, it puts the team in a great position. The team are living for the next race weekend!"
As Rnd 3 of WorldSSP brings the competition to Europe, the Dutchman sets his ducks in a row
The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season will join the Europe circuit in April, as round 3 for 2018 kicks off in MotorLand Aragon, Spain. It also marks the beginning of the combined European Supersport Cup. 2017 runner-up to the ESS crown was Rob Hartog (Team Hartog - Against Cancer), and Netherland's young gun is fully prepared for his next challenge.
The racer from Abbekerk finished last season 10 points ahead of third-placed Italian, Alessandro Zaccone. However, one point stood between Hartog and top honours, with Estonian rider Hannes Soomer crowned the 2017 FIM Europe Supersport Cup champion. As Soomer (Team Racedays) has now made his move to a full-time spot in the World Supersport class, it puts Hartog in hot contention for taking this year's prize.
Full grids and fierce competition are continually upping the ante on earnest track action between European contenders interested in the title. However, the North Holland native has already scored multiple top 10 finishes amongst the World Supersport class, and 2018 will be no exception. On the number 47 Kawasaki Ninja 600, Hartog has the advantage of strong local support; the Dutch are eager to see more riders on the World podium.
Previously decided in Jerez, the 2018 European Supersport Cup will now wrap-up on September 30 at Round 11 of the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship in France - just before the World Championship leaves the EU for the more exotic racing locations of Argentina and Qatar. 2018 will be the 27th year a WorldSBK event has visited the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours since racing commenced in the French province circa 1991.
Opened in 2009, MotorLand Aragon is a state of the art road racing circuit, and all eyes will be on Hartog when the European SuperSport Cup commences April 13. To follow the progress: www.robhartog.com
Rob Hartog, Rider, Team Hartog - Against Cancer : "After missing the ESS title on one point last year, we are more eager than ever to get going with the new season. We have had some great tests in the pre-season. It is going to be our second year on the WorldSSP Kawasaki, so we feel we know the bike now, and that gives us a lot of confidence for the start of the season!"
Robin Duyzers, Crew Chief, Team Hartog - Against Cancer : "There are some new faces in Team Hartog this year, but the enthusiasm is there, and the atmosphere is excellent. Rob was determined during testing to reach race pace as quickly as possible - plus he listens and works hard to understand the bike. As a rider who is very smooth, along with Kawasaki's advantage on corner entry, from a technical point of view, it is the best we can hope for to build speed and confidence during races."