The FIM Supersport World Championship race at the Chang International Circuit was once again a thrilling 17-lap encounter. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) took a stunning win after leading the majority of the race, although having to battle hard with the rest of the front running protagonists too.
On lap 1, Jules Cluzel got a brilliant start from pole position but slotting in behind him at Turn 1 was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing), who got a rapid start from sixth position. Federico Caricasulo remained third after the start initially before Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) pushed his way through into the leading three.
Isaac Viñales lost his initial advantage down the straight and by the end of the opening lap, was fourth, behind Cluzel, Caricasulo and Japanese sensation, Okubo. 2nd place starter, Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) had a terrible start and was down in eighth.
In the early stages of the race, two seconds covered the leading eight riders. Austrian rider Thomas Gradinger was making good progress, lapping the fastest rider on track on lap two. However, just a few laps later, his Yamaha YZF R6 was forced to retire at Turn 3, after it began smoke began to emit from it.
Isaac Viñales was continuously impressing throughout the race, making a brilliant pass at Turn 4 ahead of Federico Caricasulo, before challenging Jules Cluzel at the final corner for the lead, before running wide and allowing Cluzel to take him back on the run down the front straight. Meanwhile, Randy Krummenacher began to recover from his bad start, fighting his way ahead of Hector Barbera (Team Toth by Willirace) and Raffaele de Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse).
As the race battle continued on, Turn 3 was a hub of overtaking activity, with little success making it a great spectacle, resulting in the eventual drag-race to Turn 4. With the leaders tripping themselves up, Hikari Okubo and Randy Krummenacher were able to close down the margin to the front. Krummenacher managed to get ahead of Okubo with five laps left.
Out front, hard moves were now being placed, with Jules Cluzel and Federico Caricasulo continuously swapping positions, resulting twice in Caricasulo being pushed wide at Turn 8 – both occasions seeing him lose more places. The top three battling was a fantastic spectacle, but Randy Krummenacher continued to close, in his quest to give Switzerland its first back-to-back WorldSSP wins.
On the penultimate lap, just 0.7s covered the leading four, with Hikari Okubo now being dropped in fifth. Caricasulo went for a move at Turn 3 for the lead, holding it until yet again being pushed wide at Turn 8. This allowed teammate Krummenacher to come through into second, with the battling behind Cluzel starting to pave the way for the Frenchman to have an easier final lap.
With the last lap, Caricasulo started to push in what was now just a battle for second place, taking his teammate at Turn 3, before Krummenacher took him back down the straight to Turn 4. Isaac Viñales wasn’t out of it yet either, as he tried at Turn 8, only with Caricasulo to fight back straight away at Turn 9.
Jules Cluzel took his 18th WorldSSP race win and Yamaha’s 80th in the class! Krummenacher fought back to finish second, with Caricasulo holding on for third. Viñales, De Rosa and Okubo were just behind, whilst completing the top ten was Hector Barbera, Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) who started from the back of the grid, Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) and Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) rounding out the top ten.
Completing the points were Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), Peter Sebestyen (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), Jaimie van Sikkelerus (MPM WILSport Racedays), Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) on his comeback from injury, and Maria Herrera (MS Racing).
P1 – Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
“I am so pleased about this victory. It was a perfect weekend! We were strong from the qualifying to the race. It was tough, the heat was incredible, and my rivals Caricasulo, Krummenacher and Viñales were there till the end. I was able to win this race because I had a consistent pace. I am really happy about this! Now we will take some rest and work to improve even more for the rest of the season, and continue to enjoy racing.”
#THAWorldSBK WorldSSP at Chang International Circuit – Race
1. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
2. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +0.939
3. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +1.496
WorldSSP Championship Standings after Round 2
1. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) Yamaha (45 points)
2. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) Yamaha (45 points)
3. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) Yamaha (32 points)
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