Baldassarri claims thrilling debut WorldSSP victory despite last corner drama in Aegerter battle

Saturday, 9 April 2022 14:22 GMT

The pair could not be separated throughout the race and it all came down to a last corner save from Baldassarri as he just held on for victory

The new era of the FIM Supersport World Championship got underway with a titanic battle at the front of the field at MotorLand Aragon as Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) pulled off a scarcely-believable save at the final corner of the final lap to claim a stunning maiden victory in Race 1 of the Pirelli Aragon Round.

FIGHT AT THE FRONT: Aegerter vs Baldassarri… after overhauling Oncu

In the early stages of the race, Turkish rider Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) broke away from the chasing pack and had a gap of around one second before Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) and rookie Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) were able to overhaul him.

After passing the Turkish star, both Aegerter and Baldassarri were able to pull out a gap for themselves over Oncu despite fighting each other for first place throughout the 15-lap race, with the pair passing each other constantly throughout. Aegerter got ahead on Lap 10 before Baldassarri responded into the double left-hander of Turn 16/17. On Lap 14, Baldassarri re-took the lead after passing Aegerter through Turn 2 before the Swiss rider responded.

The last lap was full of drama as Aegerter made a mistake through Turns 14 and 15, allowing Baldassarri through, before using the slipstream to close back up on the Italian. Baldassarri led into the corner but had to pull off a miraculous save after almost losing the front of his bike, with Aegerter on the outside having to stay on his machine after contact between the pair. Baldassarri was able to stand his bike up through the final corner to hold on to the win, with Aegerter in second place.

Baldassarri became just the seventh rider to win on their debut with victory, which was by just a 0.239s margin, as he claimed Italy’s 37th victory in WorldSSP and the country’s 115th podium. Second place for Aegerter was his 17th podium in WorldSSP as the reigning Champion started the season with a podium, while Oncu claimed his fourth podium in WorldSSP.

SHOCKS IN THE TOP TEN: dramatic start to the new era

Dutchman Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) had his best WorldSSP result to date with fourth place as he continued his strong pace throughout the Aragon Round, finishing more than two seconds clear of rookie Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team)  in fifth place as the Ducati Panigale V2 made its WorldSSP debut in Spain.

Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) claimed a top six finish for the new MV Agusta F3 800 RR after a strong showing, just a second away from Bulega. All five manufacturers on the 2022 grid finished inside the top seven as Stefano Manzi (Dynavolt Triumph) claimed seventh place; just a tenth clear of Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) in eighth. Caricasulo had been fighting in the top ground during the early stages of the race before dropping back.

It was a strong debut race for 2021 WorldSSP300 Champion Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) as he claimed a ninth-place finish although he missed out on top rookie honours in Race 1 to Bulega and Manzi. German rider Patrick Hobelsberger (Kallio Racing) rounded out the top ten as he finished seven seconds down on Huertas in ninth.

EIGHT RIDERS, THREE SECONDS: an incredible fight for points

Estonian rider Hannes Soomer (Dynavolt Triumph) claimed 11th place after an incredible fight for the last points-paying positions. Turkish rookie Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was 12th after battling his way up the order from 25th on the grid as he showed his race craft, finishing one second clear of fellow WorldSSP300 graduate Tom Booth-Amos (Prodina Racing WorldSSP). Three of the four riders who moved up from WorldSSP300 to WorldSSP for 2022 scored points in the season-opening race.

Hungary’s Peter Sebestyen (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) claimed points with 14th place as he starts his first full season with the Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team squad, finishing half a second clear of French rider Andy Verdoia (GMT94 Yamaha) who rounded out the points.

It was a case of so near yet so far for Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura WorldSSP) as the Italian claimed 16th place, missing out on points by less than a tenth of a second as he finished behind Verdoia. Swiss rider Marcel Brenner (VFT Racing) dropped down the order as he finished in 17th place, fending off the challenge of Leonardo Taccini (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in 18th.

TO NOTE: housekeeping from WorldSSP

Jules Cluzel’s (GMT94 Yamaha) hopes of a strong result were gone after he ran wide at Turn 1 on Lap 2 of the 15-lap battle, although he was able to battle his way back up to 19th place after dropping almost to the back of the field. Oli Bayliss (BARNI Spark Racing Team) managed 21st on his racing debut in WorldSSP, behind Kyle Smith (VFT Racing), as he held off the challenge from Maximilian Kofler (CM Racing).

Yari Montella (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was the first retirement from WorldSSP Race 1 when he had a highside crash on the exit of Turn 14 from his Kawasaki ZX-6R machine. Jeffrey Buis (Motozoo Racing by Puccetti) retired after two trips onto the tarmac at Turn 16, while Unai Orradre (Yamaha MS Racing) pulled into the pits after suffering technical issues in the early stages of the race. Federico Fuligni (D34G Racing) was declared unfit with a right shoulder contusion and functional impairment after a Tissot Superpole crash.

The top six following WorldSSP Race 1, full results here:

1 Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team)

2. Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.239s

3. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +1.165s

4. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) +6.875s

5. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) +9.092s

6. Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +10.194s

Fastest Lap: Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 1’53.795s New Lap Record

Watch WorldSSP action on Sunday starting with Warm-Up at 09:25 Local Time (GMT+2) and Race 2 at 12:30 using the WorldSBK VideoPass!­