PREVIEW: match point for Bulega but can he take advantage as WorldSSP rolls into Aragon?

Tuesday, 19 September 2023 07:55 GMT

The Championship leader can wrap up the title in Spain if results go his way but Stefano Manzi will be looking for another huge swing in the Championship fight

The FIM Supersport World Championship heads to MotorLand Aragon for Round 10 of the 2023 campaign and it could be a memorable one for Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) as he looks to wrap up the title in Spain with his first ‘match point’ possible at the Tissot Aragon Round. Rival Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) will be doing everything in his power to prevent Bulega from being crowned as he looks to not only delay Bulega’s coronation but also change the momentum and take points out of the #11’s lead.

TITLE ON THE LINE: how can Bulega be crowned Champion?

Bulega needs to leave Aragon leading by 100 points or more ahead of his Yamaha rival and the gap is currently 60 points. His first chance to win the title will come in Race 2 with the #11 needing to outscore Manzi by 40 points across the two races, while also not being outscored by Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) by 22 points or more. It’s a tall ask given Manzi has, more often than not, stood on the rostrum with Bulega but this season has seen plenty of drama so far: don’t be surprised if there’s more at Aragon, a place where weather can often have the loudest say…

BATTLE FOR FIFTH: five points separate three riders

With Schroetter and Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) having their positions almost locked in – 55 points separate the duo with 100 available after Aragon – the next big fight is for P5 in the Championship. It’s currently led by Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) with Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) and Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) directly behind. Sofuoglu has won at Aragon in WorldSSP300 – back in 2020 – while Tuuli has been a regular top-eight contender. Debise goes into the Aragon Round fresh from his first two podiums but his last WorldSSP race at Aragon was back in 2012; he retired from that race.

FIGHTING FOR A TOP-TEN FINISH: several competitors in the mix

Behind that trio, there’s a four-way scrap for P8 brewing. Led by Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki), fresh from the news he’ll replace Bulega in 2024, the Spaniard will be looking to secure a top-ten Championship finish for the first time in WorldSSP. He sits on 111 points with Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) looking to overhaul the #99 and just six points back. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) has had a year of inconsistency and finds himself just inside the top ten on 103 points while rookie Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) is 11th and on 101 points. Will he be able to take advantage of his home round to haul himself inside the top ten?

ON THE VERGE: Booth-Amos can take WorldSSP Challenge title at Aragon

After a hard-fought campaign, Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) has his first match point for the WorldSSP Challenge. He can wrap it up if he outscores his main rival, Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) by 16 points over the weekend, Federico Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) by 11, Maximilian Kofler (D34G Racing) by five, Alvaro Diaz (Arco Yart Yamaha WorldSSP) by four and teammate Luke Power by two.

RIDER LINE-UP NEWS: Taccini returns, wildcards at Aragon

Following the news that John McPhee would leave Vince64 by Puccetti Racing, the team have drafted in Leonardo Taccini at Aragon for his first WorldSSP appearance since Australia 2022. At D34G Racing, Oli Bayliss once again misses out through injury, and he will be replaced by McPhee for the Scottish star’s first Ducati outing in WorldSSP. Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) will be replaced by MotoE™ race winner Hector Garzo, while Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) misses out through injury. His brother, Ibrahim, steps onto the bike. Two Spaniards will compete as wildcards on home soil. Julian Giral (Ducati Zaragoza) returns for the first time in a year to WorldSSP, while Yeraz Ruiz (MDR Offitec Yamaha) is set for his WorldSSP debut. Ruiz has previously been a top-ten contender in WorldSSP300 although he did not race at Aragon.

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