WorldSBK Catalunya: Aegerter maintains advantage in WorldSSP race one

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ten Kate Yamaha’s Dominique Aegerter dominated WorldSSP race one with a three-second advantage at Barcelona on Saturday.

An early red flag gave way to a dramatic sprint race as Evan Bros. Yamaha’s Lorenzo Baldassarri held off Puccetti Kawasaki’s Can Öncü and Federico Caricasulo in the battle for second. The Althea Ducati unlucky to miss out on a podium position on the final lap.

Aegerter headed the grid for his fifth pole of the year with Öncü and Caricasulo alongside on the front row. Title-rival Baldassarri threatening behind as the Evan Bros. R6 lined up in fourth.

The might of the Ducati promoted Caricasulo into the lead as the lights went out, Aruba’s Nicolo Bulega joining for second with Aegerter dropped to third. Peter Sebestyen crashing out in the opening action.

A Ducati swap found Bulega in charge next time around before Caricasulo dropped back to fourth. Aegerter opening the door as Öncü capitalised and the pair swept through to second and third. The red flag brought out as lap two began with the stricken Yamaha still languishing on track after catching fire.

A quick restart saw the positions neutralised as the original grid reformed for a 12-lap sprint. Caricasulo once again grabbing the holeshot from once and Bulega as Baldassarri remained in fourth. Aegerter dropped down to sixth behind Adrian Huertas before the Ten Kate rider hit back as the opening lap unfolded.

Caricasulo was repeatedly under pressure as Öncü made moves for the lead, Baldassarri utilising the slipstream to slingshot the pair with the two Italians continuing to swap positions as the opening sector played out.

Baldassarri held the lead halfway round lap two as Aegerter sat on the wheels of Caricasulo. The Althea rider back out front as the lap concluded, the two championship challengers almost coming to blows down the home straight with Öncü and Bulega completing the top five.

Aegerter was through to the runner-up position as lap three began, the duo continuing to squabble on track with Öncü eager to capitalise on the ensuing battle. The top five covered by a mere three tenths down the straight next time around as Aegerter took charge from Öncü and Caricasulo with Bulega crashing out from the fight.

Aegerter pulled a half second advantage with seven to go, as he set the fastest lap of the race. Öncü the same distance agin from Caricasulo in third with Baldassarri and MV Agusta’s Bahattin Sofuoglu and Niki Tuuli in the top six.

Baldassarri was up to third next time around as Sofuoglu began to sniff out an opportunity. Raffaele de Rosa and GMT94 Yamaha’s Jules Cluzel dispatching Simon Jespersen on the edge of the top ten before the pair switched places and the Frenchman rose eight places from his disappointing qualifying.

The Swiss rider’s dominance continued with a near three-second lead as the shortened race counted down. Baldassarri, Öncü and Caricasulo almost inseparable in the fight for second as the positions flickered with three to go.

The penultimate lap began with Caricasulo in second after a three-way fight once again. The pair behind switching positions in quick succession with the battle providing a breathing space for the leading Italian until the start-finish straight shuffled the standings yet again.

Aegerter sat four seconds clear as the final lap unfolded. Baldassarri heading Öncü and Caricasulo with the positions stable as they crossed the line. Sofuoglu and Tuuli completed the top six from Huertas, Cluzel, Glenn van Straalen and Jespersen with Lorenzo Taccini, de Rosa, Yari Montella, Andy Verdoia and Oli Bayliss collecting the final points on offer.

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