WorldSBK Portimao: Cluzel takes first Supersport win in two years

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Picture: GeeBee Images

GMT94 Yamaha’s Jules Cluzel has taken his first WorldSSP win for two years with victory at the Portimao WorldSBK round.

The Frenchman was involved in a five-bike scrap for the win and it took a new lap record on the last lap by Cluzel to secure the victory.

Drama started from the beginning of the 17-lap race with Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) taking to the front of the field at the start of the race before he lost places in the closing stages of the opening lap, with Turkish star Can Öncü (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) briefly taking the lead of the race, before Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) and Cluzel came through.

Aegerter found himself dropped down to fourth place but soon found his way back in the podium places as he passed Öncü for third place. On Lap 6, Öncü found himself bundled down the order into sixth place as Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Corse Clienti) came through, while Gonzalez lost the lead of the race and fell down to fifth behind De Rosa and Tuuli.

Aegerter made his move for the lead of the race in Cluzel into Turn 1 at the start of Lap 10 with the Swiss rider looking to add to his already-impressive win tally in his rookie campaign, but just a lap later Aegerter was down in fourth place after losing out to Cluzel, Gonzalez and De Rosa into Turn 1. On Lap 13, Tuuli made his move on Aegerter to demote the Championship leader into fifth, while out in front Gonzalez had re-taken the lead of the race at the expense of Cluzel.

At the start of Lap 14, Tuuli was up into the podium places after a move into Turn 1 as Cluzel made his move onto Gonzalez in the latter stages of Lap 14, with Gonzalez responding despite pressure from Tuuli into Turn 1 on Lap 15. Tuuli dropped back from the podium fight in the closing stages, as did De Rosa, with Cluzel making his move at the start of the final lap before holding in to claim his first victory since San Juan 2019, almost two years later. Such was Cluzel’s pace in the closing stages, the French rider was able to smash the lap record on the final lap of the 17-lap battle as he posted a 1’44.783s.

Gonzalez finished in second place ahead of Aegerter in third; the Swiss rider backing out of a move on Gonzalez in the closing stages of the race to extend his Championship lead over Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team). De Rosa claimed fourth place ahead of Tuuli in fifth, with Odendaal rounding out the top six after closing in on the lead group in the second half of the race.

Randy Krummenacher (CM Racing) had been plagued by technical issues all weekend but the race was a different story for the 2019 Champion as he secured seventh place, ahead of Öncü in eighth place. The Turkish rider was just two tenths clear of teammate Philipp Oettl in ninth place, with debutant Yari Montella (GMT94 Racing) claiming a top ten finish on debut; two tenths back from Oettl.

Montella had more than eight seconds to his advantage of Peter Sebestyen (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team). Sebestyen held off the challenge from Patrick Hobelsberger (Bonovo MGM Action) by just two tenths with the German finishing in 12th place. Estonia’s Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) was 13th, a further three tenths back from Sebestyen, with Federico Caricasulo (Biblion Iberica Yamaha Motoxracing) and Ondrej Vostatek (IXS-YART Yamaha) rounding out the points.

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