At the age of 19, the Czech Oliver König was the first driver to switch directly from the Supersport 300 class to the Superbike World Championship, making him the youngest on the starting line-up in 2022.
Oliver König made his World Superbike debut at the 2021 season finale in Indonesia at the end of November. The 19-year-old Czech was called up as a replacement by the Pedercini Kawasaki team; he only had rudimentary experience with a 1000cc motorcycle.
In 2019, 2020 and 2021 König started in the Supersport 300 World Championship, third place in Most in the previous year is his best result. The Prague-based man achieved a single-digit result five times, finishing in 28th, 31st and 11th in the overall standings. The youngster gained his first experience on a superbike at the Endurance World Championships in Most and in the Alpe Adria Cup. Before his SBK deployment on Lombok, he had not had a test with the ZX-10RR. So it was not surprising that he did not uproot any trees.
In the first free practice session, König fell and failed to cross the 107 percent hurdle, 8.2 seconds behind the fastest time. Up to FP3, the 19-year-old reduced his deficit significantly to 3.5 seconds, in Superpole he was still 3 seconds short. That meant he was still last, but was only 0.6 seconds behind the disappointing Tito Rabat (Puccetti Kawasaki) .
In the first race, König fell on the slightly damp track on lap 2 in 15th place. Because he hit his head in the process, he was banned from the second run.
Despite the sobering weekend, it was clear to König: He wants to compete in the Superbike World Championship in the future. Together with his manager Milos Cihak, himself a former racing driver and now part of the MIE Honda team with close business ties with Midori Moriwaki, König was looking for opportunities.
His name kept coming up in connection with the Kawasaki teams Pedercini and Orelac. During the Christmas season it was heard from the Czech Republic that Pedercini was off the table. It has now leaked out that a press conference has been scheduled for January 20th in the king’s native city of Prague. One of them is Jan Stovicek, President of the Czech association ACCR. This suggests that not only Filip Salac will receive financial support in the Moto2 World Cup in 2022, but also König.
Oliver König will compete for the Superbike World Championship team Orelac Kawasaki next season! At the age of 19, he will not only be the youngest participant, but also the first to climb straight from the Supersport 300 World Championship to the premier class. And he is only the fifth Czech starter in the Superbike World Championship. We last saw Ondrej Jezek in 2018, but he didn’t finish the season at that time.
Most starts by Czech drivers:
Jakub Smrz, 158 races
Jiri Mrkyvka 133
Ondrej Jezek 38
Karel Abraham 24
Jiri Drazdak 17th
Most of the points:
Jakub Smrz 684.5
Karel Abraham 33
Ondrej Jezek 24
Jiri Mrkyvka 23
Karel Hanika 5
Team and driver list Superbike World Championship 2022:
Aruba.it Ducati: Michael Rinaldi (I), Alvaro Bautista (E)
Barni Spark Ducati: Luca Bernardi (I)
Motocorsa Ducati: Axel Bassani (I)
Go Eleven Ducati: Philipp Öttl (D)
Honda Racing Corporation: Iker Lecuona (E), Xavier Vierge (E)
MIE Honda: Tati Mercado (RA), Hafizh Syahrin (MAL)
BMW motorcycle: Michael van der Mark (NL), Scott Redding (GB)
Bonovo action BMW: Eugene Laverty (IRL), Loris Baz (F)
Kawasaki Racing Team: Jonathan Rea (GB), Alex Lowes (GB)
Puccetti Kawasaki: Lucas Mahias (F)
Orelac VerdNatura Kawasaki: Oliver König (CZ), Sykes?
Outdo Pedercini Kawasaki: Loris Cresson (B), Sykes?
Pata Yamaha: Toprak Razgatlioglu (TR), Andrea Locatelli (I)
GRT Yamaha: Kohta Nozane (J), Garrett Gerloff (USA)
Gil Motor Sport Yamaha: Christophe Ponsson (F)
BOLD = confirmed