The FIM Supersport World Championship title race took a huge twist at Donington Park as Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) doubled up on British wins while Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) had a mixed day after claiming fifth following a crash and a penalty. History was made during the Prosecco DOC UK Round with the first all-Ducati podium in the Championship’s history as Bulega extended his title lead with half the season completed.
HISTORY MADE: a first-time occurrence in WorldSSP…
The fight for victory was between a trio of Italian riders in the opening stages. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) surged into the lead as the lights went out as he looked to go one better than his Race 1 second place, but he soon found himself demoted to P2 as Championship leader Bulega battled his way into the lead with a move at Turn 9 on the opening lap. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) forced his way into second place on Lap 2 as he lunged Montella at Turn 11, but he soon fell down the order.
A crash at Turn 11 on Lap 5 dropped him to tenth place but he soon fought his way back up. On Lap 7, he passed Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) at Turn 1 aggressively to move into seventh, before overtaking home hero Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) at Turn 11 on the same lap. On Lap 9, the FIM Stewards gave the Italian a Long Lap Penalty for irresponsible riding after he forced Mahias onto the grass on the exit of Turn 1, which he took a lap later before fighting his way back.
With the Yamaha rider dropping out of contention, Bulega was able to pull away from the chasing group with Montella and Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team). The #11 was posting lap record pace throughout the race with a best of 1’29.018s on Lap 4 as he extended his Championship lead over Manzi. Montella finished two seconds down on his compatriot but he fended off ‘Carica’ to claim his second consecutive second place finish with Caricasulo securing third place. Montella’s pace was so strong that he set his personal best lap on the final lap to make sure the #64 was unable to challenge him.
Ducati secured their first podium lockout in WorldSSP while it was the fifth all-Italian podium of 2023. Bulega’s victory gave him his eighth World Supersport win to put him level with Sam Lowes in the all-time list. Montella’s rostrum gave him his third in the Championship and consecutive podium finishes for the first time, while Caricasulo moved up to fifth in the all-time list, level with Broc Parkes, with his 32nd rostrum.
MAN-ZI ON A MISSION: ups and downs for Manzi, best results for others as Schroetter crashes
2021 WorldSSP300 Champion Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) took his best result since graduating to WorldSSP as he claimed fourth place, missing out on a podium by just a few seconds, with Manzi coming home in fifth. He took his Long Lap Penalty on Lap 10 and re-joined back down the order. He passed Debise again on Lap 11 before overtaking Booth-Amos for the second time at Turn 11 for sixth; he was promoted to fifth when Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) crashed on Lap 15 at Turn 12 which put the German rider out of contention. He was taken to the medical centre for a check-up following the crash and diagnosed with contusions to his left scapular and back. Booth-Amos did stay with Manzi in the final few laps but was unable to re-pass the Championship
BOUNCING BACK: finishing the weekend strongly
Debise took seventh place as he enjoyed a strong weekend on his return to World Supersport following illness, with Turkish star Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) in eighth. The Barcelona race winner had crashes on Friday and in Sunday Warm Up, but he was able to respond in Race 2 to claim a top-ten finish after fending off Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) in the closing stages as the pair battled at Donington. Dutchman Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) was just behind the fight as he rounded out the top ten.
SUZUKI SCORE: a points-paying return
Rookie Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) just missed out on a place in the top ten as he finished 11th, with Finalnd’s Tuuli taking 12th. Andy Verdoia (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) scored points on his return to action as he stands in for Apiwath Wongthananon. Verdoia, the youngest-ever race winner in WorldSSP, finished 13th and less than a second clear of Tom Edwards (Yart-Yamaha WorldSSP Team) in 14th while it was a point-scoring return for Suzuki. Wildcard Rhys Irwin (Astro-JJR Suzuki) secured 15th place on his WorldSSP debut.
HOUSEKEEPING: dramatic Race 2 at Donington
Harry Truelove (Dynavolt Triumph) retired from Race 2 in the opening stages, while French rider Mahias brought his ZX-6R machine into the pits at around the halfway stage as he also retired. Wildcard Eugene McManus (Completely Motorbikes Triumph) had his race ended after two crashes in quick succession. He went down at Turn 12 on Lap 10 before re-joining but he went down again at Turn 1 on the next lap.
The top six from WorldSSP Race 2, full results here:
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team)
2. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) +2.119s
3. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) +3.629s
4. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +7.880s
5. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +11.657
6. Tom Booth-Amos (Motozoo ME AIR Racing) +12.721s
Fastest lap: Nicolo Bulega, Ducati – 1’29.018s (New Lap Record)
1. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) 247 points
2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) 192
3. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) 156
4. Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) 156
5. Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) 93
6. Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) 89
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