Phillip Island WorldSBK: Mahias begins title defence with win

Picture: GeeBee Images

Today’s first attempted running of the WorldSSP race at Phillip Island’s WorldSBK round saw a red flag thrown after three laps, after a crash between Hannes Soomer and Michael Canducci at the fast turn 11.

The restart, over a straight nine-lap fight with no planned pitstop needed anymore, was led once more by reigning Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha) who set a new lap record on lap two. His 1’33.252 beat the previous best set in 2013, under different technical rules, but would not last until the end of the 2018 race.

Behind Mahias, Swiss rider Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Yamaha) and young Italian Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) were early podium contenders, with Krummenacher eventually second by 1.274 seconds.

After a good start Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) found himself outpaced by some of his main rivals, dropping to sixth with six laps gone, and then overtaken by the MV of Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag). Sofuoglu would finish 13th, after slowing near the end.

Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing Yamaha) set a new lap record of 1’33.072 lap five of nine. He would go on to win a close fight for third with Caricasulo, in his first ever WorldSSP race.

Race-long contender Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing Triumph) was fifth, De Rosa sixth.

A big gap had developed back to Jules Cluzel (NRT Yamaha) in seventh, and the top ten was rounded out by Kyle Smith (GEMAR Team Lorini Honda), Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) and Thomas Gradinger (NRT Yamaha).

Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing Kawasaki) was forced to retire after experiencing a technical problem on his machine. Lachlan Epis (Team GoEleven Kawasaki) experienced a technical problem and failed to score.

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