Bulega leads WorldSSP field on Friday as conditions improve in FP2, Pons quickest in wet FP1

Friday, 27 October 2023 12:01 GMT

The Italian was rapid throughout the afternoon as he lapped more than half-a-second clear of his rivals in the dry conditions

Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) took full advantage of improved conditions at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto as he topped both Free Practice 2 and the combined classification as he went more than six tenths clear of his FIM Supersport World Championship rivals. With conditions vastly improved, all riders were able to go faster in the afternoon at the Prometeon Spanish Round, as a trio of Italian riders rounded out the top three.

STORY OF FP2: dry track creates busy session….

With the track now considerably drier compared to this morning’s FP1 session, where only six riders posted a time, the laps were much faster and immediately into the 1’50s barrier, with Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) lapping in the 1’48s straight away. The Spaniard improved his time to a 1’46.351s but his lead at the top ended when 2023 Champion Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) posted a 1’40.070s to briefly claim top spot with just under 30 minutes remaining in FP2.

The pair were swiftly joined by Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) as the quickest riders, with the #62 moving to P1 with a 1’45.736s at around the halfway mark of the session, before Bulega usurped him by just 0.006s as the times edged closer to the 1’44s bracket; the #11’s time with 20 minutes remaining was 1’45.183s. On his next lap, the Champion went even faster to lap in the 1’44s for the first time with a 1’44.953s, extending his lead over Manzi to 0.236s. As the time ticked down, a flurry of red sectors were posted across the board with track conditions getting ever better.

CHAMPION ON TOP: Bulega leads Italian 1-2-3

The majority of the quickest times came in the final 10 minutes with Bulega eventually claiming first place with a 1’43.171s. He was one of only two riders to lap in the 1’43s bracket as he finished six tenths clear of Montella. The #55 was the only other rider to be in the 1’43s, with Manzi in third a further two tenths back from his compatriot, with the top three separated by just over eight tenths at the end of Friday’s action.

ONCU BACK ON FORM? Turkish star into the top six

Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) left it late to move into the top four, but he was able to claim fourth with a 1’44.110s to ensure three manufacturers were inside the first four positions. Like the German, Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) improved his time to a 1’44.123s in the final few moments to take fifth, finishing ahead of Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). The Turkish star is still working his way back to full fitness from injury but was able to secure a top six position on Friday.

WILDCARD IMPRESSES: Dutch rookie immediately in the top ten

The one-time race winner was ahead of Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) in seventh, with the #64 having a massive moment at the final corner in the first part of FP2. Dutch rider Melvin van der Voort (Team SWPN) was an impressive eighth on his WorldSSP debut, lapping two tenths slower than ‘Carica’ ahead. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was ninth ahead of home hero Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) with the Spaniard rounding out the top ten on Friday.

HOUSEKEEPING: to note from Friday’s running

Despite topping the wet FP1, Miquel Pons (Zeus Motorsport) finished 26th in the dry FP2. Ondrej Vostatek (PTR Triumph) was one rider who opted not to go out in FP1 and his track time in FP2 was curtailed when he crashed at Turn 1 in the first few minutes, at the start of his first flying lap. The Czech star did not set a lap time.

The top six from WorldSSP Friday running, full results here:

1 Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) 1’43.171s

2. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.628s

3. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.841s

4. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.939s

5. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +0.952s

6. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +1.061s

Watch more WorldSSP action on Saturday with Tissot Superpole at 10:25 Local Time (GMT+2) using the WorldSBK VideoPass – for only €9.99!