Jules Cluzel (NRT) and Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) continued their sensational tussle as an intense rivalry is developing between the pair, putting on a strong show here in Brno. After a first promising tussle at Donington Park, the pair put an even more thrilling battle at the Automotodrom Brno to heat up the FIM Supersport World Championship even further, with the Frenchman managing to beat his championship rival this time around, and reducing the gap to the top of the championship to only two points.
Cluzel struck first at the lights, taking advantage of a slow start from Cortese to move into first by the first corner. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) also made his way into second, a position he would lose back to Cortese however by the end of lap one, with Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) also moving into third above the Swiss rider a few turns later. Meanwhile, Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) suffered his second retirement of the season, going down at Turn eight.
The two frontrunners had battled on the timesheets throughout the weekend, and that rivalry translated to the track, with a thrilling sequence at the tail end of lap four leaving an early highlight: Cortese cut ahead of Cluzel at Turn 11, but the Frenchman shot back two bends later, both riders nearly coming together in a flashback of Cortese’s winning move at Donington Park. In the midst of that action, the shadow of De Rosa’s MV Agusta crept up behind.
By lap 10, Cluzel was facing mind blowing pressure in the lead, with Cortese not even a tenth of a second behind. But two, three, four laps went by, and the championship leader, with better pace, couldn’t find his moment to attack – or chose not to. His moment came in the final lap: turn three saw the German move in front, but a wide line allowed Cluzel to push in around the outside of turn four. Again the pair clashed, with Cluzel managing to just squeeze out in front, and hold his lead until the checkered flag. A third win of the season for Cluzel, who emerges from the Czech round as the clear contender to Cortese’s championship lead.
With De Rosa drifting behind in the final laps, and managing his fourth consecutive podium, there was more action at the back. With Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) claiming fourth place over Krummenacher at the end, as well as the fastest lap of the race.
Thomas Gradinger (NRT) completed an excellent Sunday for the NRT team with his best result of the campaign in sixth. Another frantic battle in the middle of the pack between Anthony West (EAB antwest Racing) and Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda), with the veteran Australian edging ahead of the new CIA Landlord rider for seventh place. Behind, Eerneli Lahti (Sterkman Motorsport by HRP) took his first top-10 finish of the campaign in ninth, scoring vital points for the FIM Europe Supersport Cup.
Can the championship battle get any closer? There’s four weeks until the WorldSSP riders go back on track at Misano, and it’s set to be electrifying.
P1 – Jules Cluzel (NRT)
“It was really hot! I think everybody enjoyed, but me not so much because I expected him to make the pass. But I give everything until the last lap, it was a close fight and this time I was struggling with the rear grip, I am not sure if Cortese also was. I just tried to do my best on the last lap, and I tried to close the door. I have a big mark on my leathers from when we touched, but it was funny and I think everybody enjoyed it.”
#CzechWorldSBK WorldSSP at Autodromo Brno – Race
1. Jules Cluzel (NRT)
2. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) +0.148
3. Rafaelle de Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) +3.368
WorldSSP Championship Standings after Round 7
1. Sandro Cortese (GER) Yamaha (122 points)
2. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Yamaha (120 points)
3. Randy Krummencher (GER) Yamaha (105 points)
Credits : Photos and content courtesy of worldSBK.com