Both Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders took top ten finishes last time out in France, with Hikari just ahead of his team-mate, and in ninth place. They each aim for even better results this time around, with Hikari chasing at least an eighth place to record his best ride of the season. Barbera has scored tenth in each of his two races so far.
In one important respect this weekend could be the most unpredictable of the whole year. None of the 23 WorldSSP riders who are now converging on the city of San Juan, and the nearby circuit of El Villicum, have competed there before. The venue is entirely new for 2018. With 19 corners crammed into its 4.266km length, a lap of El Villicum is expected to be a particular test of concentration for the WorldSSP regulars.
In the championship standings Hikari is 13th, and former MotoGP rider Barbera already up to 19th, despite most of his rivals having ten opportunities to score points in 2018 compared to Hector’s two.
After the eagerly anticipated Argentinean round the championship will move onto the final venue of Losail, in Qatar. The season culminates on Saturday the 27th of October, under floodlights, as is by now traditional.
Hikari Okubo, stated: “I didn’t feel too happy in the last race because I couldn’t get the kind of good result I wanted. I am really feeling better now. We got some new problems in France last time so we understand that we need to make more of a step. At the next round in Argentina everyone will be a first time rider, so I think it’s a big change. It will be fun to ride a new circuit.”
Hector Barbera stated: “I am really confident that I will be able to make a step forward in Argentina and get better results compared to the last two races at Portimao and Magny Cours. For us, Argentina will be a very important round. The racetrack will be new for everyone so it will be easier for us to understand what level we have reached. The team is working very well and now we have more data to work with. We are getting closer to a bike setup that suits my riding style. Every time I get out on track I learn something new and I improve. I can’t wait to get to the circuit and start working again.”
The importance of the El Villicum round for Argentinean rider Javier Ezequiel Iturrioz (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) is difficult to understate, as he will have extra pressure and huge motivation this weekend. His team-mate Christian Stange will be back in action and Nacho Calero (Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki) is another Kawasaki full season rider aiming for his best result of the year this weekend.
Recent WorldSSP300 podium scoring rider Glenn van Straalen has taken over the WorldSSP ride in the EAB antwest Kawasaki team at this coming round. Rob Hartog (Team Hartog Against Cancer) wrapped up the ESS Championship at the last round and - as he only competes in the European rounds - he will not ride in Argentina.