Geiger claims Imola Race 2 victory over Vannucci after late track limits drama

Sunday, 16 July 2023 14:21 GMT

Matteo Vannucci thought he had done an Imola double but a track limits penalty demoted him to second behind Dirk Geiger


Dirk Geiger (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) was declared the Race 2 winner at the stunning Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari di Imola following a post-race track limits penalty for rival Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha). The pair were fighting hard right for the entire race with the Italian crossing the line in first, but a track limits infringement on the final lap demoted the Race 1 winner to second. The German hauled himself up the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship standings into top spot under the scorching sun in Italy while Mirko Gennai (Team BrCorse), topping the standings heading into Race 2, retired with a technical problem.

THREE-WAY FIGHT: Vannucci vs Geiger vs Maier

Geiger initially got away well as the lights went out and looked to pull out a gap as the pack behind him squabbled over track position. By the start of Lap 2, Vannucci had caught up along with Humberto Maier (AD78 Team Brasil by MS Racing) as the top three broke away. The home hero moved into the lead into the Tamburello chicane but there was very little to separate the lead trio while they pulled out a gap of almost four seconds at around the halfway stage.

In what was a similar story to Race 1, the lead riders opted not to fight too hard as they extended the gap over the group behind. As the race reached the two-thirds distance, they started swapping positions. Geiger made his first move on Vannucci at the Villeneuve chicane on Lap 9, but his Italian rival was able to respond immediately with an incredible move around the outside of Tosa. It was a move he repeated a lap later with the #91 this time opting for the inside of Tosa to re-gain P1.  Vannucci and Geiger pulled away from Maier on the final lap as they went head-to-head for victory, with Vannucci just holding on.

The German tried to make a move into the Variante Alta on the final lap, but Vannucci defended before Geiger looked to get alongside heading into Rivazza 1. The KTM rider cut back to take the inside line into Rivazza 2, but Vannucci got the better line and exit to lead into the final chicane and across the line. However, Vannucci was deemed to have exceeded track limits at Turn 13 on the final lap which demoted him behind Geiger. The KTM rider has now taken three consecutive podium finishes, while Maier’s third place was his fourth in the Championship. Geiger’s first place means that, coupled with Gennai not scoring due to a technical issue, means he now leads the Championship – the first time a KTM rider has led the Riders’ Championship since Aragon in 2018.

A STRONG DAY FOR KTM: two bikes in the top five for the first time since 2018

2020 Champion Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) headed the battle for fourth with P4 to P14 separated by just 3.3s; once again, highlighting the unpredictable nature of WorldSSP300. The Dutchman was three tenths clear of Lennox Lehmann (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) in fifth with two KTM riders inside the top five for the first time since Brno in 2018. Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing BGR) took sixth place, around one second down on Buis and six tenths away from Lehmann ahead.

POST-RACE PENALTIES: a change in the top ten…

Home hero Kevin Sabatucci (Team Flembbo – PI Performances) was seventh as he narrowly missed out on a home rostrum, while Petr Svoboda (Fusport – RT Motorsport by SKM – Kawasaki) was eighth and lost ground in the Championship standings; dropping to third place. There was a post-race penalty which decided the bottom end of the top ten. Devis Bergamini (ProGP Racing) had crossed the line in ninth but a one-place penalty for exceeding track limits on the final lap at Turn 22 demoted him to tenth behind wildcard Bruno Ieraci (ProDina Kawasaki Racing).

FIGHTING HARD: the fastest lap is set from outside the top 10

Alessandro Zanca (Team#109 Kawasaki) was around half-a-second down on the top ten as he finished in 11th with Jose Manuel Osuna Saez (Deza-Box 77 Racing Team) in 12th. The Spaniard set the fastest lap of the race as he showed his potential although couldn’t match or equal his best result of the season (ninth in Barcelona). Marco Gaggi (Team BrCorse) was 13th with Julio Garcia (Team Flembbo – PI Performances) and Loris Veneman (MTM Kawasaki) completing the points-scoring positions.

HOUSEKEEPING: retirements and penalties from a dramatic Race 2

Enzo Valentim (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team) had crossed the line in 19th place but was demoted one spot for exceeding track limits with a shortcut at Turn 22 on the final lap. This promoted Mexican Juan Pablo Uriostegui (Team#109 Kawasaki) into 19th with the Brazilian classified in 20th.

Ruben Bijman (Acro Motor University Team) retired after he had a crash with Alfonso Coppola (Sublime Racing by MS Racing) at Turn 12, with the Dutchman taken to the medical centre for a check-up and the incident placed under investigation by the FIM Stewards. Coppola was given a three-second penalty, in lieu of a Long Lap Penalty, for his role in the collision and was classified 26th. Fenton Seabright (Kawasaki GP Project) crashed at Turn 7 on Lap 9 to drop him down the order; he re-joined the race but brought his bike into the pits to retire. Roberto Jason Sarchi (Gradaracorse) was classified in 27th after he crashed at Turn 7 on Lap 2; the wildcard re-joining the race but finishing last.

Michel Agazzi (Sublime Racing by MS Racing) was also not classified. The Italian was ordered to start from the back of the grid due to a tyre pressure infringement, and then he was not allowed to continue the race.

The top six from WorldSSP300 Race 2, full results here:

1. Dirk Geiger (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing)

2. Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha) +0.213s

3. Humberto Maier (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team) +4.113s

4. Jeffrey Buis (MTM Kawasaki) +8.983s

5. Lennox Lehmann (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) +9.297s

6. Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing BGR) +9.842s

Fastest Lap: Jose Manuel Osuna Saez (Kawasaki) – 2’06.911s

Championship standings

1. Dirk Geiger (Freudenberg KTM – Paligo Racing) 116 points

2. Matteo Vannucci (AG Motorsport Italia Yamaha) 99

3. Petr Svoboda (Fusport – RT Motorsport by SKM – Kawasaki) 95

4. Mirko Gennai (Team BrCorse) 95

5. Humberto Maier (Yamaha MS Racing/AD78 Latin America Team) 92

6. Jose Luis Perez Gonzalez (Accolade Smrz Racing BGR) 90