Magical Mackenzie stuns with slick tyre gamble to give Honda’s first WorldSSP victory since 2016

Sunday, 30 July 2023 11:39 GMT

The Brit claimed his first WorldSSP victory after opting not to pit; Bulega takes 16th and Manzi retires from dramatic Race 2

Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) stunned the FIM Supersport World Championship as he opted not to change tyres when the rain came down during Race 2 at the Autodrom Most on his way to a maiden win. After starting from 22nd on the grid, Mackenzie’s pace as the track got wetter and then dried out again allowed him to move into the lead of the race during the Acerbis Czech Round, while there were more title race twists. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) and title rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) both scored zero points.

THE GAMBLE PAYS OFF: staying on slicks the right decision

Bulega and Manzi tried to pull away as the lights went out in the dry conditions, but their races soon unravelled as they, along with most of the field, opted to switch tyres on Lap 8 as the rain fell harder and soaked the circuit. Manzi was ahead of the #11 when they entered the pits but, on the wet-weather tyres, Bulega was able to get ahead of the #62. However, the track dried out again with Bulega finishing in 16th and Manzi retiring with a technical problem on Lap 11. 

While most riders opted to pit, several decided not to and this allowed rookie Mackenzie to surge to the front of the field, taking huge chunks out of his rivals by lapping around five seconds quicker than his rivals. Although his pace dropped off as the track dried, the gap was enough to hold off Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) to claim his first win in the Championship and Honda’s first since Lusail in 2016; their 105th in total.

Schroetter was joined on the podium by teammate Bahattin Sofuoglu who had a dramatic race. In the dry, the one-time winner was rapid as he looked to make his way up the order, but he crashed at Turn 10 on Lap 7 as the rain got heavier. The Turk was able to bounce back from this to finish in third to make it to MV Agustas on the rostrum and giving Sofuoglu his fourth podium albeit almost 19 seconds down on his teammate.

A MIXED-UP RACE 2: Gradinger returns to the top six

John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) made it two Brits in the top as he also opted not to switch tyres to claim his second-best WorldSSP result after his Australia podium. He was ahead of Malaysia’s Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) in fifth, putting two Hondas in the top five in what has been a challenging year for the Japanese manufacturer. Thomas Gradinger (Eder Racing) secured a top-six finish on his return to the Championship as a wildcard rider for his best result since he was sixth at Donington Park in 2019.

BEST RESULTS: taking advantage of the conditions

Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) claimed his best result in WorldSSP as he took P7 ahead of Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) in eighth. Thailand’s Sarmoon had led the race before he crashed at Turn 20 on Lap 10, the same lap he took the lead on, before he bounced back to take eighth. It’s his best result since joining the Championship. Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) and Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), the latter of whom had been fighting at the front in the early stages, completed the top ten.

DRAMA UNTIL THE END: Caricasulo, Debise, Kofler impacted by penalties

Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) and Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) went head-to-head for 11th in what was a dramatic day. The Frenchman also had to serve a double Long Lap Penalty. He was first given one for incorrectly entering the pits before a second one was handed out for not completing the first. Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) was 13th ahead of Andreas Kofler (D34G Racing) in 14th. The debutant was given a 10.935s Pit Intervention Time sanction, for spending less than the required 73 seconds in the pit lane, which dropped him from 12th to 14th. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was considered a retirement, but this was re-evaluated after he was directed into Parc Ferme rather than finishing his final lap, after he unlapped himself on the line. This meant the Spaniard was classified 15th with Bulega in 16th.

HOUSEKEEPING: Navarro crashes from the podium places

Luke Power (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) did not start the race after he had a technical problem with his Kawasaki ZX-6R on the grid, which forced the Australian to retire before his race had started. Tom Edwards (Yart – Yamaha WorldSSP Team) crashed out at Turn 1 on Lap 3 which put him out of the race, while Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) brought his bike into the pits after a Lap 1, Turn 15 crash. Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) crashed at Turn 10 shortly after he had been given a double Long Lap Penalty for a jump start, with the crash forcing him to retire. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) crashed at Turn 10 while running in the podium places.

Ondrej Vostatek (PTR Triumph) retired after completing 12 laps while Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) was not classified. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was considered a retirement after he unlapped himself as Mackenzie crossed the start-finish line but brought his bike into the pits on that lap rather than taking the chequered flag. He had been running in 15th.

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

1. Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team)

2. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +2.037s

3. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +18.857s

4. John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) +21.046s

5. Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) +22.206s

6. Thomas Gradinger (Eder Racing) +38.970s

Fastest Lap: Nicolo Bulega, Ducati – 1’35.027s – New Lap Record

1. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) 309 points

2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 262

3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 214

4. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) 167

5. Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 129

6. Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) 109

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