DEBUTANT VICTORY: Spinelli wins red-flagged Race 1 after intermediate tyre gamble pays off

Saturday, 20 April 2024 13:07 GMT

The Italian was the only rider to use the intermediate tyres in Race 1 and it paid off handsomely as he claimed a win on debut

A tyre gamble and a fortunately timed red flag allowed Nicholas Spinelli (Barni Spark Racing Team) to claim a stunning debut win in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, while it was also the team’s first win in the WorldSBK class. After bursting into the lead and pulling out a 25-second lead on intermediate tyres before his rivals started closing him down but, with the red flags shown at the TT Circuit Assen, the Italian was able to take a debut win during the Pirelli Dutch Round.

TYRE CHOICES: most on slicks… one on an all-intermediate call

Spinelli gambled with tyres by starting with a front and rear intermediate tyre on his Panigale V4 R, becoming a race leader in his first WorldSBK outing and moving four seconds clear at the end of Lap 1, before that increased to 14 seconds at the end of Lap 2. In doing so, he became the 10th youngest race leader in WorldSBK history. At the end of the opening lap, Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing Team), Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) and Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) all opted to pit, with Sam Lowes having an issue and dropping a lap down.

CONDITIONS IMPROVE, IANNONE CRASHES: Spinelli leads the way with a big margin

With conditions improving, riders on slick tyres were able to find grip and time, although Andrea Iannone (Team GoEleven) pushed a bit too hard and crashed at Turn 3 and he retired from the race. By the end of Lap 8, Spinelli’s lead was being cut with it coming down to 19 seconds as the track continued to dry. The fight was for second on track but a potential victory on the cards, with Alvaro Bautista ( Racing - Ducati), Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) all in the mix. The #54 ran wide at Turn 1 at the start of Lap 9, which allowed Bautista and Alex Lowes through, but he remained in contention for the podium.

RED FLAG COMES OUT: Spinelli on top, Razgatlioglu just beats Bautista

At the start of Lap 13, the gap was down to 11 seconds as he ran about three seconds slower on his intermediates, with Bautista leading the hunt of the Italian. However, on Lap 14, Razgatlioglu overtook Bautista at the final chicane to move into second place and was soon on Spinelli’s tail with his pace advantage. However, with the #54 closing in, the red flags were shown due to oil on track after Andrea Locatelli (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) had a technical issue at Turn 15 on Lap 15. It’s the first time WorldSBK’s had two debutant winners in a single season – after Nicolo Bulega ( Racing - Ducati) in Australia and Spinelli – since 1996 and only the third time in history. The red flag meant Razgatlioglu finished second with Bautista third. It was Razgatlioglu’s 120th podium as he closes in on Troy Corser in second place in the all-time list, while it was also Bautista’s 94th rostrum to put him level with Troy Bayliss.

JUST MISSING OUT: Gardner fourth, Rea sixth

Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) equalled his best WorldSBK result to take fourth place, finishing just six seconds away from Spinelli, with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) in fifth and Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) dropping down to sixth – still taking his best Yamaha result – but in what was the chasing group after starting from pole position. The last rider of the second group was Michael van der Mark (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) who finished seventh, just a tenth behind Rea.

BEST OF 2024: Redding claims first top ten of the season

Behind the battle for the podium was a smaller group fighting for the top eight, with Scott Redding (Bonovo Action BMW) taking his best result of 2024 in eighth, finishing six seconds down on van der Mark but ensured three BMWs were in the top eight. Axel Bassani (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) was quick in the opening stages and claimed ninth, his best result with Kawasaki, with Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) completing the top ten to equal his best result of the season.

IN THE POINTS: Bulega's Championship lead cut, Locatelli points despite technical problem

Bulega dropped out of the top ten to finish in 11th place, ahead of Locatelli who was classified in 12th despite his technical problem. Dominique Aegerter (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) was 13th after fighting his way up the grid, with Tarran Mackenzie (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda) equalling his best finish of 14th and Bradley Ray (Yamaha Motoxracing WorldSBK Team) completing the points scorers.

Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW), Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE Racing Honda), Philipp Oettl (GMT94 Yamaha) and Sam Lowes were the last classified riders. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Team Motocorsa Racing) retired after a technical problem, with Tito Rabat (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Iannone also non-finishers.

The top six from WorldSBK Race 1, full results here:

1 Nicholas Spinelli (Barni Spark Racing Team)

2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) +1.979s

3. Alvaro Bautista ( Racing - Ducati) +2.089s

4. Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) +4.851s

5. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) +5.147s

6. Jonathan Rea (Pata Prometeon Yamaha) +5.376s

Fastest lap: Toprak Razgatlioglu, BMW – 1’35.777s

Don’t miss tomorrow’s Tissot Superpole Race at 11:00 Local Time (UTC+2) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!