Teenager Oliver Konig lands 2022 WorldSBK leap from WorldSSP 300

Oliver Konig becomes the first rider to compete in WorldSSP 300 to secure a full-time WorldSBK ride for 2022 after signing with Orelac VerdNatura Kawasaki

Isaac Viñales - Orelac Kawasaki

Nineteen-year old Oliver Konig will make a full-time move into the WorldSBK Championship for 2022 after penning a deal to join the Orelac Racing VerdNatura Kawasaki team. 

The Czech Republic teenager will become the first rider to make the leap directly from WorldSSP 300, where he has raced since 2019, replacing Isaac Vinales in the Spanish outfit.

The deal to contest the full season comes after Konig got his first taste of Kawasaki ZX-10RR machinery during the 2021 WorldSBK finale in Indonesia during a stand-in slot for Team Pedercini Racing.

At 20-years old once the 2022 WorldSBK season rolls around for the Aragon opener, he will be the youngest rider signed to the now 23-strong full-time grid.

“What can I say? It’s a dream come true! I don’t believe it still that I have made this move. I am so happy because, after Indonesia where the round was not so good and fun because everybody knows I crashed. 

“The gap was not so bad, I think, for the first time in WorldSBK. Everything was new for me. I’m very happy with this move, with this contract. 

“All I can say is I am so happy, and I thank team Orelac, everybody who believed in and trusted me, and I hope I will do well this season, with some good progress.

“This season will be about learning how to ride this bike, how to work with this bike and how to work with the team. I can’t wait for the first test and also for the first race. I’m just super happy and super excited for the season. 

“Thanks to team Orelac, especially Jose Calero, because I already feel like I’m part of the family. We met with in Valencia with them for one evening and it was such a nice feeling. 

“Super happy for this and cannot wait to start working with my team, and the new era of my life because it will be a big change. Now it’s time to prepare as much as possible for this new era of my racing career.”

Konig’s WorldSSP 300 to WorldSBK jump has shades of Darryn Binder’s leap from Moto3 to MotoGP, since most of his entry-level series rivals tend to progress to WorldSSP instead.

However, the jump means he becomes the first rider to compete in WorldSSP 300 since its inaugural 2017 season to get a WorldSBK deal. He ended the 2021 season 11th overall with a maiden podium achieved on home soil in Most.

With 22 confirmed to start the 2022 WorldSBK Championship, the numbers are one shy of those that signed up full-time for 2021. However, two more bikes are expected to feature still - Gil Motorsport Yamaha with Christophe Ponsson and the spare Pedercini Kawasaki linked to Tom Sykes.

The extra bike on the grid is reflected by MIE Racing adding a second Honda to its line-up for Hafizh Syahrin.