One of the riders who have surprised the most in 2018 World Supersport 300 Championship is Galang Hendra Pratama.
The Indonesian sensation debuted in WorldSSP300 last year in Portimao, where he scored a remarkable top 10 result in Superpole before being stopped by a technical issue during the race. It was just the beginning, because one month later Hendra Pratama did one more wildcard appearance in Jerez de la Frontera. There his talent definitely stood out, as the lad from Jakarta scored an amazing win after an exciting race.
The great result scored at Jerez led to the involvement of Hendra Pratama in Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, and so to his participation in World Supersport 300 witht he backing of Yamaha Europe and Indonesia. The start was very difficult, since Kawasaki 400 and KTM RC390R proved to have more power than Yamaha R3, but the regulation improved a lot from Brno round and this enabled Hendra Pratama to score an amazing win on the Czech track, where he dominated all the sessions and won the race with 5 seconds of advantage on Walid Khan.
We interviewed Hendra Pratama ahead of the final two rounds of 2018, which are to be hosted in Portimao (Portugal) and Magny Cours (France) during September.
Tell us about your win in Brno. Did you expect it?
No, I really didn’t expect to win in Brno, because that circuit has a very long straight and many fast corners and Yamaha still suffers in top speed. By the way, we found the best setup for engine, gearing and suspensions already in FP1 and this made me remain in the front at every session. About the race, sometimes I made mistakes in some corners, but then I recovered by going faster in other corners…Finally the win came and I’m very happy for this result.
Do you think you can win again in this season?
I hope so, but my goal remains to score podium finishes. My goal is to end the season in top 3 and I will do my best to make it happen.
As we know, this year there are four different bikes racing in World Supersport 300: Yamaha R3 (320cc), Kawasaki Ninja 400, KTM RC390R and Honda CBR500R. Dorna tried to balance the performance of such different bikes by changing rpm and minimum weight limits almost at every race. What do you think of it?
For me it’s strange, because this is World Championship and not a national championship or a fun race, so things like that shouldn’t happen. Anyway, the regulation has improved a lot since the beginning of the season (when only Kawasaki and KTM riders fought for the win, ed) and I want to say thank you to Dorna for what they’ve done to solve the problem.
Do you prefer last year’s win in Jerez or this year’s one in Brno?
The one in Brno, because I won against bikes, which are faster than mine. The regulation is much better now, as I previously said, but Kawasaki and KTM are still very very fast…
Before coming to World Supersport 300, you raced in Asia Production 250 (AP250). What can you tell us about this championship?
The Yamaha I rode in AP250 is similar to Yamaha R3, but the regulation is totally different. There you can open the engine and modify parts such as the camshaft and, furthermore, the rpm limit is open. I think AP250 is a good step before coming to WorldSSP300, because there are big fights for the win and tracks like Buriram and Suzuka are similar to the European ones.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
I don’t know yet. Currently I focus just on finishing this season on a high.
In conclusion, you attended twice VR46 Master Camp. How important was this experience?
It was very important for me, because I trained a lot with VR46 riders and even with Valentino Rossi. This helped me a lot in improving as a rider and there I learnt a lot about technique and how to keep the right mentality for races. It was an amazing experience and I’m grateful for such opportunity.