Despite losing ground at the start of the race, Bulega was able to battle back for victory at Misano to extend his Championship leader
It was a historic FIM Supersport World Championship Race 1 at the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli” during the Pirelli Emilia-Romagna Round as Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) extended his Championship lead with victory on home soil despite dropping back at the start of the race. He led an all-Italian podium at Misano as he claimed victory by almost two seconds for his sixth win of 2023 and his seventh podium in nine races.
HOME HEROES ON THE PODIUM: Bulega leads all-Italian rostrum
Bulega had a poor start as the lights went out, initially losing out to Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) and Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team). He was then demoted to fourth when Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) came through on the Championship leader. However, in the next few laps, Bulega was able to re-take the lead before he started to pull out a gap on his rivals.
By the end of Lap 7, he had a gap of 1.7s as he looked to take his first WorldSSP victory in Italy and he was duly able to hold on to take his sixth win of the season on the Panigale V2 machine and extend his Championship lead over Schroetter with the German rider finishing in fourth place and dropping to third in the standings; Bulega’s lead is now 41 points over Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) and 45 over Schroetter. His victory means he now has more wins for Ducati in WorldSSP than all the other Ducati winners combined.
The battle for second place turned into a three-way scrap with Schroetter running in second until Lap 8 before he was overtaken by Manzi, who started from tenth, at Turn 8 to demote the German to third. Two laps later, Schroetter found himself in fourth place after Caricasulo overtook him through Turns 9 and 10 to claim a podium on home soil, the fifth Italian podium lockout in WorldSSP. Manzi and Caricasulo had a late-race battle with Caricasulo looking to overtake Manzi, but the Yamaha rider was able to hold on for his 10th podium in WorldSSP while Caricasulo scored his 31st.
JUST MISSING OUT: under a second off the podium
Schroetter was able to stem his losses once Caricasulo came by and he spent the second half of the race in fourth place as he tried to stay in touch with Caricasulo ahead of him, as he finished around two seconds clear of Montella who dropped to fifth despite his impressive start. Wildcard Simone Corsi (Altogo Racing Team) took sixth place on home soil after he battled up from 11th place; the Italian rider had a three-place grid drop for irresponsible riding in the Tissot Superpole session.
UNPREDICTABLE ACTION: thrilling fights wherever you looked
Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) dropped back at the start of the race, but he battled his way into seventh place, taking advantage of the scrap behind him to finish strongly. The fight behind him was a three-way battle involving Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) and Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki). At the end of the 18-lap race, it was Navarro who came home in eighth place, just one tenth ahead of Tuuli in ninth. Huertas made a mistake in the final few laps of the race which allowed Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) to take tenth, with Huertas finishing in 11th place.
SCORING POINTS: positives to take into Sunday
Three more Italian riders took home points in Race 1 with Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) taking 12thplace, three seconds down on 2021 WorldSSP300 Champion Huertas ahead. He was also three seconds clear of Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) in 13th ahead of two Italian riders. Andrea Mantovani (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) was 14th on home soil with Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) taking the final point from Race 1 and finishing as the highest-placed WorldSSP Challenge rider. He had a five second margin to his nearest rival in the WorldSSP Challenge with Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) in 16th.
Johan Gimbert (GMT94 Yamaha), standing in for the unfit Valentin Debise, was half-a-second down on Edwards at the end of the race after he made moves in the closing stages; passing Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) and beating him by a tenth of a second. John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) was 19th after a late crash at Turn 14 cost him time and positions, but he was still able to finish ahead of Yuta Okaya (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) who completed the top 20. Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team), Harry Truelove (Dynavolt Triumph), Ratthapong Wilairot (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) and teammate Anupab Sarmoon were the last classified riders; Sarmoon had a crash at Turn 2 on Lap 7 which dropped him down the order.
HOUSEKEEPING: retirements for De Rosa and Sofuoglu
The first retirement of the race was Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), one of several riders without a lap time in Race 1. Maiki Abe (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) made contact with Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) on the exit of Turn 10 on Lap 1 and retired, with Mackenzie able to continue but retiring at the end of the lap. The FIM WorldSBK Stewards investigated the incident but took no further action. On Lap 2, Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) crashed at Turn 8 and, despite bringing his bike back to the pits, retired. Two laps later, Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) had a tech issue at Turn 8 and took his bike off the circuit while Marco Bussolotti (Axon Seven Team) also had a tech issue at the start of Lap 5. Reigning WorldSSP300 Champion Alvaro Diaz (Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP) retired with a tech issue on Lap 12 of 18.
The top six from WorldSSP Race 1, full results here:
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team)
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +1.609s
3. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +1.184s
4. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +2.425s
5. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +6.685s
6. Simone Corsi (Altogo Racing Team) +9.838s
Fastest Lap: Federico Caricasulo (Ducati) – 1’37.933s
Don’t miss more WorldSSP action on Sunday at Misano using the WorldSBK VideoPass!