The Frenchman stood on a WorldSSP podium for the first time and made it two from two on home soil
Home hero Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) enjoyed an unforgettable Pirelli French Round as he took his first time FIM Supersport World Championship rostrums in sensational fashion. In Race 1, he finished a comfortable third at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours before he battled Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) for victory in Race 2. While he had to settle for second, it capped off a memorable round for the 31-year-old.
The #94 had been quick all weekend and was fastest in Free Practice 1 on Friday and second in Free Practice 2 in the afternoon. The Frenchman was able to convert that into second on the grid for both races as he lapped two tenths slower than Bulega in the Tissot Superpole session. P2 was Debise’s best grid position in WorldSSP and he used this to great effect in the two races for his first podiums at World Championship level.
In Saturday’s race, Debise dropped down the order in the first laps before recovering to second after an epic fight with Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) and Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) before the Frenchman pulled away in the final few laps. It marked his best result in WorldSSP – for a day – as he claimed an emotional home podium in front of his adoring French fans. With feedback gained and the bike worked on, Debise went in search of more on Sunday.
Debise got a better start on Sunday, and he remained in the top three but initially lost ground to Championship leader Bulega. After two laps, the gap was out to six tenths, but the Frenchman put in a couple of new race lap records to close the gap on his rival although the #11 resisted his pressure. In the final few laps, Bulega extended his lead to almost two second at the end of the race to deny Debise a home victory, but P2 was still his best result in WorldSSP.
Reflecting on Race 2 and his weekend, Debise said: “It’s nice to get two podiums in a row and my first two podiums in front of the French fans. The race was better than Race 1 because it was a little bit stressful to get my first podium! I didn’t ride as I wanted. In Race 2, I made a better start. It was nice to start better and soon I was second. It was just about chasing Bulega. His pace was so fast, and I couldn’t keep up in the end, but I did my best. I now have the confidence to fight with him. It’s going to help me with the next couple of rounds.
“I was surprised when I saw my pit board because, after three or four laps, the gap was already more than one second. I thought something happened and the gap got bigger and bigger. When I got to the podium, I saw Manzi was the third guy. We made some little changes compared to Saturday with my crew and the Yamaha was working crazy today. I think, with the little something I changed with my riding, I was a little bit more consistent with the bike. We were able to have a super-fast pace. They told me I made a new lap record during the race.”
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