2023 Champion Bulega ended his WorldSSP career with a victory, while Can Oncu was back on the podium for the first time since Indonesia
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) ended his FIM Supersport World Championship season as he started it as he took a Prometeon Spanish Round double with Race 2 victory, his sixth double of the season. He finished just over a second clear of rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in second, while there was a warm welcome back to the podium for Turkish star Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) as he took a stunning and unexpected third place at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto.
DRAMATIC START: fierce fights and a red flag
Bulega and Caricasulo both got away well as the lights went out with the #11 leading although ‘Carica’ was able to go with the Champion throughout the first half of the opening lap. However, Bulega was able to extend his gap over the #64 over the second half of the lap to ensure his rivals were unable to challenge him in the first stages of the race; the gap at the end of Lap 3 was up to 3.171s.
Caricasulo was able maintain second place until the start of Lap 5 when rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) came bundling through, although the #64 responded on the same lap right before the red flags were deployed. On Lap 3, Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) crashed at Turn 13 with his bike hitting the fence on the exit of the corner. Due to safety conditions, the race was red flagged, and it was restarted over a seven-lap distance. Schroetter did not take to the restart, nor did teammate Bahattin Sofuoglu or Ondrej Vostatek (PTR Triumph), who crashed on Lap 1 at Turn 6 and Lap 4 at Turn 8 respectively.
RETURNING TO THE PODIUM: Oncu fights for first podium since Mandalika
The grid for the restarted race was based on the last completed timing point for each rider. This time, Bulega got the better start compared to Caricasulo, who was passed by Manzi on the run into Turn 1. The #11 was able to build a gap as he often does in the early stages, although not as big as before, ahead of the #62. Manzi had to look over his shoulder in the opening stages, with Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) on the charge. The #61, still searching for full fitness, overtook the Yamaha rider into Turn 13 on Lap 2 for second, after making gains on the first lap.
Manzi returned the favour at Turn 6 on the following lap as he demoted the one-time race winner back into third, while Bulega extended his lead over the duo fighting for P2. Oncu was able to get close to the Yamaha on several occasions, but the Italian resisted the Turkish star’s pressure to claim second place, while Oncu returned to the podium for the first time since his victory in Race 1 at Mandalika. Bulega moved onto 16 wins out of 24 for the season, and 21 podiums which is a season record, while Manzi took his 22nd career rostrum. For Oncu, it was his 14th podium since he joined WorldSSP.
STRONG END TO 2023 FOR KAWASAKI: Huertas P4 in tight race for fourth
Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was another Kawasaki rider on the march in the early stages, but his progress halted when he moved into fourth, finishing in P4 for the fourth time this season. He was just 1.250s away from Oncu in third, while he was almost six tenths clear of Caricasulo in fifth. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) continued his end-of-season strong form with sixth, as Huertas, Caricasulo and Debise were separated by only eight tenths after the seven-lap race.
ONE-EVENT RIDERS IMPRESS: Ruiz takes WorldSSP best
Wildcard Yeray Ruiz (MDR Offitec Yamaha) completed his weekend with eighth, making gains and impressing the paddock with strong performances. Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) signed off his half-season campaign with another top ten position with wildcard Simone Corse (Altogo Racing Team) in tenth. The Italian started the original race from the pit lane due to a technical infringement, but he was up to 15th when the red flags were shown. With the grid set by the last completed timing point, the #40 was on the fifth row for the restart and was able to take a top-ten finish; only a tenth away from compatriot Dalla Porta ahead of him.
DEBUTANT SCORES A POINT: WorldSSP300 runner-up takes P15 in first weekend
Spaniard Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) was 11th and only two tenths away from the top ten, with Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) less than a second away. Dutch wildcard Melvin van der Voort (Team SWPN) was another who impressed during his one-off appearance he finished in 13th, ahead of Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) in 14th. Debutant Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (D34G Racing) was the final point scorer, taking 15th on his first appearance in the Championship.
HOUSEKEEPING: three retirements in the restarted race
Gabriele Giannini (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) had a difficult debut weekend and this culminated in a second retirement in two races. Muhammad Mohd Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) crashed out on Lap 5 at Turn 5 to end his race early, while Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) brought his bike into the pits in the closing stages. The Italian crashed on Lap 6 at Turn 13 while fighting in the top ten and, although he was initially able to re-join, decided to retire in the box.
The top six from WorldSSP Race 2, full results here:
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team)
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +1.478s
3. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +2.459s
4. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +3.709s
5. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +4.287s
6. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +4.470s
Fastest Lap: Can Oncu (Kawasaki), 1’42.559s
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) 503 points
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 408
3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 294
4. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) 258
5. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) 181
6. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 168
2023 is done and dusted but 2024 will be upon us soon – get set for next season using the WorldSBK VideoPass – for only €9.99!