WorldSBK Portimao: Manzi triumphs in WorldSSP race one

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Dynavolt’s Stefano Manzi secured the maiden WorldSSP victory for both himself and the Triumph project at Portimao on Saturday.

An all-Italian podium saw Evan Bros. Yamaha’s Lorenzo Baldassarri and Althea Ducati’s Federico Caricasulo complete the celebrations with Ten Kate’s Dominique Aegerter missing from the rostrum for just the second time this season.

The Supersport class lined up for a 12-lap dash an hour later than planned on Saturday afternoon as championship leader Aegerter headed the 32-strong grid. Aruba Ducati’s Nicola Bulega starting from the back row after technical issues in Superpole.

Lights out and Caricasulo was in charge on the Panigale V2 with Jules Cluzel maintaining third on the GMT94 Yamaha. Wildcard Meikon Kawakami suffering an opening lap off at turn five.

EAB’s Glenn van Straalen was defending hard from Manzi as lap two fired up, the Italian through at turn four before immediately striking for third halfway round.

Manzi’s progression found the Dynavolt at the head of the action as lap three began, Caricasulo holding fast for second as Aegerter dropped to fourth. Niki Tuuli the next looking for a way through on the Ten Kate R6 as Raffaele de Rosa capitalised by claiming fifth.

Caricasulo was back in the lead on lap four, the top six covered by less than a second as the battles continued. Baldassarri ran seventh on the Evan Bros. Yamaha as he looked to join the fight with his two countrymen bickering for domination out front.

Baldassarri was quickly through on de Rosa and Tuuli as the action continued. Manzi briefly back in front overall before the number 64 bettered again with Aegerter regrouping to the final podium position.

Half race distance dispatched and Bulega was up to 20th as Manzi returned to the lead. Aegerter the next to depose the two Italians with Baldassarri into the mix in third as Caricasulo dropped out of podium contention. Can Öncü was advancing on the Puccetti Kawasaki as he found himself promoted to seventh despite an ongoing fight with Tuuli, the Finn taking the position back next time around.

Baldassarri was in charge with five to go, his title-rival just tenth behind with Manzi now in third. Cluzel battling his former teammate Caricasulo for best of the rest with the podium positions flickering between the trio ahead.

Aegerter took charge on lap nine with Baldassarri the next to drop off the podium. Cluzel now fifth with Caricasulo and Manzi ahead before the Frenchman advanced back to fourth. De Rosa completing the top six as the action intensified once again.

A trio of Italians locked out the top three with three to go as Manzi headed Caricasulo and Baldassarri. Aegerter left to defend, hard, from Cluzel before the GMT94 bettered his fellow Yamaha to return to fourth.

Manzi began the final lap with just two tenths of a second breathing space from his bickering countrymen. Baldassarri dispatching Caricasulo at turn one with Aegerter once again running fourth.

Manzi met the flag by a mere 0.011s to take the victory for Triumph with Caricasulo just a tenth adrift for third. Baldassarri setting a new lap record as he collected second with Aegerter, Tuuli and de Rosa demoting Cluzel to seventh in the final stages. Hannes Soomer crossed the line eighth from Öncü, Issac Vinales and Bahattin Sofuoglu with van Straalen, Yari Montella, Peter Sebestyen and Bulega completing the points positions.

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