Back of the grid to 8th: Manzi headlines Triumph’s return to World Supersport

Tuesday, 12 April 2022 07:39 GMT

A familiar team, a familiar manufacturer but a new name: could Stefano Manzi and Triumph cause a surprise this year?

The 2022 FIM Supersport World Championship has already raised the roof after the first round of a new season. Thrilling racing resulting in Championship leader and reigning World Champion Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) being tied on points with WorldSSP rookie Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team), with them on 45 each. However, it was also a return to action for Triumph, as the new 765cc Street Triple made its World Championship debut and certainly proved its potential.

Race 1 saw Stefano Manzi (Dynavolt Triumph) and teammate Hannes Soomer debut the new bike in the class, with Manzi likewise getting underway in his rookie season. Finishing the first race of the new era, Manzi took a hearty seventh whilst Soomer came home in eleventh, although drama would follow as Race 2 got underway. Manzi, who had originally qualified in 13th after Tissot Superpole, had to start from the back of the grid, with a tyre pressure infringement costing the Italian dearly.

However, despite this massive set-back, Manzi rode like a man possessed on his way to what would be a staggering eighth place finish, less than ten seconds from the podium. As for teammate Hannes Soomer, he came home in tenth place, making it the first double top ten for Triumph since Donington Park 2017, when Luke Stapleford and Jack Kennedy took fourth and fifth respectively.

Talking about his race, rookie Manzi said: “It was not bad. The team made a little mistake with the tyre pressure, so I had to start from the back of the grid. The start of the race was bad, because I did a lot overtaking and then, when I had a clear track, I tried to do my pace, which was faster than Race 1. I am not happy about the result but after starting last, it’s not bad.

“I didn’t do any testing in the preseason because of injury, I only jumped on the bike during the Supported Test at Aragon, and then we only had Free Practice each day, so we don’t have many laps. However, since the first lap on the bike, I feel good. Now we are working to improve our performance. The next race is Assen, a track that I love! Every track we go to now has a new style, but Assen remains old. I don’t know what to expect about this year, we started everything in the round because of the injury. We will try to do our best!”

Talking about the first race weekend back and summing up the second race day, team manager Simon Buckmaster hailed a “fantastic job”: “We have worked hard this weekend and improved so we can’t be too displeased. A good step up in Race 2 for Hannes. To Stefano, we have to apologise because it’s a team mistake and what a fantastic job to fight through to eighth. Of course, he’s not happy but everyone is human, and we will make sure it doesn’t happen again. We are looking forward to Assen and we will build on the positives.”

With Assen calling World Supersport action for the next round of the Championship, and it being a track that Manzi loves, expect to see the Triumph more; Manzi’s best Moto2™ result at the venue was a seventh, one of his best rides in the class back in 2019. On the other side of the garage, Hannes Soomer will aim to bounce back at the iconic Dutch venue, where he holds his best WorldSSP grid position, with a fourth in 2019.

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