INDEPENDENT RIDERS’ BATTLE: Bassani and Petrucci set for Jerez fight for top honours

Thursday, 19 October 2023 08:05 GMT

39 points separate Axel Bassani and Danilo Petrucci heading into Jerez in the scrap to be 2023’s highest-placed Independent rider

The MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship heads to southern Spain and the historic Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto at the end of October, and there’s still plenty to play for at the final round. The battle to be crowned this year’s top Independent rider is heating up with one round and three races left, with Italian duo Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) scrapping it out for 2023 honours. The pair are separated by 39 points heading into the Prometeon Spanish Round with a maximum of 62 available, as the #47 leads his compatriot at this crucial stage of the season.

HOW THE FIGHT GOT TO THIS POINT: podium contenders go for Independent honours

2023 has been a case of “the same but different” when looking at their campaigns. Bassani started off stronger – with his experience of the bike, track and tyres giving him an early advantage – before Petrucci found a breakthrough at Misano back in June, even if the results didn’t quite match the performances on home soil. The pair, since then, have been evenly matched and they have taken five podiums between them: two for the #47 and three for the #9. Despite scoring more podiums, it’s Bassani who leads going into the final round with a 39-point advantage over his Ducati stablemate.

WILL JEREZ EXPERIENCE COUNT? Bassani knows it from WorldSBK, Petrucci from MotoGP™…

The Andalusian venue has been a prominent circuit on both the WorldSBK and MotoGP™ calendars and both riders know the track well. ‘Petrux’ scored two top-five finishes there in 2018 (fourth) and 2019 (fifth) and these were his best results at Jerez. For Bassani, he’s only been to the Spanish circuit once in WorldSBK where he scored sixth and eighth, but he did take fifth there in WorldSSP in 2016 as well as in 2015 in STK600. Both will be looking to secure a first podium at Jerez during the final round and it could be crucial in their battle.

HOW IT CAN BE WON: advantage Bassani heading into Jerez

Kawasaki-bound Bassani can wrap up the Independent Riders’ title on Saturday in Race 1. If he finishes with a 38-point or higher margin over his rival, he will win the award for the second consecutive year. A 37-point margin on Saturday would mean Petrucci could win the title with two wins and Bassani not scoring on Sunday. So, if Bassani outscores the two-time MotoGP™ race winner in Race 1, or loses one point or fewer to him, Bassani will take the title. If it’s not decided on Saturday, Bassani needs to be 26 points clear after the Tissot Superpole Race or one point clear after Race 2 to guarantee it – if they’re level, it’ll come down to best results which Petrucci currently leads thanks to his two third places compared to Bassani’s one; they both have one second place this year.

THE OTHER BATTLES: the fight for third, Independent Teams’ battle

While Bassani and Petrucci are busy fighting for Independent honours, there’s a scrap brewing between three riders for bronze. GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team duo Remy Gardner and Dominique Aegerter currently head that battle with 139 and 138 points respectively, but an in-form and hard-charging Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) is closing in. The American is now just four points behind Gardner, sitting on 135 points. In the Teams’ fight, it’s GRT Yamaha leading Motocorsa Racing by 33 points. With a two-rider line-up, GRT Yamaha should fend off Motocorsa but anything can happen at a season finale…

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