HOME DOUBLE: Manzi eats into Bulega’s Championship lead with stunning Imola victory

Sunday, 16 July 2023 11:06 GMT

Nicolo Bulega led for the first part of the race, but Stefano Manzi battled back to claim a special Imola double

Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) put in a masterclass at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola for his second win of the Prometeon Italian Round, closing down early race leader Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) and passing him before extending his gap to more than seven seconds. The FIM Supersport World Championship standings got even closer with Manzi beating Bulega to take out another five points out of the latter’s lead.

ALL-ITALIAN ROSTRUM: the gap closes again…

Bulega got the holeshot as the lights went out for the 17-lap race and the Italian soon pulled out a gap over his rivals, taking advantage of Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) seemingly holding up the chasing pack. By the start of Lap 4, the #11 had a lead of 1.513s over the #62 as he lapped in the 1’51s; finding almost a full second compared to his lap times from Race 1. However, Manzi responded soon after to bring the gap down to less than a second by the end of the same lap as Bulega dropped into the 1’52s.

The Yamaha rider kept getting closer to his title rival and soon moved into the lead when he overtook the Ducati rider into the Villeneuve chicane on Lap 7. From there, Manzi was able to pull a gap out with Bulega unable to respond. Bulega’s pace dropped into the 1’53s while Manzi lapped in the high 1’51s to extend his gap, with the Yamaha rider able to manage the gap to claim a double at Imola; only the second time this season he’s scored two podiums in a single round. It also meant the Championship standings closed up further with Manzi taking another five points out of the standing’s leader; the gap is now 41 points.

Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) had been running in the podium places when he crashed at the final chicane on Lap 6. The Italian did remount his Ducati Panigale V2 but brought it into the pits at the end of the next lap and retired. This promoted Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) into third place, and he was relatively unchallenged to claim his fourth podium in WorldSSP and his third of the season so far. It was the eighth all-Italian podium in WorldSSP history.

BEST RESULTS OF 2023: Huertas, de Rosa shine under the scorching sun

Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) had shown strong pace throughout the Round and that culminated in him taking his WorldSSP-best result with fourth. He was five seconds down on Montella in the podium fight, but he was able to take advantage of the scrap behind him to finish three seconds clear. The battle for fifth turned into a four-rider fight as Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) running wide at the Variante Alta with just a few laps to go. The Italian rider claimed fifth, his best result of 2023, while Navarro, Schroetter, and Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) scrapped it out on the final lap. Schroetter tried to pass his Spanish rival into Acque Minerali, but the Yamaha rider responded into the second part to retain sixth place. With Schroetter forced slightly wide, Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) took advantage to claim seventh with the German in eighth.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN: a battle of the replacement riders…


Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) finished in ninth, almost 17 seconds down on the battle ahead of him but it was a dramatic end to the race. Andy Verdoia (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) secured 10th place in a race of attrition to take more points, as he fended off Filippo Fuligni (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) in a battle of the late replacement riders. Verdoia was drafted in before FP2 for Apiwath Wongthananon while Fuligni stood in for the injured Andrea Mantovani. Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) took his best result in World Supersport with 12th, while it was the same for Alvaro Diaz (Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP) as he was 13th, scoring his first points since graduating to WorldSSP. John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) was 14th and Luke Power (Motozoo ME AIE Racing) scored his first WorldSSP point with 15th. Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) were the last classified riders in 16th.

Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) had finished inside the top ten but was later excluded by the FIM Stewards for a technical infringement. He and his bike were determined to be lower than the combined weight required and therefore the Australian was disqualified. It means Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) maintains a 26-point lead in the WorldSSP Challenge standings despite a retirement when he brought his bike into the pits. With Edwards’ disqualification, Kofler finished as the lead WorldSSP Challenge rider.

HOUSEKEEPING: a race of attrition…

Local rider Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) crashed at Turn 18 on Lap 3 which put him out of the race, while Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) crashed at Turn 14. He re-joined the race but opted to bring his Yamaha machine into the pits and retired. Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was another rider who didn’t finish the race when he tumbled out of the race at Turn 7 on Lap 5. There was drama at the final chicane at the end of Lap 7. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) came off his bike through the Variante Bassa which forced him out of the race; in a separate incident, wildcard Emanuele Pusceddu (J.Angel by Edafos) crashed at the same corner.

Stefano Valtulini (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) crashed out at Turn 9 on Lap 9 as he ended his weekend early. The Italian rider, standing in for the unwell Yuta Okaya, was also given a six-second time penalty, in lieu of a double Long Lap Penalty, for a jump start. Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing), Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) and Harry Truelove (PTR Triumph) all brought their bikes into the pits and retired. Maiki Abe (VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha) was on course for his best finish of his rookie campaign but a Turn 6 crash in the final laps of the race put him out of contention.

Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) didn’t compete on Sunday after his Race 1 crash. He was reviewed again on Sunday morning, ahead of Warm Up, and declared unfit with a right wrist sprain and contusion, which impaired his use of it.

The top six from WorldSSP Race 2, full results here:

1. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha)

2. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) +7.188s

3. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +9.804s

4. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +15.370s

5. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) +17.370s

6. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +17.636s

Fastest Lap: Stefano Manzi, Yamaha – 1’51.445s

Championship standings

1. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing – Ducati) 283 points

2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 242

3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 184

4. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) 156

5. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 97

6. Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) 93

WorldSSP heads to the Czech Republic next time out – watch it all for HALF PRICE with the WorldSBK VideoPass!