Friday belonged to Italy at Imola as Federico Caricasulo topped the times ahead of title contender Stefano Manzi, while Championship leader Nicolo Bulega was P5
Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) was the star of the show in the FIM Supersport World Championship on Friday as he topped the timesheets by almost three-quarters of a second during the Prometeon Italian Round. The home hero was the only rider to lap in the 1’51s bracket during Friday’s action to secure top spot at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola. It was a difficult day for compatriot Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it WorldSSP Team) as an FP2 crash disrupted his running and left him fifth in the combined standings, with title rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) three places ahead.
ITALY ON TOP: Caricasulo ahead of Manzi… but Huertas impresses on Friday
Caricasulo put in a series of incredibly fast laps towards the end of the 45-minute session to cement his place in P1. His final three timed laps would all have been good enough to take top spot in the combined classification with his fastest, a 1’51.257s, securing his position ahead of compatriot Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in second place. Caricasulo was the only rider to lap in the 1’51s with Manzi almost three-quarters of a second back from his rival. His best time was a 1’52.002s to finish only 0.008s ahead of Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) in third. The Spaniard was the only rider in the top 25 to not improve their lap time in FP2 with his FP1 time, a 1’52.010s, scoring P3 in the combined classification after being fastest in the morning.
BOUNCING BACK: rapid pace despite crashes
Turkish star Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) bounced back from an FP1 crash at Turn 22 to take fourth place overall, and third in FP2. He posted a 1’52.017s, missing out on a place in the top three by the smallest of margins as he used his Imola experience from his time in the CIV Supersport 300 championship to full effect. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) took fifth but had a dramatic FP2. A crash at Turn 7 right after he set his fastest lap of FP2 at the time meant he lost some running, but the Championship leader was able to respond and went even faster with a 1’52.044s in the closing stages to take P5. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) completed the top six after setting a 1’52.332s; the Yamaha rider more than a second down on Caricasulo’s time.
A MIXED BAG: wildcard impresses, crashes for a potential podium contender…
A trio of Italian riders followed Debise in the standings. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) took seventh spot, only 0.007s slower than Debise ahead, while wildcard Luca Ottaviani (Extreme Racing Service) impressed. Making his first appearance in 2023, the Urbino-born rider secured a top-eight finish after lapping Imola in 1’52.505s to finish ahead of Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) in ninth. Montella’s FP2 was marred by two crashes, both at Turn 22. The first was in the early stages of the session which brought out the red flags; there was a separate crash for Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) at Turn 21 shortly after. The second was towards the end of the session. Finnish rider Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) was the tenth-fastest rider on Friday and finished as the lead Triumph competitor.
HOPING TO MAKE GAINS: sitting just outside the top ten on Friday…
German’s Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) narrowly missed out on a spot in the top ten as he lapped in 1’52.651s, while he had an advantage of around two tenths to Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in 12th. Emanuele Pusceddu (J.Angel by Edafos) was 13th as the second wildcard on the grid also had a strong day. Filippo Fuligni (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team), called up to replace the unfit Andrea Mantovani, took 14th while reigning WorldSSP300 Champion Alvaro Diaz (Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP) was 15th.
DISRUPTED RUNNING: two red flags interrupt FP2
There were two red flags in FP2 which interrupted the running. The first was for the Montella and Sarmoon crashes at the final chicane while the second was after a spill for Yuta Okaya (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) at the same corner. Sarmoon finished in 27th place while Okaya was 25th. Andy Verdoia (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) was 17th as he received a late call-up to race for the team. Anupab Wongthananon was declared unfit with the youngest-ever WorldSSP race winner drafted in after FP1 to race for the team as he did at Donington.
Meanwhile, it was a challenging day for Australia’s Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team). He had two crashes – at Turn 4 in FP1 and Turn 7 in FP2 – which interrupted his running, and he finished in 29th. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was 16th after he took a tumble at Turn 2 in FP2.
The top six following WorldSSP Friday action, full results here:
1. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) 1’51.257s
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.745s
3. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +0.753s
4. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.760s
5. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) +0.787s
6. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +1.075s
WorldSSP dives straight into Superpole on Saturday at 10:25 Local Time (GMT+2), watch it all using the WorldSBK VideoPass!