The 2023 Champion was unbeatable throughout the Tissot Superpole session as he tied the record for poles in a season
Nicolo Bulega’s (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) final FIM Supersport World Championship weekend before he moves to WorldSBK continued to be an impressive one as he took pole position in the Tissot Superpole session by almost six tenths at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto. It means he now holds the joint record for poles in a single season as he beat compatriot Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) by 0.587s during the Prometeon Spanish Round.
STORY OF SUPERPOLE: Bulega quickest out of the blocks
The first laps came in with Champion Bulega storming straight to top spot with a 1’42.567s, going six tenths quicker than Caricasulo on their first flying laps. The #11 was the only rider in the 1’42s bracket in the opening stages, and he was able to improve even further on his second lap to a 1’42.130s, although ‘Carica’ did join him in the 1’42s bracket when he set a 1’42.858s on his second lap.
The second stints got underway with around seven minutes left in the session, and the Champion was able to improve to a 1’41.823s, the first leader in the 1’41s, to extend his lead over the #64 to more than nine tenths. The battle for second was heating up, however, between Caricasulo and Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse). The German rookie had been third before usurping his Italian rival, before the Ducati star responded with a 1’42.633s to reclaim second by 0.057s ahead of the #23. The #64 improved again in the closing stages to a 1’42.410s to close the gap to his rival to around six tenths and secure a front row start.
Bulega’s pole position gave him his 10th of the season, tying him with Cal Crutchlow and Sebastian Charpentier for the record number of poles in a single season. It’s also his fifth consecutive pole position. For Caricasulo, it was his 39th front row start in WorldSSP while Schroetter claimed only his second top-three starting position.
SECOND ROW STARTS: can they fight for the podium?
Championship runner-up Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) claimed fourth as he lapped 0.926s slower than the rider who had been his title rival this season, ahead of compatriot Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team). Renewed for 2024 already, the #55 was consistently in the top positions as he claimed fifth, 0.015s slower than the #62. The second row is completed by Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) in sixth, the first rider more than a second away from Bulega’s lap time.
DRAMATIC ENDING TO SUPERPOLE: Sofuoglu crashes but inside the top ten
Home hero Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) missed out on a second row start by two tenths behind compatriot Huertas, with Navarro setting a 1’43.032s. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) took eighth ahead of Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha), with the Frenchman 0.019s behind the Italian. Turkish star Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was tenth despite a late crash. The #54 came off his MV Agusta F3 800 RR at Turn 1 with just a few minutes remaining, bringing out the yellow flags, although he was able to re-join the session; albeit without setting a further lap time.
COMPLETING THE TOP 15: Oncu continues to find form
Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was 11th with Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in 12th. The Turk, still building up to full fitness following the injuries sustained earlier in the year, had been strong in FP2 on Friday and carried that on with a fourth-row start, lapping less than a tenth away from compatriot Sofuoglu in tenth. Wildcard Yeray Ruiz (MDR Offitec Yamaha) claimed 13th with Simone Corsi (Altogo Racing Team) and Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) completing the top 15. However, Corsi will start Race 1 and Race 2 from the pitlane due to a technical infringement in FP2.
HOUSEKEEPING: one event riders impress, returnees struggle
Melvin van der Voort (Team SWPN) was fast on Friday and was 16th in Superpole on his debut with a 1’43.544s, finishing ahead of Emanuele Pusceddu (J.Angel by Edafos) in 18th. Alvaro Diaz was drafted in to replace the unfit Nicholas Spinelli at VFT Racing WEBIKE Yamaha and the #27 took 22nd despite missing both Friday practice sessions. He was two places behind Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) as he returns from injury. Debutant Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (D34G Racing) was 30th ahead of teammate Oli Bayliss, with the Australian on track for the first time since undergoing surgery.
The top six from WorldSSP Superpole, full results here:
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) 1’41.823s
2. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +0.587s
3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.867s
4. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.926s
5. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.941s
6. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +1.007s
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