Bulega half-a-second clear after Friday WorldSSP action as FP2 mixes up the order

Friday, 24 February 2023 05:08 GMT

Italian rider Bulega found a half-second gap to his rivals after FP2 on Friday as he finished ahead of Manzi at the end of Friday’s two sessions

The FIM Supersport World Championship concluded its first Friday of 2023 at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round with two Italian riders at the top of the timesheets. Nicolo Bulega ( Racing WorldSSP Team) topped the times by more than half a second after Friday’s two Free Practice sessions ahead of Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) with half-a-second between the pair.

ITALY ON TOP: Bulega vs Manzi for top spot…

Both Bulega and Manzi spent time at the top of the timesheets during the day with Bulega posting a 1’32.852s in FP2 to top the times in the combined classification after he finished second in FP1. Manzi took top spot in FP1 and, while he improved his time in FP2, had to settle for second place in the second session after setting a 1’32.362s. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) was third after the two sessions despite two crashes throughout the day. In FP1, Huertas crashed at Turn 10 around 10 minutes into the session which brought out the red flags, while he crashed at the same corner in FP2 with around 10 minutes left.

INSTANT IMPACT: Spinelli surges to the top five

A host of Italian riders featured inside the top five with Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing Team) in fourth spot after setting a 1’33.755s although he did crash at Turn 10 at the end of FP2, although he didn’t lose out on any running. Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Racing Yamaha) was fifth after a strong start to his rookie campaign after he put in a late lap of 1’33.876s to take a top-five spot on debut, ahead of Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) with around one tenth between Spinelli and Oncu. Oncu’s day was interrupted by a technical problem on his opening lap of FP1 which cost him some running time.

ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN: a strong showing

German rookie Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) took seventh spot on his second WorldSSP appearance at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, lapping 1.119s slower than Bulega. He was followed by Dutch rider Glenn van Straalen (EAB Racing Team) took eighth place while Valentin Debise (GMT94 Yamaha) and Oli Bayliss (D34G Racing) rounded out the top ten; home hero Bayliss had a huge moment through the final corner during FP2 which forced him to make an incredible save.

INSIDE THE TOP 15: high hopes for the Australian Round

Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) was 11th after setting a 1’34.258s during FP2 as he finished ahead of Niki Tuuli (Dynavolt Triumph) in 12th, with the Finnish rider finishing as the lead Triumph rider on Friday. Yari Montella (Barni Spark Racing Team) took 13th place after he had an FP2 crash at Turn 6 just seven minutes into the session, while rookies Jorge Navarro (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) and Apiwath Wongthananon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) rounded out the top 15 positions.

LOOKING UP: a difficult day

Rookie Andrea Mantovani (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) was 16th on his first showing at Phillip Island and lapping 2.132s slower than Bulega’s time. He was ahead of Bahattin Sofuoglu (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), preparing for his second WorldSSP campaign but on his first weekend in Australia, as he took 17th place. Anupab Sarmoon (Yamaha Thailand Racing Team) was 18th ahead of John McPhee (Vince64 by Puccetti Racing) and Harry Truelove (Dynavolt Triumph) in 19th and 20th respectively. Honda duo Adam Norrodin (PETRONAS MIE MS Racing HONDA Team) and Tarran Mackenzie rounded out the WorldSSP field, with Mackenzie losing running in FP2 after a crash at Turn 10 in the early stages.

The top six following Friday action in Australia, full results here:

1. Nicolo Bulega ( WorldSSP Team) 1’32.852s

2. Stefano Manzi (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +0.510s

3. Adrian Huertas (MTM Kawasaki) +0.889

4. Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) +0.903s

5. Nicholas Spinelli (VFT Yamaha) 1.024s

6. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +1.123s

Follow all the action from Australia on Saturday at 12:25 Local Time (GMT+11) using the WorldSBK VideoPass!