Finally, Sunday is here which only means one thing – race day. First up was ‘supposed’ to be the World Supersport class and all was going well – the riders had prepared themselves physically and mentally, the bikes were ready and they all set off on the warm up lap!
Not even out of pit lane and the problems began for Italian Caricasulo who was due to start from 4th on the grid but suffered technical issues. The drama continued as the race start was delayed so that the track conditions could be checked and the mechanics came running out from the pits onto the grid.
The race eventually got underway with Mahias taking the hole shot as Jacobsen couldn’t keep up his pole position. Unfortunately for Sofuoglu – who started from the middle of the 2nd row – he didn’t get the best start, getting pushed around and falling back to 7th.
We almost got through the first lap but at the final chicane (T21-T22), Rolfo tried to go up the inside of another rider taking the line way too tight and ended up cutting the corner and crashing, with the other rider coming very close to getting tangled up in his bike. He was lucky to stay up right but then the first red flag came out as during the crash a lot of gravel had been dragged up onto the track. (Both riders were OK.).
The race distance had now been reduced down to 11 laps so tyres wouldn’t be a problem for anyone as it was a sprint to the line. Caricasulo and the team saw this as another chance so they got the bike ready for the re-start and he left pit lane. Most of the riders lined back up on the grid but sadly for Mulhauser he went into the pits instead of the grid with a technical issue and was forced to retire before it even began. Caricasulo was supposed to join the back of the grid, but he lined up into the 4th spot where he originally qualified.
Mahias again got a good start and the same for Sofuoglu, who had come up to 2nd with Jacobsen 3rd. As expected, Caricasulo was given a ride-through penalty but could never take it as again the red flag came out again after a crash involving Rolfo, Malone and Watanabe with all riders looking to be OK but very confused with a lot of arm waving.
It was then decided that the race would be moved to 14:20 (Local Time) so that the WorldSBK race would be on schedule.
The race began on time and all riders lined up on the grid with the ride through penalty for Caricasulo still standing but allowing him to start from 4th still. It was Mahias who got the hole shot, with Sofuoglu moving up 3 places into 2nd and Jacobsen following behind.
In the second group was Cluzel in 7th who had got a bad start and in the battle for 4th, it was strong between Gamarino and Smith which carried on throughout the race with the occasional mistake from Gamarino, running off track and moving from 4th to 6th. On the 5th lap, Caricasulo took his ride through and came out in 25th position completely out of the points.
It was still Sofuoglu in the lead with Mahias close behind trying to hold on to his championship lead. Sofuoglu kept putting in fastest laps of the race but couldn’t break away as Mahias was responding.
This is what the top 3 had to say:
Sofuoglu: “It was not easy, really not easy especially with the red flag. Finally for the race I have no new tyre left and it was a problem but I don’t give myself no excuse, no complaints just for win, and I will do everything very hard to push to stay in front and stay in good pace. I am very happy, very happy for the team. Very happy for Kawasaki, very good result.”
Mahias: “It was a very difficult race because I have a re-start and it is difficult for the tyres and for the clutch but I finished 2nd and for the championship it is very good. We didn’t win but we could fight for sure and now I ride with my head – I think of the championship. It was a very difficult weekend with problems with the starts but this team is very fantastic so thank you.”
Jacobsen: “The rear grip was not really a problem for me, we were struggling with the front a bit, I had a wobble when I was going in the corners every time with the front, so it brought me back less trust so it’s always good to bridge the gap. Hopefully we can continue this and just keep podium and keep collecting points and hopefully a win soon.”
The final results of the race were as follows:
1st was Sofuoglu taking his 40th win in the WorldSSP category, followed by Mahias in 2nd and Jacobsen in 3rd. It was then Morais, Smith, Cluzel, and an impressive ride from Gamarino saw him finish in 7th. 8th was Cresson, CIA rider Okubo in 9th and Zaccone in 10th.
West took 11th followed by Kennedy, Stapleford, Canducci, Rea, Soomer, Harthog and Mulhauser who joined after the race restart. In 19th it was Epis, Kunikawa, Calero, Cretaro, Sebestyén, Scarcella and finishing in 25th was London.