WorldSBK Most: Baldassarri dominates dramatic WorldSSP race one

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Evan Bros. Yamaha’s Lorenzo Baldassarri claimed his second WorldSSP victory from pole position at Most on Saturday after opening drama.

The Italian met the flag over six seconds ahead of his closest rivals with a debut podium for Dynavolt Triumph’s Stefano Manzi and an impressive return to the class from Kallio’s Steven Odendaal completing the celebrations.

Saturday’s final race action saw the WorldSSP class presented with a dry but rain-threatened track as Baldassarri lined the Evan Bros. R6 up on pole for the first time since the season opener. Defending champion Dominique Aegerter starting fourth on the Ten Kate.

Lights out saw a dramatic first corner collision as five riders were skittled out of the action by an over eager move from the Puccetti Kawasaki pair of Can Öncü and Yari Montella. Front row starter Federico Caricasulo and Aegerter amongst the stricken fallers with the Swiss rider needing assistance. Raffaele de Rosa, Montella and Andy Verdoia also out of the action before it had really begun.

Back in the action Baldassarri held a dominant lead after his closest rivals were taken out. Two seconds the advantage from MTM Kawasaki’s Adrian Huertas and Öncü with Glenn van Straalen heading an all-Yamaha trio of Valentin Debise and Odendaal.

Nicolo Bulega set the fastest lap of the race on lap four as the Ducati rider circulated in seventh. Manzi holding eighth on the Triumph as Öncü dropped down the standings due to a ride-through penalty.

Odendaal was up to fifth as he continued to battle with Bulega, Manzi punishing his countryman as he capitalised on the duel to take sixth with Debise rising to fourth and two-tenths shy of the podium fight.

Van Straalen was on the hunt for second as he began to challenge Huertas, the EAB rider through with 11 laps to go and a train of six riders hotly on his wheels. MV Agusta’s Niki Tuuli navigating his return from eighth ahead of teammate Bahattin Sofuoglu and Ondrej Vostatek.

A very determined Manzi was up to second on the Dynavolt with nine to go having started 21st on the grid. Debise following the Triumph through for the final podium position as van Straalen dropped to fourth. The Frenchman taking his own turn in the runner up spot next time around as the intensely-matched second to seventh group were covered by just a second.

Six to go and Baldassarri’s lead sat at six seconds from the now nine-rider battle. Manzi and Debise switching places once again as Bulega set his sights on the EAB of van Straalen while Odendaal did likewise on the Panigale V2, this time with success.

The Evan Bros Yamaha cemented his dominance with a new race lap record with just three to go. The fight for fourth continuing to rage as Odendaal dispatched van Straalen with Bulega narrowly behind while the podium sitters looked comfortable out front.

The South African’s charge continued in the closing stages as he dispatched Debise after a tangle with Manzi for second. Bulega wide and through the gravel from fifth as he dropped to ninth as the chequered flag prepared. Baldassarri securing the victory by 6.2 seconds from a near three-way-tie behind. Manzi and Odendaal claiming the podium celebrations with Debise denied by a mere 0.019s.

Van Straalen headed Tuuli, Sofuoglu, Huertas, Bulega and Issac Viñales in the top ten with Vostatek, Patrick Hobelsberger, Oli Bayliss, Peter Sebestyen and Tom Booth-Amos completing the points finishers.

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