The trio of Italians rounded out the podium positions, with the battle for second going right to the wire; Ten Kate Racing secure the 2023 Teams’ Championship
Nicolo Bulega’s penultimate FIM Supersport World Championship race ended with another victory by more than four seconds ahead of his rivals at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto to take his 15th win of the season, while the battle for second went right to the line. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) took second ahead of Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) at the Prometeon Spanish Round, with the pair separated by less than a tenth at the end of the 17-lap race.
BULEGA BRILLIANCE CLAIMS VICTORY: he finishes clear of incredible fight for second
As seen so often throughout 2023, Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) got the holeshot and used his early race pace advantage to full effect, pulling out a gap of just under two seconds in the first few laps. Despite starting from the front row, Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) dropped back as the lights went out but was soon fighting back as he went in search of his first win. However, he was out of contention early in the race, when he crashed at Turn 6 on Lap 5 while fighting with Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) for the podium places; not long after, teammate Bahattin Sofuoglu, who started from the pitlane, went down at the same corner. Both re-joined the race, but outside the points. Sofuoglu had battled his way close to the points but was given a Long Lap Penalty for irresponsible riding by the FIM Stewards.
Schroetter’s crash promoted Caricasulo to second and Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) to third, with the two Italians fighting for the podium places, while it also gave Bulega a four-second lead over the chasing pack. The #62 pulled off a typically aggressive move on ‘Carica’ on Lap 7 to claim second, with Caricasulo attempting to respond a lap later into Turn 6. He was able to pull alongside him but had a moment under braking, costing him time. He was able to make up that time to have another look at passing the Yamaha at the same corner a couple of laps later, but Manzi was able to resist his rival’s challenge.
On the penultimate lap, the Ducati rider looked to make a move under braking heading into the Turn 6 hairpin and, while he was able to get ahead, could not stop his bike in time and ran wide which allowed the #62 back through. Despite his best efforts, Manzi stayed ahead to claim second place with ‘Carica’ in third. Bulega took his 15th win of the season, two behind the all-time record of 17 with only one race left, while it was Manzi’s 21st podium in WorldSSP. For Caricasulo, it was his 34th rostrum visit while the trio were on the podium for the fifth time, equalling the record with two combinations: Dominique Aegerter, Lorenzo Baldassarri and Bulega as well as Joan Lascorz, Eugene Laverty and Kenan Sofuoglu.
NAVARRO PIPS DEBISE TO FOURTH: another battle decided on the final lap
Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) took fourth after a late battle with Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha). The Frenchman had been running in fourth, and looked like he was closing in on the podium battle, but he lost to fourth to the #9. Their battle ran right to the wire, with Navarro beating Debise by just 0.055s. The two Ten Kate Racing riders’ results meant that the Dutch squad were able to wrap up the Teams’ Championship with a race to spare. Navarro’s compatriot, Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki), ended his run of retirements with sixth place. The #99 battled with Navarro in the early stages before losing three seconds to the #9, finishing in sixth.
WILDCARD IMPRESSES DESPITE CRASH: Ruiz shows Spanish strength
Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) claimed seventh wand was only 1.5 seconds away from the top six, while he finished eight seconds clear of a fierce fight for eighth. The battle was won by Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) ahead of Niki Tuuli (PTR Triumph) and Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team). However, it had been a four-way scrap with wildcard Yeray Ruiz (MDR Offitec Yamaha) impressing with his tenacity and speed. However, the Spaniard crashed on the final lap at Turn 5 which ended his chances of a maiden top ten.
FROM PITLANE TO POINTS: Corsi takes 12th, Schroetter recovers for one points
Turkish star Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) put in another points-scoring race despite losing time in the closing stages of the race, as he searches for full fitness. He took 11th, more than five seconds back from van Straalen, but 3.5 seconds clear of Simone Corsi (Altogo Racing Team). The Italian started from the pit lane due to a technical infringement but was able to fight his way to 12th. Czech rider Ondrej Vostatek (PTR Triumph) was 13th ahead of Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) in 14th and Schroetter in 15th; the German fighting back after his crash for a point, with teammate Sofuoglu in 16th after serving his Long Lap Penalty.
HOUSEKEEPING: dramatic start to the penultimate race of the year
The opening couple of laps featured several crashes. Wildcard Emanuele Pusceddu (J.Angel by Edafos) crashed at Turn 1, with Filippo Fuligni (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) involved, and was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following his tumble. He was conscious but declared unfit with concussion, and the Italian was transported to hospital for further assessments. On the same lap, Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) crashed at Turn 7, and, like his compatriot, he went to the medical centre for a check-up. He was declared unfit with a fracture to the left metacarpal bone on his hand. On Lap 2, Malaysian rider Muhammad Mohd Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda Team) crashed at Turn 6. Although he re-joined the race, he opted to bring his bike into the pits to retire.
It was a dramatic day for two one event riders who had shown promise prior to Race 1. Melvin van der Voort (Team SWPN), and Gabriele Giannini (ProDina Kawasaki Racing) crashed at Turn 9 with both retiring from the race. The incident was investigated by the FIM Stewards. In the final third of the race, Miquel Pons (Zeus Motorsport) brought his Yamaha machine into the pits and retired.
The top six from WorldSSP Race 1, full results here:
1 Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team)
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +4.892s
3. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +4.931s
4. Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +8.335s
5. Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) +8.390s
6. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +11.557s
Fastest Lap: Nicolo Bulega (Ducati), 1’41.875s – new lap record
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