WorldSBK Phillip Island: Caricasulo clinches WorldSSP pole

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Althea Ducati’s Federico Caricasulo clinched the final WorldSSP pole position of 2022 after a late-session shootout at Phillip Island.

Friday hero Nicolo Bulega matched his fellow Ducati colleague with identical 1’37.161 pace in the dying seconds of Superpole to secure second, with Yari Montella completing an all-Italian front row, in third.

With the afternoon rain hitting the island earlier than expected, Supersport qualifying kicked off on a damp track. Riders tentatively headed out for their first experience of the conditions as the 20-minute session went green with GMT94 Yamaha’s Jules Cluzel preparing for the final Superpole of his decade-long career.

Dynavolt Triumph’s Hannes Soomer set the initial 1’47.819 pace with Tom Booth-Amos trailing in second on the Motozoo Kawasaki. Caricasulo advancing the target by two tenths of a second on his first flying lap before the Italian bettered by two full seconds next time around.

Cluzel was the next to challenge as the Frenchman circulated in second, Booth-Amos retaining his top three position, just under a second adrift until Montella displaced him on the Puccetti Kawasaki.

Double WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter was firmly in charge at the halfway stage as the Ten Kate Yamaha secured a 1’43.216 on the evolving track before blitzing the pace by over four seconds thanks to a 1’40.484 - the effort invalidating the majority of the pack’s best laps with just five riders inside the 105%. Stefano Manzi sat second on the second Street Triple RS but 4.5s off the outright target before Cluzel split the difference with a ’43.1. Aegerter once again moving the goalposts with a 1’38.995 to leave just him and Cluzel inside the qualifying margin until Lorenzo Baldassarri joined the fray on the Evan Bros. R6 in third.

The Swiss rider continued to advanced the pace with his seventh effort, a 1’38.253 now the time for provisional pole, with Cluzel and Marcel Schrotter in tow. Italian’s Caricasulo and Baldassarri bettering the duo for second and third as the pace ignited in the closing minutes with fellow countrymen Montella and de Rosa making it a quartet effort until Can Öncü and Schrotter arrived on the Puccetti and MV Agusta respectively.

Two to go and the standings shuffled in earnest. Aegerter retained control with a 1’37.381, Caricasulo a mere 0.072s behind on fresh slick tyres compared to the champion’s wet weather options with Schrotter challenging for third.

First De Rosa, then Caricasulo stole the pole position as the chequered flag flew - for his 11th success - Nicolo Bulega splitting the pair on the Aruba Ducati with an identical 1’37.161 time to his Panigale compatriot. Montella secured the final place on the front row in the dying seconds as teh Orelac Ducati ma’s time was deleted. Aegerter dropped to fourth with Baldassarri and Schrotter behind. Öncü, De Rosa and Kallio’s Simon Jespersen claimed row three for the afternoon race action while last week’s polesitter Niki Tuuli completed the top ten. Local rider Oli Bayliss completed the Superpole shootout in 14th on the Barni Ducati with Booth-Amos 19th.

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