Huertas takes maiden WorldSSP pole despite crash after smashing Phillip Island lap record

Friday, 23 February 2024 05:52 GMT

The new 40-minute Tissot Superpole session provided drama throughout as WorldSSP welcomed a brand-new polesitter

Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) claimed a stunning pole position for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round despite a late crash in the 40-minute Tissot Superpole session. The #99 was fastest from the start at the legendary Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit but a Turn 11 highside brought his session to a premature end, although the Spaniard was still able to claim his first FIM Supersport World Championship pole position.

THE FIRST HALF: lap record pace for the newest polesitter

With the threat of rain hanging over the field, there was a rush to get an early lap time in to the 40-minute session, with Huertas smashing the lap record with a 1’31.934s to take provisional pole, ahead of Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), although Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) also went sub-1’31s as he set a 1’31.954s, just 0.020s behind his fellow Ducati rider. However, in his second stint, Huertas posted a 1’31.519s to extend the gap to fourth tenths.

THE RAIN FALLS… AND STOPS AGAIN: a 10-minute flurry at the end of Superpole

Around halfway through the session, drops of rain were reported in sector one before all sectors reported precipitation just a few minutes later, meaning Huertas’ time remained unchallenged until the final 10 minutes, when Montella set a 1’31.566s to close the gap to 0.047s. Huertas started his third stint later than the #55 as he went a tenth quicker before trying to improve on his next lap. However, he had a highside through Turn 11 which ended his session; he was taken to the medical centre following the crash and declared fit. Huertas becomes the 57th different rider to claim pole in WorldSSP and the second rider to have pole position in both WorldSSP300 and WorldSSP. 

ON THE SECOND ROW: Manzi close behind his rivals…

With rain coming down in sectors one and two in the final minutes, the session came to an effective early end as riders were unable to improve their lap times. Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) will line up from fourth on the Race 1 grid, ahead of Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) and Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha), with the French duo showing impressive speed after their switch of teams for the 2024 season.

THIRD ROW START DESPITE CRASHING: Sofuoglu, Caricasulo and Navarro all tumble

Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was seventh after his session was cut short by a crash at Lukey Heights on the lap after he set his best time. His best time was 1’31.219s to claim a third-row start for Race 1, but he was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following his crash and later declared fit. He’ll be joined by Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) on row three, with ‘Carica’ also crashing during the session. He went down at Turn 11 but was able to bring his bike back to the pits and re-joined the action later on. Jorge Navarro (WRP-RT Motorsport by SKM-Triumph) will start ninth ahead of Niki Tuuli (EAB Racing Team). Navarro crashed at around the same time as Caricasulo but at Turn 4 and was able to re-join the action.

HOUSEKEEPING: dramatic opening ten minutes

It was a frantic start to the session, with Navarro, Caricasulo, and Glenn van Straalen (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) crashing at roughly the same time at different corners, with van Straalen coming down at Turn 2. Meanwhile, Niccolo Antonelli (Ecosantagata Althea Racing Team) had stopped at Turn 8, halting his first Superpole session, before he re-joined the session but had to pull off the track on the start-finish straight. Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) will start 20th after he took a Turn 4 tumble.

The top six from WorldSSP Superpole, full results here:

1. Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) 1’31.407s

2. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +0.159s 

3. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) +0.412s

4. Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) +0.598s

5. Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) +0.634s

6. Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) +0.744s

Don’t miss Race 1 on Saturday at 14:30 Local Time (UTC+11) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!