The FIM Supersport World Championship never fails and Portimao was no exception in a thrilling 18-lap battle. Before the race had started, there was already drama as ESS champion-elect Kyle Smith (Team Pedercini Racing) started from the back of the grid for going over his engine allocation. Back at the front however, it was yet another championship battle to remember. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) made more ground up on his teammate Randy Krummenacher, taking the win and edging closer to the championship lead.
It was a bright start to the race for all of the main riders, with Federico Caricasulo able to hold off a fast-starting Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Both GMT94 YAMAHA riders Jules Cluzel and Corentin Perolari were the biggest improvers, with Cluzel fourth from eighth and Perolari sixth from 13th. The only rider splitting them was an injured Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), who dropped to fifth. At the end of Lap 1, the leading group consisted of seven riders and they were split by just a second.
It was a disaster for Kyle Smith and Christian Stange (GEMAR Ciociaria Corse WorldSSP Team), as the two crashed at Turn 1, ending Smith’s chances of becoming ESS champion. Back at the front and Caricasulo started to try and break away, with the fastest lap of the race. However, Lucas Mahias and Randy Krummenacher soon caught him back up, with the Swiss rider dispatching of Jules Cluzel and Isaac Viñales, who was suffering from a technical problem. It would prove to be terminal, and Viñales was out a lap later. Cluzel was still in the fight in fourth.
With 12 laps left to run, Krummenacher made his move and took second from Mahias at Turn 1. The Swiss rider was now all over the rear end of his teammate, whilst Mahias and Cluzel watched on to try and pick up the pieces. Setting faster lap times in fifth place was Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse), whilst Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing) was continuing to have a strong weekend and fought his way into sixth. Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was seventh, ahead of Perolari, wildcard Miquel Pons (H43 Team NOBBY TALASUR-BLUMAQ) and Frenchman Jules Danilo (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda).
The dynamic at the front was developing and Krummenacher’s strong part of the circuit was the final corner and his pace down the front straight, whilst Caricasulo was strong in the braking areas. However, at Turn 1 with 9 laps left to go, Krummenacher took the lead from his teammate and immediately upped the pace. This fragmented the group and it was a BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team duel at the front once again. Behind the duo, De Rosa was now fourth ahead of Cluzel, passing the Frenchman at Turn 1 the following lap.
The race settled down and Caricasulo had his opportunity to study his teammate, with the Italian strong on entry to corners and Krummenacher strong on the exit. Cluzel had been dropped in the battle for the podium, meaning it was between Mahias and De Rosa. However, with six to go, Mahias moved closer to the leading duo whilst De Rosa had a massive moment on the exit of Turn 1, somehow saving an almost certain crash. The Italian retired a lap later.
Meanwhile at the front, Caricasulo had retaken the race lead and got back ahead of Randy Krummenacher. This would prove to be a race-winning move as a red flag was soon shown for De Rosa’s technical issue. With the race more than two-thirds complete and Caricasulo leading at the last timing point, the race win went to the Italian, ahead of Krummenacher and Mahias – the top three as they started on the grid. Jules Cluzel was fourth and completing the top five, Ayrton Badovini.
Behind that, it was Corentin Perolari ahead of Hikari Okubo, whilst in eighth, it was a best result of his WorldSSP career for Jules Danilo. Completing the top ten, Belgian rider Loris Cresson (Kallio Racing) got the better of Miquel Pons.
The gap in the championship comes down once again to just ten points, entering the final three rounds of the season. Jules Cluzel is 48 points behind, still in with a mathematical chance of his first WorldSSP championship. Meanwhile, the teams’ championship went to the BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team, with their fourth one-two finish of the season.
P1 – Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros, WorldSSP Team)
1. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team)
2. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +0.333
3. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.312.
1. Randy Krummenacher (SUI) Yamaha (193 points)
2. Federico Caricasulo (ITA) Yamaha (183 points)
3. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Yamaha (145 points).
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of WorldSBK.com