Oncu edges Bulega for top spot on Day 1 at Assen in WorldSSP, 0.005s in it

Friday, 21 April 2023 15:15 GMT

The Turkish rider left it until the final 10 minutes of the session to post his fastest time to leapfrog Championship leader Nicolo Bulega

The FIM Supersport World Championship burst back into action on Friday at the iconic and historic TT Circuit Assen for the Pirelli Dutch Round and there was nothing to separate the top two in the timesheets at the end of Friday’s action. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) led the way in both Free Practice 2 and the combined classification, finishing just 0.005s clear of Championship leader Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team).

TOO CLOSE TO CALL: Oncu just leads the way…

Oncu posted a best time of 1’37.951s, coming in the closing stages of FP2, on his Kawasaki ZX-6R to finish on top of the timesheets as he finished ahead of five Italian riders. In second was Bulega who posted s 1’37.596s to finish only 0.005s behind Oncu. Bulega had initially gone fastest before Oncu pipped the Championship leader. The pair had a gap of more than half-a-second to third-placed Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) in third place, with the Italian racing for the first time in WorldSSP since he sustained injuries in Australia. Montella’s best time was a 1’38.172s.

A FIERCE FIGHT BUILDING: unpredictable action ahead

Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) took fourth spot courtesy of his 1’38.225s set in FP2 as he, like all riders, go in search of a strong result at the start of the European part of the season. He finished ahead of Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) in fifth place, with Manzi’s day coming to a premature end after he crashed at Turn 10 in Free Practice 2. His best time was a 1’38.316s, set in the opening session of the day, to finish ahead of Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) in sixth place.

A DISRUPTED DAY: crashes but strong pace

Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) was seventh at the end of the day but he, like Manzi, had a disrupted day. Navarro was caught out when Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) crashed exiting the chicane in the early stages of FP1 with both riders going down and the red flags being deployed. Navarro returned to the track in FP1 but, in FP2, had another crash at Turn 10 which interrupted his running in the afternoon. Navarro was able to take P7 with a best time of 1’38.433s while Bayliss was 29th and four seconds down on Oncu’s pace.

Eighth place belonged to Finnish rider Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) as he lapped 0.854s slower than Oncu in the combined classification, while Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was ninth after setting a 1’38.520s. Huertas is making his comeback from injuries sustained in a crash involving Montella at Phillip Island and he was able to finish ahead of home hero Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) in tenth place. The Dutchman’s best time was a 1’38.532s set in Free Practice 2.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP 15: closing in on a place in the top ten

Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was the fastest MV Agusta rider in 11th place with teammate Marcel Schroetter in 12th with the two teammates separated by only 0.004s as they look to break into the top ten. French rider Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) was 13th ahead of Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) in 14th; Booth-Amos was the highest-placed WorldSSP Challenge rider on Friday at Assen. Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) rounded out the top 15 with a best time of 1’39.610s, less than a tenth slower than Booth-Amos.

HOUSEKEEPING: to note from WorldSSP

The session was disrupted by a red flag which was shown when a piece of the fairing came off Alvaro Diaz’s (Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP) Yamaha YZF R6 machine at the final chicane. It was a brief red flag to allow a marshal to pick up the debris before the session resumed a few minutes later. Diaz’s first day in WorldSSP was limited in running after issues in FP1, with the reigning WorldSSPP300 Champion finishing in 30th place with a best time of 1’42.576s, while fellow WorldSSP rookie Yuta Okaya (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) was 27th on his WorldSSP debut.

The top six following WorldSSP Friday action, full results here:

1. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) 1’37.591s

2. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) +0.005s

3. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.581s

4. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) +0.634s

5. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.725s

6. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +0.749s

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