INSIDE THE 1’31s: Montella pips Caricasulo at Phillip Island Official Test with record-breaking pace

Monday, 19 February 2024 07:03 GMT

Yari Montella and Federico Caricasulo made a bit of WorldSSP history in Australia as the Official Test for the WorldSSP field concluded with 0.062s between the pair

Yari Montella’s (Barni Spark Racing Team) preparations for the 2024 FIM Supersport World Championship were completed in the best possible fashion as he topped the times by 0.062s ahead of Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing). The two Italians were the only riders to lap in the 1’31s bracket at the newly-resurfaced Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, the final test day for the WorldSSP field before the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.


Caricasulo’s first Official Test with his new Motozoo ME AIR Racing team couldn’t have gone much better as he set a 1’31.943s to post the first ever 1’31s lap of the legendary Phillip Island circuit, going two tenths quicker than Andrea Locatelli’s pole lap record of 1’31.176s from 2020, although he did have a crash at Turn 4 in FP1 which impacted his testing programme. However, in the final 30 minutes of the session, Montella overhauled his time by 0.062s to claim top spot in both FP1 and FP2, unofficially smashing the lap record. Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) claimed third with a 1’32.183s, matching Locatelli’s pole lap record but finishing three tenths down on Montella.

HUERTAS QUICK DESPITE CRASH: P4 for the Spaniard, four tenths separate the top six

Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) comes into 2024 having replaced last year’s Champion, Nicolo Bulega, and started his Ducati career with P4 at the Official Test. The #99’s day was disrupted by a crash at Turn 9 in the final hour of FP2, with his bike brought back to the pits, but his 1’32.290s was enough to secure fourth. Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) claimed fifth place with Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in sixth despite losing time in FP1 thanks to a technical problem. He was 0.453s slower than Montella.

STRONG STARTS FOR NEW BEGINNINGS: Mahias, Booth-Amos and Navarro all in the top ten

2017 Champion Lucas Mahias (GMT94 Yamaha) is returning to WorldSSP on a full-time basis, and he showed his speed with P7 on Day 1 on his Yamaha YZF-R6 as he lapped half-a-second down on Montella. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) was eighth as he looks to build on his stunning 2023 rookie campaign, with two Triumph riders just behind him and rounding out the top ten. Tom Booth-Amos (PTR Triumph), who’s switched to the Street Triple RS 765 for this season, was ninth ahead of Jorge Navarro (WRP-RT Motorsport by SKM-Triumph) in tenth as the team get ready for their WorldSSP debut. Despite his strong day, the #9’s FP1 session was impacted by a Turn 10 tumble.

TIME TO GAIN? Inside the top 15 at the test…

Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) narrowly missed out on a spot in the top ten as he finished the day in P11, only 0.017s clear of home hero Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) in 12th with the Australian planning on completing a long run in FP2. Rookie Niccolo Antonelli (Ecosantagata Althea Racing Team) was 13th ahead of the returning Lorenzo Baldassarri (Orelac Racing VerdNatura), looking to mount a title challenge in 2024, in 14th. Niki Tuuli (EAB Racing Team) completed the top 15th.

DRAMATIC DAY: red flags disrupt running

There were several red flags throughout the day, mostly due to birds on track, which caused some disruption. However, Piotr Biesiekirski (Ecosantagata Althea Racing Team) brought out the red flags when he crashed at Turn 2 with just over an hour to go, with the Polish rider taken to the medical centre. At the end of the session, he was transported to hospital by helicopter; he is conscious but suffered a head injury and concussion. Marcel Brenner (VIAMO Racing by MTM) also crashed, this time at Turn 6, which disrupted his day although, as it came in the final hour, his lost running was kept to a minimum. Glenn van Straalen (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) had a technical problem during FP2 when his bike came to a halt at Turn 11.

The top six from the Official Test for WorldSSP, full results here:

1.⁠ ⁠Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) 1’31.881s

2.⁠ ⁠Federico Caricasulo (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) +0.062s

3.⁠ ⁠Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) +0.302s

4.⁠ ⁠Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) +0.409s

5.⁠ ⁠Valentin Debise (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +0.444s

6.⁠ ⁠Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.453s

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