Champion-elect Bulega tops FP1 in WorldSSP, title rival Manzi P4

Friday, 22 September 2023 10:20 GMT

A busy opening 45 minutes at MotorLand Aragon and with the Championship there to be won this weekend, can Nicolo Bulega make it count

Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) can be World Champion this weekend if results go his way and he certainly started on the front foot, with a fine showing in Free Practice 1 of 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship action at MotorLand Aragon. The #11 Ducati star was the rider to beat in the opening session but there’s a star-studded pack directly behind him. 

Leading the way as he so often has in 2023, Bulega got down to business and was atop of the timing sheets for the majority of the session, eventually finishing with just under four tenths of a second as an advantage. However, there was some late drama as he ran off the track and through the gravel at the end of the back straight with less than five minutes to go but he was able to return to the pits. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) moved into P2, behind the bike he’ll be riding in 2024, whilst Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) was third ahead of Stefan Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in fourth. Completing the top five, a solid effort by Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).

Sixth place honours went to Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team), the last rider within a second of Bulega’s top time; Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) made it two MV Agusta F3 800 RRs inside the top seven, whilst it was an eventful session for Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura). The Italian suffered two crashes: the first at Turn 1 at the start of the session and a second at Turn 11 right at the end of the session but thankfully, walked away from both. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) took P9, whilst Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was tenth ahead of top Triumph, Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph).

Best WorldSSP Challenge rider Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) was 13th and he can wrap up the title this weekend, whilst John McPhee (D34G Racing) was 15th on his debut with Davide Giugliano’s team, deputising for the injured Oli Bayliss. Elsewhere, a second weekend back in action for Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) left him in P23 after FP1.

Top six after WorldSSP FP1, full results here:

1. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) 1’54.043s

2. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +0.376s

3. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +0.512s

4. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.514s

5. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.858s

6. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.955s

Watch the final three rounds of 2023 unfold in style using the WorldSBK VideoPass – now only €9.99!