BULEGA VS DEBISE: the #11 smashes lap record as he denies Debise home pole

Saturday, 9 September 2023 09:09 GMT

Championship leader Nicolo Bulega added to his pole tally despite Valentin Debise’s efforts as they both went under the previous lap record

It was a record-breaking Tissot Superpole session for the FIM Supersport World Championship as Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) claimed his seventh pole in the Championship after he obliterated the existing lap record at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. Bulega’s incredible pace meant he denied Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) an emotional maiden pole position on home soil at the Pirelli French Round with the #94 continuing his strong form from Friday.

BATTLE FOR POLE: Bulega and Debise go head-to-head

Friday pacesetter Debise continued his form at the start of the Tissot Superpole session as he set the fastest lap of the weekend with a 1’40.905s, initially six tenths clear of his rivals, before Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) closed the gap. Championship leader Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) was fastest of all in the first three sectors before losing ground in the fourth as he set a 1’40.945s for second; three tenths down on Debise as the #94 set a 1’40.639s. However, on his second flying lap, Bulega went 0.394s quicker than Debise to smash the lap record and move into provisional pole, four tenths clear of his rivals.

At the halfway stage of the session, the red flags were deployed after an incident involving Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) at Turn 13, with both riders able to walk away from the crash; Oncu took 21st on the grid on his return from injury with Kofler 30th. With the session resuming, Debise immediately closed the gap to just 0.003s behind the Ducati rider in an epic fight for pole. The #11 improved on his penultimate flying lap to 1’40.074s as he extended his gap and edged closer to the 1’39s bracket as he secured his seventh pole position. Debise will line up from second place after taking his best ever Superpole result and his first front row, while Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) claimed third after a late improvement to a 1’40.366s. Bulega’s pole position also secured him the Tissot Superpole Award for 2023.

IN CONTENTION: can Manzi stop Bulega when racing begins?

Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) posted a 1’40.398s to take fourth as he looks to fight for victory and close the gap on Bulega in the Championship standings, with Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) in fifth after he, like De Rosa, put in a late lap so surge up the orders. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was the lead Kawasaki rider on the grid as the #99 claimed sixth place, just over half a second down on Bulega’s new lap record.

13 RIDERS IN ONE SECOND: an unpredictable race in store

Finland’s Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph), who took pole position here in 2017, took seventh as he lapped 0.628s slower than the #11, while Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) ensured five of the six manufacturers on the grid were in the top ten, with rookie Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) in ninth. The Italian had been in the top three at points during the 20-minute session but fell down the order despite an impressive session. Home hero Andy Verdoia (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) rounded out the top ten, just 0.004s behind Dalla Porta. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) was 11th with rookie Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in 12th. The returning Simon Jespersen (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) claimed 13th and was the last rider within a second of Bulega’s time.

HOUSEKEEPING: to note from Superpole

Andreas Kofler’s (D34G Racing) Superpole session got off to a disappointing start when he had an issue on his outlap, with the Austrian able to re-join the session around the halfway point. He qualified 24th.

The top six from WorldSSP Superpole, full results here:

1. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) 1’40.074

2. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +0.174s

3. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) +0.292s

4. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.324s

5. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.458s

6. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +0.566s

Watch Race 1 LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED from 15:15 Local Time (GMT+2) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!