After briefly losing out on the first lap, Bulega battled back to lead throughout the 18-lap race to claim his third victory of 2023; three manufacturers on the podium
Three different manufacturers stood on the FIM Supersport World Championship podium in Race 1 at the TT Circuit Assen for the Pirelli Dutch Round as Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) claimed victory by more than four seconds ahead of his rivals. Behind Bulega, there was an incredible fight for the podium where one rider was able to claim their first podium in the Championship and another took an emotional home podium.
FIERCE FIGHTS: battling for the rostrum
Bulega started the race from pole position but initially lost out to Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) as the lights went out for the 18-lap race, but he was able to respond on Lap 1 to re-claim the lead. He was under early pressure from Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who quickly recovered from contact with Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) at the start, to move into second place where he could put pressure on Bulega.
Bulega resisted his pressure before starting to pull a gap to Oncu while the Turkish rider dropped into the clutches of home hero van Straalen, with the Dutch rider opting to use the SCX tyre while Oncu used the harder SC0 tyre. The Dutch rider closed in by a second on Oncu on Lap 12 before making the move on Oncu at Turn 5 on Lap 13. Van Straalen was able to then pull a gap to Oncu who had to focus on defending from the chasing pack, eventually dropping behind Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) who passed him on Lap 16 for third place.
Van Straalen was ahead of the group but found himself under late pressure from rookie Schroetter who made the move on the final lap through the final sector to deny van Straalen second place, while claiming his first podium in WorldSSP with van Straalen settling for third in home soil; only 0.107s behind Schroetter and he also had the exact same margin over Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) who missed out on his maiden WorldSSP podium.
Bulega was able to claim his third WorldSSP victory, all coming this season, to extend his lead in the Championship standings while it was also Ducati’s eighth win in WorldSSP. Schroetter’s maiden podium meant he became the 101st different rider to stand on the WorldSSP podium as well as taking Germany’s 40th podium, while van Straalen was the 30th for Dutch riders in the Championship.
A BIG BATTLE: five riders within a second at the flag
Fifth place went to Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) at the end of the race with the Italian consistently in the group fighting for the podium and he was only 0.152s behind Debise after 18 laps. Caricasulo took sixth place after running at the front the early stages of the race while Turkish star Oncu dropped down to seventh at the end of the race; more than one second behind Caricasulo but also with a similar margin to the riders behind.
COMPLETING THE TOP TEN: in the fight tomorrow?
The returning Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) claimed eighth place, 1.779s behind Oncu, with Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was ninth after fighting in the podium battle in the early stages. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) rounded out the top ten as he finished 2.074s behind De Rosa at the end of the race and only a couple of seconds further back away from the battle for the podium group.
POINTS IN THE BAG: incredible fight back to take points
Two WorldSSP300 graduates were fighting for 11th place at the end of the race with Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in 11th place ahead of Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) who crossed the line in 12th place. Huertas, returning from injury sustained in Australia, was forced to start from 29th and last on the grid after he was disqualified from Tissot Superpole due to a weight limit infringement, was also penalised to drop one place in the race classification for exceeding track limits on the final lap. He was therefore classified in 13th place, with Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) promoted to 12th place. Andrea Mantovani (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) was 14th ahead of Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) in 15th; Booth-Amos had crossed the line in 14th but he was also penalised with a one-place penalty for a last-lap track limits infringement.
HOUSEKEEPING: to note from WorldSSP Race 1
John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) was the first rider to retire from Race 1 when he crashed at Turn 4 on Lap 4 with the British rider unable to re-join the race following the crash. Luke Power (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) crashed out on Lap 5 at Turn 10, shortly after he was given a double Long Lap Penalty for a jump start. Thai rider Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) was a retirement after running in the points in the early stages before he dropped down to last place. Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) also retired from the race after he was given a double Long Lap Penalty for a jump start.
With just a couple of laps to go, Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) and Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) collided at the final chicane, taking both riders out of the race. Edwards was ahead of Spinelli with the Italian running into the back of Edwards, and the FIM WorldSBK Stewards decided to investigate the incident after the race. Alvaro Diaz (Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP) and Maiki Abe (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) both did not take part in the race after not setting a lap time within 105% of the fastest rider in Tissot Superpole.
The top six following WorldSSP Race 1, full results here:
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team)
2. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +4.017s
3. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) +4.124s
4. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +4.231s
5. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +4.383s
6. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +4.655s
Fastest Lap – Nicolo Bulega, Ducati – 1’37.831s
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