After a six-week gap, the WorldSSP field returns to action in France to kick start the second half of the season
A well-deserved summer break is over, and riders are once again gearing up for the FIM Supersport World Championship as the Championship heads to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours for the Pirelli French Round. The title battle is well and truly on again following the last round in the Czech Republic with just 14 points separating the top two in the standings at the halfway point of the season.
GAME ON: Aegerter leads Baldassarri in the title fight
Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) comes into the French Round as the Championship leader, and he heads into the second half of the season after a thrilling title decider in MotoE™ at Misano too. Aegerter was kept busy during the summer break by his MotoE™ title fight, with the Swiss rider claiming the World Cup title after a thrilling title decider at Misano, but his focus now will solely be on WorldSSP with the World Cup now concluded. In 2021, he took victory in Race 1 at Magny-Cours and second in Race 2. Will he be able to repeat that and start increasing his Championship lead again after a Most to forget?
With a 14-point gap to Aegerter, Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) heads into the French Round after taking a huge 50 points out of Aegerter’s Championship lead following his double at the Autodrom Most. Magny-Cours is a circuit the Italian hasn’t visited before and he will be hoping he can get up to speed as quickly as possible as he looks to keep cutting the gap in the Championship.
THE BATTLE IN THE TOP FIVE HEATS UP: three riders separated by 39 points
There is an incredible battle inside the top five brewing as Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team), Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) and Stefano Manzi (Dynavolt Triumph) are all fighting for a top-three finish in the standings. Bulega is currently leading the pack with a 39-point advantage but will race at Magny-Cours for the first time, while it will also be Ducati’s first time at the track since 2006. Bulega comes into the French Round with four podiums in his last six races, but still in search of his first win in the Championship. Can the Italian rookie cause an upset in France?
In contrast to Bulega’s podium form, Oncu has not stood on the rostrum in eight races since Race 2 at the TT Circuit Assen. Magny-Cours is a circuit Oncu has gone well at in both 2020 and 2021, claiming four top-eight finishes in four races including a third place in Race 2 last year. The Turkish star will be looking to kickstart the second half of his campaign with a return to the podium, and he will need to keep an eye on the hard-charging Manzi in that battle. The rookie is yet to finish outside the top ten in WorldSSP when he has finished races, whilst he is on a run of six consecutive top six finishes and two podium finishes which has hauled him up the standings. It’ll be his first time at Magny-Cours in WorldSSP, and Triumph’s first since 2018 in WorldSSP, but recent form for both Triumph and Manzi could suggest a potential podium in France.
MOVING FORWARD: can MV Agusta keep up their Most form?
The MV Agusta Reparto Corse squad enjoyed their best round of the season at the Autodrom Most with Niki Tuuli, returning from injury and surgery, claiming sixth and tenth and Turkish rookie Bahattin Sofuoglu taking fifth and seventh, his two best results in his maiden WorldSSP campaign. With Tuuli having more time to continue his recovery and training, and Sofuoglu continuing to adapt to WorldSSP, will Magny-Cours be a happy hunting ground for MV Agusta? Tuuli’s only WorldSSP victory so far came at the French circuit in 2017 whilst Sofuoglu took one podium at Magny-Cours in WorldSSP300; his only podium outside of Spain. In the WorldSSP Challenge, with three rounds to go, Sofuoglu leads the way with 36 points, 13 clear of second-placed Marcel Brenner (VFT Racing).
HOUSEKEEPING: returning riders and wildcards
It’ll be a busy weekend for the GMT94 Yamaha squad as Jules Cluzel makes his return from injury, subject to medical clearance, with the Frenchman continuing his training after sustaining an injury at Donington Park. He will be joined by teammate Andy Verdoia, but there will be two additional GMT94 Yamaha machines on the grid with two wildcard riders. Valentin Debise makes his second appearance of the season for the team and he will be joined by Matthieu Gregorio for his first WorldSSP outing. At Kallio Racing, Simon Jespersen returns for his second appearance of 2022 with the team and third overall while Isaac Vinales continues to stand in for Filippo Fuligni at D34G Racing.
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