The FIM Supersport World Championship race action kicked off on Saturday afternoon at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve with a long-awaited return to the top step for Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) over after the Frenchman claimed a hard-fought win in Race 1 for the Motul Portuguese Round, finishing less than half-a-second clear of his nearest rival.
The drama started from the beginning of the 17-lap race with Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) taking to the front of the field at the start of the race before he lost places in the closing stages of the opening lap, with Turkish star Can Öncü (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) briefly taking the lead of the race, before Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team) and Cluzel came through.
Aegerter found himself dropped down to fourth place but soon found his way back in the podium places as he passed Öncü for third place. On Lap 6, Öncü found himself bundled down the order into sixth place as Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) and Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Corse Clienti) came through, while Gonzalez lost the lead of the race and fell down to fifth behind De Rosa and Tuuli.
Aegerter made his move for the lead of the race in Cluzel into Turn 1 at the start of Lap 10 with the Swiss rider looking to add to his already-impressive win tally in his rookie campaign, but just a lap later Aegerter was down in fourth place after losing out to Cluzel, Gonzalez and De Rosa into Turn 1. On Lap 13, Tuuli made his move on Aegerter to demote the Championship leader into fifth, while out in front Gonzalez had re-taken the lead of the race at the expense of Cluzel.
At the start of Lap 14, Tuuli was up into the podium places after a move into Turn 1 as Cluzel made his move onto Gonzalez in the latter stages of Lap 14, with Gonzalez responding despite pressure from Tuuli into Turn 1 on Lap 15. Tuuli dropped back from the podium fight in the closing stages, as did De Rosa, with Cluzel making his move at the start of the final lap before holding in to claim his first victory since San Juan 2019, almost two years later. Such was Cluzel’s pace in the closing stages, the French rider was able to smash the lap record on the final lap of the 17-lap battle as he posted a 1’44.783s.
Gonzalez finished in second place ahead of Aegerter in third; the Swiss rider backing out of a move on Gonzalez in the closing stages of the race to extend his Championship lead over Steven Odendaal (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team). De Rosa claimed fourth place ahead of Tuuli in fifth, with Odendaal rounding out the top six after closing in on the lead group in the second half of the race.
P1 Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha)
“Long time! It’s so cool. I was missing this feeling when you pass the line and feel satisfied. It’s great. I think we deserved it because it was a difficult season, but I never gave up. It’s a shame for Magny-Cours because we were strong, then in Jerez it was difficult, but we came back here in good form. Pole position and 25 points… there’s still tomorrow but at least we did the job now.”
P2 Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha ParkinGo Team)
“Another podium! I’m really happy with second position because I knew I was really, really fast. When I was first, my rhythm was really fast. In the last lap, I knew Cluzel was really fast in the last sector, so I knew it was really difficult to win this race because in the last corner, he overtook me before the finish line. The bike was working really well. The problem from yesterday, we solved, so I’m really confident and I really like this track.”
P3 Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha)
“Today was quite a difficult race for me. The wind was quite strong, and the temperature was quite high so I couldn’t do the pace I had on Friday in practice. We had a big fight with a lot of riders and the straight is quite long, so everybody was passing me with the slipstream. Third place, for sure, is not so bad because we extended the Championship lead, but I expected a little bit more from today’s race. Happy to finish on the podium.”
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of Dorna WSBK Organization Srl