Manzi pips Bulega to first WorldSSP honours in 2023 as he leads Italian 1-2 in Australia

Friday, 24 February 2023 00:35 GMT

The Ten Kate Racing Yamaha rider was less than a tenth clear of compatriot Nicolo Bulega to start the 2023 season on top

The 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship got underway at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round with Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) topping the times, ensuring his new team started the new campaign as they finished the old one. Manzi was less than a tenth clear of Nicolo Bulega (Aruba,it Racing WorldSSP Team) in the 45-minute Free Practice 1 session which was disrupted by an early red flag.

Manzi’s best time was a 1’33.514s as he topped the times by 0.079s ahead of Bulega, with the two fastest riders from the Official Test going head-to-head at the start of the 2023 campaign. Third place went to Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was third despite an early-session crash as he lapped in 1’33.741s. Huertas had a Turn 10 crash less than 10 minutes into the session which brought out the red flags as his bike was recovered. Huertas ensured three different manufacturers were represented inside the top three.

Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) was running inside the top three during the session until Huertas put in a late lap, with the Italian posting a 1’33.755s for a top four spot. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was fifth after a dramatic opening session of his 2023 campaign. Oncu suffered a technical issue just a minute into the session which limited his running although he was able to return his bike to the pit lanes. German rider Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) took sixth on his second WorldSSP appearance at Phillip Island.

French rider Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) was seventh as the sole GMT94 Yamaha rider in WorldSSP, lapping just over half a second down from Manzi. Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing), the sole Australian rider on the grid, was in eighth place after setting a 1’34.236s, while Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) and Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) rounded out the top ten.

The top six from WorldSSP FP1, full results here:

1. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha)

2. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) +0.079s

3. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +0.227s

4. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +0.241s

5. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.558s

6. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.565s

Watch WorldSSP FP2 from 15:00 Local Time (GMT+11) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!