Bulega led Manzi and Oncu to claim his second WorldSSP victory in Australia and heads into Indonesia with a 20-point advantage over his rivals
Race 2 in the FIM Supersport World Championship was a tense, nail-biting race at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round as Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) backed up his wet-weather Race 1 win with victory in Sunday’s Race 2. The race was shortened from 18 laps when the red flags were deployed on Lap 15 due to geese on the track, with the top three separated by less than a second consistently throughout the race.
THREE-WAY FIGHT: Manzi, Bulega and Oncu battle it out
Three riders were able to break away from the chasing pack in the first half of the race to make it a three-way battle for victory in Race 2 as Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), Bulega and Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) fought hard for victory. Bulega took the lead at the start and held on until Lap 10 when Manzi overtook his compatriot at Turn 2 to take the lead of the race for the first time.
On Lap 13, Bulega responded down the pit straight to pass Manzi and re-take the lead of the race for his second win of the 2023 after the race was red-flagged due to Cape Barren geese on track on Lap 15 of the originally scheduled 18. As two-thirds race distance had been completed, the race was not restarted with Bulega in first place, Manzi second and Turkish star Oncu in third place. The trio were really separated by more than half-a-second throughout the race, with the gap between the top three just 0.665s at the end of the race.
Bulega’s win was his second in WorldSSP after his Race 1 triumph while it was also his 11th WorldSSP podium. Manzi took his sixth WorldSSP podium and his first on Yamaha machinery following his switch from Triumph, while Oncu took his 12th WorldSSP podium to tie level with Jamie Whitham, Chaz Davies and Steven Odendaal. Bulega’s back-to-back wins in Australia meant he became the first rider to win two races in a row at Phillip Island since Jules Cluzel in 2014-2015.
ROOKIES IMPRESSING: two rookies in the top six
Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) claimed his best WorldSSP result with fourth spot and it also ensured four manufacturers were represented in the top four with Ducati, Yamaha, Kawasaki and MV Agusta. Schroetter had to fight his way up the order and he was eventually 1.4s clear of Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) in fifth place, while Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) was sixth on his first WorldSSP weekend.
INI THE TOP TEN: tough fights throughout
Navarro had a late-race fight with Raffaele De Rose (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in seventh spot with the pair separated by just 0.076s at the end of the race, while there was also a fierce battle not far behind them. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) and Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) were swapping positions throughout with Debise coming out on top by just a tenth of a second. Home hero Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) took 10th spot after he was running in the top ten during the race; Bayliss had to take avoiding action after Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) had a technical issue while in the group which cost him time.
SCORING POINTS: heading to Indonesia in the points
Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was 11th after he fought his way up the order while John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) was 12th after his stunning Race 1 podium, while the two Thai riders on the grid scored points. Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) and teammate Anupab Sarmoon were 14th and 15th respectively, while Malaysia’s Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE MS Racing HONDA Team) rounded out the points-paying positions. His teammate, Tarran Mackenzie, missed out on points as he finished in 16th place.
HOUSEKEEPING: to note from Race 2
Harry Truelove (Dynavolt Triumph) was the first retirement from Race 2 after he had a crash at Turn 2 on Lap 1, with the British rider’s race coming to a very early end following the crash. Andrea Mantovani (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) crashed out at the start of Lap 6 at Turn 1 which ended the Italian’s race early; his second crash of the round. Mantovani was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following his crash. Caricasulo’s technical issue forced him to retire from the race while Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing Yamaha) had a technical issue after he ran wide at Turn 10 early in the race. He brought his bike into the pits after he got going again but was not classified in the race results.
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) +0.382s
3. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.665s
4. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +9.647s
5. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) +11.080s
6. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +12.934s
Fastest lap: Stefano Manzi, Yamaha – 1’33.853s
1 Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) 50 points
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 30
3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 22
4. Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing Yamaha) 20
5. John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) 20
6. Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) 20
Watch more WorldSSP action in 2023 with Indonesia up next using the WorldSBK VideoPass!