Cortese blows open WorldSSP title race with stunning UK win

Sunday, 27 May 2018 11:26 GMT

Kallio Racing rider and Cluzel new WorldSSP top-2 after action-packed Donington race

Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) took the second win of his FIM Supersport World Championship career with a cool, controlled ride in his first venture to Donington Park in nine years. The German shot up to second at the start, and after taking the lead one third into the race managed to defend his lead professionally to the checkered flag in a three-way battle with Jules Cluzel (NRT) and Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag), second and third.

The race start saw Cluzel shoot off into the lead from pole, building a 0.7 gap with Cortese by lap 1. Defending champion Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) fell to fourth, with De Rosa making the best of the inside line and climbing to third.

After Hiraki Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) crashed out 5 laps in, two packs of three led the race action. Cortese found the moment to attack in lap 8, his one aggressive move through all 20 laps. The German found a gap at Coppice Corner with Cluzel going wide, and sliced in like a hot knife through butter, taking the inside line and rubbing shoulders with the NRT rider. Pushing forward, there was no stopping Cortese with an open track ahead.

De Rosa took advantage of the pair’s squabbles, closing the small gap and setting up a thrilling second half of the race. His moment to push came with five laps to go, pushing up to second over Cluzel after a mistake from the Frenchman. But with one to go, Cluzel struck back, taking another 20 points and confirming that he’s a hot favourite for the title. De Rosa, meanwhile, scores his third consecutive third-place finish, an astonishing feat for the MV Agusta in a Yamaha-heavy top end.

The two WorldSSP leaders up to this point led another stunning battle, but not quite as high up the field as they might have preferred. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) won this duel the hard way, passing Mahias first at the Old Hairpin, falling back 10 laps later after a huge, race-threatening wobble, before pushing behind the Frenchman again with a lap to go. Fourth and fifth for the pair, respectively, who now fall to third and fourth in the championship, behind the Donington top-2.

Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) struggled to keep up with the leading pace from a seventh position start, and with his sixth place at Donington falls behind in the championship standings.

Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was the best of the rest at the UK Round, meeting the flag in seventh position, with Thomas Gradinger (NRT) in eighth. Sheridan Morais (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), returning to racing action at Donington, also made it into the top-ten in ninth, with Andrew Irwin (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) the first of the home riders here at Donington, in tenth.

Somehow the WorldSSP title race is even tighter after the Prosecco DOC UK Round! What surprises will Brno throw into the mix? Find out in two weeks’ time at the Acerbis Czech Round, with all the action available thanks to the WorldSBK VideoPass.