The title was on the line ahead of the World Supersport race in San Juan, Argentina, making the duel one of the most important in 2019. In a thrilling race where plenty of mistakes and hard moves were seen, it was Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) who delivered the goods to take victory and keep his title hopes alive, whilst for a second round on the trot, there were no BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team Yamaha riders on the podium.
Down into the first turn for the first time of asking and it was pole-sitter Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) who had the advantage, whilst Team Pedercini Racing Kawasaki duo Kyle Smith and Ayrton Badovini collided, sending the Italian down to seventh. Jules Cluzel was up to second place whilst Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was in third. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) had got the better of his teammate Randy Krummenacher, with the two title contenders fifth and sixth respectively.
The opening laps were crucial for the leading group, with Jules Cluzel hitting the front ahead of teammate Perolari before drilling in three brand new lap records, pulling clear of his teammate. Further back, Caricasulo was making headway and got ahead of Kyle Smith, before pinching third place a lap later from Corentin Perolari – the Frenchman fading, having lost second position to Lucas Mahias.
Randy Krummenacher made his first move on Lap 6, capitalising on the slipstream down the back straight and pushing Kyle Smith wide at Turn 8. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) followed the Swiss rider through and took sixth. However, at the front, Cluzel was streaking clear and eight laps in, was nearly three seconds ahead of the big battle for second, which now had five riders closely matched. Caricasulo made his way into second place at Turn 10, pushing ahead of Lucas Mahias. From eighth to second, the Italian was flying.
Cluzel was still out front and lapping consistently, seeking to keep his championship hopes alive. However, having set the fastest lap, Lucas Mahias was not done for and attempted an ambitious pass at Turn 8 to get ahead of Caricasulo, only for Caricasulo to fight back. The two swapping paint brought Krummenacher into play.
Mistakes were soon occurring in the race, as Isaac Viñales almost wiped out Randy Krummenacher at Turn 1. Then, at Turn 10, Corentin Perolari got it all wrong and narrowly avoided taking down Caricasulo and Mahias. Half a lap later, Caricasulo himself got in a pickle at Turn 1, running wide and losing places to Mahias and teammate Krummenacher.
Krummenacher was now in third, whilst Perolari was fourth ahead of Caricasulo. The leading positions had swapped frantically, with Caricasulo now the rider who was needing to push hard. Amidst all the mistakes and changes, Raffaele De Rosa was up to seventh and the faster than those ahead of him.
Three laps remained and Corentin Perolari bundled down the inside of Randy Krummenacher at Turn 1 and took the pair wide, allowing Isaac Viñales to burst through and putting Krummenacher just one place ahead of his teammate and title rival. However, it would be fireworks a lap later at Turn 7, as Caricasulo clashed with Krummenacher and pushed his way through. De Rosa followed ahead and now, Krummenacher found himself back in seventh.
The final lap was now upon the field, with Cluzel and Mahias way out front and rooted to their positions. However, Caricasulo went ahead of Perolari for fourth, but ran wide, allowing the pole-sitter to come back ahead. Krummenacher was out of the fight and down in seventh, so Caricasulo knew he needed to take advantage.
Cluzel stormed to victory ahead of Mahias, whilst Isaac Viñales held on to third. In the battle for fourth, Perolari held off Caricasulo, whilst De Rosa and Krummenacher were in behind – Caricasulo making up two points in the Championship standings on his teammate. Thomas Gradinger (Kallio Racing) was up to eighth after a lonely race, whilst Kyle Smith and Ayrton Badovini completed the top ten.
The Championship race now goes to Qatar and the Losail International Circuit, with Krummenacher, Caricasulo and Cluzel ready to fight it out for the title. Who will come out on top in one of the most incredible seasons?
P1 – Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
1. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
2. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +2.406
3. Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) +3.473
1. Randy Krummenacher (SUI) Yamaha (202 points)
2. Federico Caricasulo (ITA) Yamaha (194 points)
3. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Yamaha (180 points)
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of WorldSBK.com