WorldSBK Portimao: Diaz crowned WorldSSP300 Champion| WorldSBK Staff | WorldSBK
Alvaro Diaz needed just one point from the final WorldSSP300 weekend at Portimao to secure his maiden championship, a task he managed with sixth place in race one.
Having already celebrated two victories and eleven podium finishes on the Arco Motor University Team Yamaha R3 across the 2022 season, Diaz became the fifth Spanish 300 class champion with a race in hand.
The weekend, however, was clouded by a dramatic start to Saturday’s action. A red flag brought out after just two laps of the original race left Diaz’ main title rival Victor Steemen (MTM Kawasaki) airlifted to Faro hospital after suffering polytrauma and serious head injuries. The Dutchman was later operated on but remains in a critical condition.
Reduced to eight laps, poleman Dirk Geiger claimed his debut victory in Saturday’s restart with BrCorse’s Mirko Gennai winning Sunday afternoon’s contest from the newly crowned Diaz.
“The race was difficult,” Diaz explained with only one thing on his mind despite taking his maiden title. “Victor Steeman, stay strong and stay with the paddock.
“It was a difficult race but a happy day. I want to thank all my team for the hard work. This title is the result of five years of hard work.
“In the first race, I started thinking that I could achieve the title. It was difficult because the championship is very long. At Assen, I thought I could ‘restart’ the championship with our third position.
“In the last races, Victor was really fast, and he is a very strong rival. Marc Garcia stayed in the lead during the whole season, he was also my rival as a Yamaha rider.”
With the 300 trophy now secured, Diaz confirmed he would be moving up to the Supersport class for 2023.
“Next year, I think I’ll stay with Yamaha because they supported me for five years. I’m very happy with them and with my team. In 2023, I’ll ride in WorldSSP. For me it will be a new adventure, a new adventure and I think I can do well.”