WorldSSP gave French fans a reason to celebrate on Sunday at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, when local hero Jules Cluzel won the race after a dramatic race saw Kenan Sofuoglu crash out, keeping the Championship open for another round. Kallio Racing’s Niki Tuuli came home in second and Ayrton Badovini (GEMAR Balloons – Team Lorini) finished in third.
The sun was shining on Sunday morning when WorldSSP lined up on the grid. Sofuoglu shot to the front and led into the first corner while GRT Racing Team’s Gino Rea stormed past the pack of riders bunched into the first corner to take second position, while Kawasaki Puccetti Racing’s Randy Krummenacher struggled behind in eighth. Honda World Superbike Team’s PJ Jacobsen crashed out on the opening lap, before GRT Racing Team’s Michael Canducci caused carnage wiping out Alessandro Zaccone (San Carlo Team Italia) at the Adelaide Hairpin to hold up the riders behind.
Sofuoglu pushed ahead at the front trying to put space between him and his rivals but he couldn’t get away from MV Agusta Reparto Corse’s Jules Cluzel. The Frenchman overtook Rea in second and before long was hot on Sofuoglu’s tail, not letting him get away. It took Kallio Racing’s Niki Tuuli a few laps to get to grips with the track but once he did the young Finn took the challenge straight to the front putting pressure on both Cluzel and Sofuoglu, with the reigning World Champion desperately trying to hold them off. Not long after on lap 8, Gino Rea pushed too hard on the entry of Estoril Corner getting flicked off his MV Agusta, which ended his race early. The young Brit walked away disappointed with the result.
Then on lap 12 disaster struck as Kenan Sofuoglu who was in a position to win his fifth World Championship crashed out on turn 3, while his chance at sealing the title at the Fassi French Round slid away with him. Tuuli instantly took advantage of this to get in front of second placed Cluzel to lead.
Then a last lap duel saw Cluzel take fuel from his home fans to steal the lead and go on to win, causing the crowds to go wild. Axel Bassani (San Carlo Team Italia) came home in fourth, adding to his lead in the FIM Europe Supersport Cup, which will be decided in Jerez.
Randy Krummenacher fought hard to finally finish in fifth, keeping the WorldSSP Championship alive. Federico Caricasulo brought his Honda home in sixth for BARDAHL Evan Bros. Honda Racing, while Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) finished the race in seventh. ESS rider Illia Mikhalchyk (DS Junior Team) gave a solid performance to end the race with an eighth place in front of Lorenzo Zanetti (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) with Orelac Racing VerdNatura’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin in tenth.
Kyle Ryde (Schmidt Racing) finished the French Fassi Round in P11 ahead of Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing) in P12 with Ondrej Jezek (Team GOELEVEN) in P13. Xavier Pinsach (GEMAR Balloons –Team Lorini) and Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) rounded out the points in P14 and P15.
The 2016 FIM Supersport World Championship will now go down to the wire at the next round in Jerez where reigning World Champion Kenan Sofuoglu will have another shot at sealing the Title.
J.Cluzel (MV Agusta): “I’m so happy I’m nearly crying, because I gave it everything. It wasn’t easy for me because I was losing on the straight, but I was so strong on the brakes and in some fast turns. I was pushing really, really hard and I’m really happy. The season was difficult because of many technical reasons. In the end at Lausitzring the team made a step forward and we have kept improving in this race. I’m so happy, I was quick in the rain where the bike is not so nice to ride. I gave it everything and it’s incredible!”
N.Tuuli (Yamaha): “We have had two awesome weekends. This weekend it wasn’t so easy for me because the last time I came here was a year ago and with Superstock 600. The race pace was really good. At the start I struggled a little bit with the tyres, but by the middle of the race I was faster than the top guys so I just pushed and pushed. Jules was really good on the brakes. I just did my best but I couldn’t push and on the last lap he passed me. I’m really happy, thanks to my team and everybody who supports me.”
A. Badovini (Honda): “I’m really happy, the first five laps I was fast but I needed to wait some time. I wanted to push over the last eight laps. During the race on a pass, another rider pushed me outside and I had to recover the distance. It was very difficult because we had to push, push, push. The last two laps the front tyre was really finished. But I’m really happy, it was a good fight and it’s my first podium in the dry conditions in Supersport.”
Jules Cluzel MV Agusta Reparto Corse
Niki Tuuli Kallio Racing (+0.248)
Ayrton Badovini GEMAR Balloons- Team Lorini (+0.525)
Kenan Sofuoglu Kawasaki Puccetti Racing 171 points
Randy Krummenacher Kawasaki Puccetti Racing 129 points
Jules Cluzel MV Agusta Reparto Corse 116 points
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of Dorna WSBK