The two title contenders will be alongside each other for both WorldSSP races this weekend as Champion-elect Nicolo Bulega took another pole position
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) made it nine poles in the 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship campaign as he beat title rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) to top spot at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. The #11 also broke the all-time lap record at the ‘rollercoaster’ by 0.296s on his way to pole as he looks to wrap up the World Championship title during the Pirelli Portuguese Round.
NEW LAP RECORD: Bulega beats Manzi to pole
Bulega was the fastest rider in the first stint after he set a 1’43.132s to lead the field by four tenths ahead of Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) whose impressive Portuguese Round continued on Saturday morning. On his first lap of his second run, the #11 found another four tenths to smash the lap record with a 1’42.769s right before the red flags were shown with just over three minutes remaining in the session when Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) crashed at Turn 13. With the time remaining, riders were able to set another flying lap when the session resumed although no one was able to challenge Bulega’s time. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) was able to move from fifth to second and narrow the gap to Bulega to around half-a-second. The Italian’s pole means he’s on nine for the year, only one behind the season-best tally of 10, held by Cal Crutchlow and Sebastien Charpentier, with one round remaining this season. It’ll be an all-Italian front row for the sixth time this season with Bulega and Manzi joined by Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) with 0.735s separating the top three. Italian riders are on course to have pole position at every round this year, having taken the first 11 of the season.
A STRONG WEEKEND SO FAR: Navarro hits form, Edwards on top in WorldSSP Challenge
Navarro finished in fourth, for his best Superpole result, and missed out on a front row start by tiny margins with Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) directly behind. Montella, Navarro and Debise were separated by just 0.053s at the end of the 20-minute session. Tom Edwards (Yart – Yamaha WorldSSP Team) impressed in Superpole again as he took sixth for a second row start and finishing as the highest placed WorldSSP Challenge rider. His rival for that title, Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing), will start from 13th.
BACK IN THE TOP TEN: Oncu takes best grid position since comeback from injury
Rookie Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) tried to overhaul the Australian ahead of him but fell less than a tenth short, while Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was eighth. The Dutchman crashed at Turn 8 in the opening stages of Superpole but was able to respond to take a third row start ahead of Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). The Turkish star is continuing to work his way up to full fitness following an arm injury and took his first top-ten finish since his comeback started at Magny-Cours, Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) completed the top ten and lapped just over a second slower than Bulega.
The top six from WorldSSP Superpole, full results here:
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) 1’42.769s
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.523s
3. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.735s
4. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.772s
5. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +0.784s
6. Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) +0.880s
Watch WorldSSP Race 1 from 15:15 Local Time (GMT+1) using the WorldSBK VideoPass – only €9.99!