Nicolo Bulega made it two wins from two at the Dutch Round with a commanding victory in Race 2 at the TT Circuit Assen
The FIM Supersport World Championship’s visit to the TT Circuit Assen for the Pirelli Dutch Round concluded with a thrilling Race 2 which was won by Nicolo Bulega (Aaruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) as he continued his strong start to the 2023 campaign, while there was an incredible fight for the podium behind Bulega as he took his fourth win in six races this season. Home team Ten Kate Racing Yamaha were able to celebrate a home podium with Stefano Manzi taking second place in the Netherlands.
FIGHTING FOR THE PODIUM: a fierce battle
Bulega has been the only repeat winner in 2023 so far and he continued that record as he claimed victory in Race 2 at Assen. He initially fell behind Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) on the opening lap but he responded at the final chicane to re-claim the lead of the race and, from there, he was able to take advantage of the squabbling behind him to build a gap of more than three seconds.
The battle for the podium had been a group of five or six riders but fracture when Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), teammate Bahattin Sofuoglu and Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) went three-wide into the final chicane. Sofuoglu crashed out after contact with the Dutch rider while Schroetter and van Straalen continued; the incident was placed under investigation by the FIM WorldSBK Stewards and no further action was taken.
It meant the podium fight ended up being between Caricasulo, Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) and Schroetter, with Manzi and Caricasulo fighting hard for second place. On Lap 16, the pair went side by side into the final chicane before Manzi opened up a gap to Caricasulo with rookie Schroetter fighting back to close the gap on the podium places. Despite Caricasulo and Schroetter fighting hard, Manzi was able to hold on by just 0.086s for second place, with Caricasulo in third.
Victory for Bulega moved Ducati onto nine WorldSSP victories, only one behind Suzuki and MV Agusta in the all-time list while Manzi claimed his eighth podium since joining WorldSSP, putting him in 38th place in the all-time list. Caricasulo took his 30th podium in WorldSSP with third place but his podium, coupled with Bulega’s victory, mean Ducati now have 40 podiums in WorldSSP.
JUST MISSING OUT: a late charge but shy of the podium
Schroetter backed up his maiden podium from Race 1 with fourth place in Race 2, finishing just half-a-second away from Caricasulo on the podium. The German rookie had a more than five second margin to the riders fighting hard behind him as Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) and Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) battled it out for fifth place throughout the second half of the race. Finnish rider Tuuli was able to hold on to fifth on his Triumph machine with Debise ending a strong weekend in sixth place.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN: ending the Dutch Round on a high
Their battle allowed Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) to close the gap to the top-six battle but he finished two seconds away in seventh place, ahead of Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura). After the race, the stewards demoted De Rosa one place for taking a shortcut with an advantage at Turn 17, dropping him behind Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) who, once again pulled off an incredible comeback as he finished in eighth from 28th on the grid, finishing ahead of van Straalen in tenth; van Straalen ran off at Turn 5 shortly after the incident at the final chicane.
SCORING POINTS: finishing in the top 15
Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) crossed the line 11th after a strong race for the Kawasaki rider and he finished as the lead WorldSSP Challenge rider, but he was promoted to tenth after a post-race penalty for exceeding track limits on the final lap for van Straalen. It meant Booth-Amos finished ahead of Andrea Mantovani (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) in 12th place. Wildcard Simone Corsi (Altogo Racing Team) ended his debut WorldSSP weekend in 13th place ahead of Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) in 14th and Tom Edwards in 15th. Spinelli had to serve a Long Lap Penalty for Race 2 following a crash with Edwards in Race 1 on Saturday.
Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) just missed out on points with 16th, only 0.125s behind Edwards at the end of the flag, while his teammate was involved in a tight battle for 17th. John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) finished in 17th but he was only 0.051s ahead of Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) at the end of the 18-lap race. There was another tight finish for 18th as Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) finished 0.075s ahead of Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE HONDA Team) in 20th. Harry Truelove (Dynavolt Triumph) finished in 21st ahead of Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE HONDA Team) and Yuta Okaya (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) who rounded out the classified riders.
HOUSEKEEPING: to note from WorldSSP Race 2
Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) crashed out of the race at Turn 1 with both riders retiring from the race. The FIM WorldSBK Stewards opted to investigate the incident after the race, with Montella given a double Long Lap Penalty for the next race he participates in for his role in the collision. Oncu was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash and was diagnosed with a fracture of the distal ulna and fracture of the proximal radius. Luke Power (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) retired from the race after bringing his machine into the pits in the first half of the race, while Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) also brought his bike into the pits before taking the chequered flag to retire.
Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) was declared unfit following a crash on Friday in Free Practice 1, with the Australian showing symptoms of a big toe fracture following the crash.
The top six following WorldSSP Race 2, full results here:
1 Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team)
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +4.437s
3. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +4.523s
4. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +5.088s
5. Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) +10.864s
6. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +11.068s
Fastest Lap: Nicolo Bulega, Ducati – 1’37.607s – New Lap Record
1 Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) 127 points
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 90
3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 79
4. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) 77
5. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 63
6. Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) 61
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