For the first time since San Juan in 2019, Cluzel claimed a WorldSSP victory after withstanding the challenge from all his rivals
The FIM Supersport World Championship race action kicked off on Saturday afternoon at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with a long-awaited return to the top step for Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) over after the Frenchman claimed a hard-fought win in Race 1 for the Motul Portuguese Round, finishing less than half-a-second clear of his nearest rival.
DRAMA FROM THE START
The drama started from the beginning of the 17-lap race with Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) taking to the front of the field at the start of the race before he lost places in the closing stages of the opening lap, with Turkish star Can Öncü (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) briefly taking the lead of the race, before Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) and Cluzel came through.
Aegerter found himself dropped down to fourth place but soon found his way back in the podium places as he passed Öncü for third place. On Lap 6, Öncü found himself bundled down the order into sixth place as Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Corse Clienti) came through, while Gonzalez lost the lead of the race and fell down to fifth behind De Rosa and Tuuli.
BATTLING FOR THE WIN
Aegerter made his move for the lead of the race in Cluzel into Turn 1 at the start of Lap 10 with the Swiss rider looking to add to his already-impressive win tally in his rookie campaign, but just a lap later Aegerter was down in fourth place after losing out to Cluzel, Gonzalez and De Rosa into Turn 1. On Lap 13, Tuuli made his move on Aegerter to demote the Championship leader into fifth, while out in front Gonzalez had re-taken the lead of the race at the expense of Cluzel.
At the start of Lap 14, Tuuli was up into the podium places after a move into Turn 1 as Cluzel made his move onto Gonzalez in the latter stages of Lap 14, with Gonzalez responding despite pressure from Tuuli into Turn 1 on Lap 15. Tuuli dropped back from the podium fight in the closing stages, as did De Rosa, with Cluzel making his move at the start of the final lap before holding in to claim his first victory since San Juan 2019, almost two years later. Such was Cluzel’s pace in the closing stages, the French rider was able to smash the lap record on the final lap of the 17-lap battle as he posted a 1’44.783s.
Gonzalez finished in second place ahead of Aegerter in third; the Swiss rider backing out of a move on Gonzalez in the closing stages of the race to extend his Championship lead over Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team). De Rosa claimed fourth place ahead of Tuuli in fifth, with Odendaal rounding out the top six after closing in on the lead group in the second half of the race.
Randy Krummenacher (CM Racing) had been plagued by technical issues all weekend but the race was a different story for the 2019 Champion as he secured seventh place, ahead of Öncü in eighth place. The Turkish rider was just two tenths clear of teammate Philipp Oettl in ninth place, with debutant Yari Montella (GMT94 Racing) claiming a top ten finish on debut; two tenths back from Oettl.
Montella had more than eight seconds to his advantage of Peter Sebestyen (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team). Sebestyen held off the challenge from Patrick Hobelsberger (Bonovo MGM Action) by just two tenths with the German finishing in 12th place. Estonia’s Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) was 13th, a further three tenths back from Sebestyen, with Federico Caricasulo (Biblion Iberica Yamaha Motoxracing) and Ondrej Vostatek (IXS-YART Yamaha) rounding out the points.
JUST MISSING OUT ON POINTS
The margin of whether Leandro Taccini (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) scored points or not was just 0.014s with the Italian missing out by the smallest of margins, with Taccini having a half-a-second margin over Federico Fuligni (VFT Racing) in 17th; Taccini the highest-placed WorldSSP Challenge rider in Race 1. Maria Herrera (Biblion Iberica Yamaha Motoxracing) claimed 18th place ahead of Marcel Brenner (VFT Racing) and Bill van Eerde (IXS-YART Yamaha) rounding out the top 20.
Finnish rider Vertti Takala (Kallio Racing) was 21st, just 0.170s clear of Indonesia’s Galang Hendra Pratama (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in 22nd place. Hendra Pratama had a clear gap of 14 seconds to his nearest rival behind him, with Stephane Frossard (Moto Team Jura Vitesse) in 23rd. Luigi Montella (Chiodo Moto Racing), Pedro Nuno Romero Barbosa (G.A.P. MOTOZOO Racing by Puccetti) and Unai Orradre (Yamaha MS Racing) rounded out the classified runners; Orradre two laps down after spending some time in the pits in the early stages of the race.
Christoffer Bergman (Wojcik Racing Team) was declared unfit with a left tibia fracture, while Shogo Kawasaki (G.A.P. MOTOZOO Racing by Puccetti) and Aleix Viu (Yamaha MS Racing) did not take part in Race 1. It was an eventful opening couple of laps for David Sanchis Martinez (WRP Wepol Racing Team) as he was given a double Long Lap Penalty for a jump start, before crashing out of the race at Turn 5. The first retirement of the race was Eduardo Montero Huerta (DK Motorsport) with the Spanish rider crashing at Turn 11 on the second lap.
Kevin Manfredi (Altogo Racing Team) had a spectacular end to the race in the early stages of the race, with the Italian looking to retain his WorldSSP Challenge title across the Portuguese Round. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was a late retirement with just a few laps to go due to technical problems at Turn 5.
The top six from WorldSSP Race 1, full results here:
1 Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha)
2. Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) +0.389s
3. Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.565s
4. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) +0.669s
5. Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Corse Clienti) +1.099s
6. Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) +1.486s
Fastest Lap Jules Cluzel (Yamaha) 1’44.783s (New Lap Record)
Watch the WorldSSP action from Portimao on Sunday from 09:25 Local Time (GMT+1) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!