FINAL LAP FIGHT: Vannucci fends off Geiger for emotional home victory at Imola

Saturday, 15 July 2023 11:46 GMT

The pair quickly broke away from the chasing pack and battled it out for the win until the final corners of the circuit; Marc Garcia claimed China Racing Team’s first points in WorldSSP300

Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha) resisted rival Dirk Geiger (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) to claim a home victory at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola with just 0.090s separating the pair at the end of the 13-lap Race 1. It was a dramatic fight that came down to the final corners at the Prometeon Italian Round while there was joy behind as Marc Garcia (China Racing Team) secured Kove’s first FIM Supersport 300 World Championship points to give the Chinese manufacturer a boost halfway through their maiden campaign.

LAST LAP SCRAP: Vannucci just holds on from Geiger

The race soon became a two-rider fight as polesitter Geiger and home hero Vannucci took advantage of the squabbling behind to pull out around two seconds on the chasing pack on the opening lap. The German was leading until Rivazza 1 when Vannucci overtook his rival, with the pair remaining nose-to-tail throughout the whole race; although they didn’t change position too much to keep increasing the gap behind.

Their pace was strong with Vannucci set a new race lap record on Lap 2 when he posted a 2’06.540s, while both were under that record on Lap 3 when they extended the gap to four seconds over Mirko Gennai (Team BrCorse) who was trying to break away and secure a home podium. On Lap 5, Geiger had his first look at passing Vannucci into Piratella and then Acque Minerali although did not make the move.

The duo’s continued to be relentless as they lapped in the low 2’07s to continue extending their gap over the battle behind, with the pair more than eight seconds clear of Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) at the start of Lap 8 of 13. On Lap 10, Geiger overtook Vannucci into the Villeneuve Chicane before the Italian responded into the Variante Alta on the same lap. On the final lap, Geiger moved ahead when the Yamaha rider ran wide at the left-hander of Tosa before he responded at Acque Minerali for an unconventional race-winning move.

Vannucci took his third WorldSSP300 victory and sixth podium as he hauled himself up to fifth in the standings, while it was also Italy’s tenth win in the Championship; the third country to reach this milestone. Geiger was on the podium for the fourth time while it was back-to-back second places for the KTM rider.

The battle for third raged on throughout the whole race and it was Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) who claimed third as he led a group of six riders separated by 1.5 seconds. The majority of that group took turns to lead the fight, but Buis timed it to perfection for the rostrum, denying Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing BGR) by just two tenths. Buis’ 16th podium means he is now only four behind Scott Deroue in the all-time rankings.

FIRST POINTS: Kove celebrate a top ten with Garcia

Perez Gonzalez fended off Humberto Maier (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team) with the Brazilian taking fifth; half-a-second down on the Spaniard. Kevin Sabatucci (Team Flembbo – PI Performances) was sixth as he fended off two riders to secure a place in the top six. Gennai came home in seventh despite trying to break away, losing third place on Lap 6 and unable to recover it, with Marc Garcia (China Racing Team). The 2017 Champion secured the Kove 312RR’s first points since the Chinese manufacturer joined WorldSSP300 with their first top-ten appearance; only 1.5 seconds down on the podium. French rider Samuel Di Sora (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) took ninth but missed out on passing Garcia by just 0.136s while he also resisted late pressure from Britain’s Fenton Seabright (Kawasaki GP Project) in tenth.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP ORDER CHANGES: Svoboda loses second in the standings…

Rookie Julio Garcia (Team Flembbo – PI Performances) was just two tenths away from the top ten but settled for P11 ahead of Lennox Lehmann (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) with just 0.342s separating the pair. Championship contender Petr Svoboda (Fusport – RT Motorsport by SKM – Kawasaki) dropped down the order as he finished in 14th, ahead of Mexico’s Juan Pablo Uriostegui (Team#109 Kawasaki) in 15th. Svoboda’s 14th place, coupled with Geiger in second, means the Czech rider has dropped to third in the standings.

HOUSEKEEPING: penalties and crashes impact results

Marco Gaggi (Team BrCorse) was classified in 17th place after crossing the line in 11th. He was penalised with a three-second penalty, in lieu of a Long Lap Penalty, for shortcutting the final chicane. Both wildcard Roberto Jason Sarchi (Gradaracorse) and Devis Bergamini (ProGP Racing) were penalised three seconds, in lieu of a Long Lap Penalty, for slow riding in FP2. They were classified 19th and 20th respectively.

Daniel Mogeda (Kawasaki GP Project) was the first retirement when he pulled off the track on Lap 2 with a technical issue. Debutant Michel Agazzi (Sublime Racing by MS Racing) crashed out of his home race on Lap 6 at Turn 9, while teammate Alfonso Coppola crashed on Lap 8 at Turn 7. Loris Veneman (MTM Kawasaki) crashed out on Lap 10 at the Variante Alta which ended his race, while Jose Manuel Osuna Saez (Deza-Box 77 Racing Team) went down on the penultimate lap at Turn 3.

The top six from WorldSSP300 Race 1, full results here:

1. Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha)

2. Dirk Geiger (Freudenberg KTM-Paligo Racing) +0.090s

3. Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) +10.392s

4. Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing BGR) +10.609s

5. Humberto Maier (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team) +11.161s

6. Kevin Sabatucci (Team Flemmbo-PI Performances) +11.719s

Fastest Lap: Matteo Vannucci, Yamaha – 2’06.257 (New Lap Record)

Watch WorldSSP300 Race 2 LIVE and UNINTERRUPTED from Imola on Sunday at 15:15 Local Time (GMT+2) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!