World Supersport 2018 – Round One
Australian Anthony West was given a major shot in the arm ahead of today’s opening round of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship at Phillip Island.
The former Moto2 race winner qualified in fifth position – a row two start – yesterday, but he has since been bumped up to a front row start after German Sandro Cortese (Yamaha) and Italian Federico Caricasulo (Yamaha) were both demoted three grid positions for riding too slow on track during the Superpole 2 qualifying session – deemed to be “irresponsible riding” in the FIM rule book.
The sanctions bumped up West to the front row alongside world champion Lucas Mahias (Yamaha) and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki), while Caricasulo was on row two between Like Stapleford (Triumph) and Randy Krummenacher (Yamaha).
West has finished third in the last two WorldSSP races at Phillip Island, and was chasing his first win in the category since way back in 2007.
Westy got a great run off the line but then seemed to encounter problems at Southern Loop, the Queenslander limping around the circuit before pushing his bike back to the pits, a forlorn sight for Aussie fans.
Countryman Tom Toparis though got a flyer from the rear of the grid and was running as high as tenth on the opening lap before getting overhauled by a few of the World Supersport regulars on lap two.
Up front it was Lucas Mahias leading Kenan Sofuoglu and Caricasulo in third place. By lap three Mahias had built a full-second buffer as Caricasulo and Sofuoglu tussled over second place. Sofuoglu struggling with injuries sustained earlier in the weekend and looking a little tight on the bike.
Then the red flag came out
A massive fall at turn 11 saw Canducci go down and in need of medical assistance amongst pieces of ZX-6R strewn all over the place. He had gone down well into the turn after building up a head of steam, so it was a pretty fast tumble into the kitty litter. Last we heard Canducci was conscious and stable.
Officials then decided it would be a full re-start for nine laps, which meant that if the problems plaguing Westy’s ZX-6R can be traced by his team he would be able to start again, and would get to start from the front row as per the first attempt. Unfortunately the problems looked terminal, after running perfect all weekend it looked to perhaps have dropped a valve just as the race started. Westy was struggling to hold in his emotions at his misfortune, this race was going to be an opportunity for him to strut his stuff and hopefully leverage enough support to compete the whole season in World Supersport.
And we are away again
Mahias again the early race leader from Sofuoglu, the Kawasaki man tussling with Caricasulo before the Turk made a mistake and ran very wide at turn four and lost a couple of positions as a result.
Up front it was all Mahias and on his first flying lap the Yamaha man setting a new race lap record of 1m33.252 for the World Supersport class.
Local youngster Tom Toparis was in a hectic tussle over 12th place with Cluzel and Okubo. A brilliant performance from the Goulburn teenager.
Sandro Cortese was battling with Luke Stapleford over fourth position and got the upper hand over the Triumph man by lowering the lap record again, 1m33.072 the new benchmark.
Lucas Mahias was still completely unchallenged up front, with a couple of laps to run the #144 Yamaha had a two-second buffer over the Krummenacher versus Caricasulo battle.
Mahias backed it off a little on the final lap to take victory by 1.27-seconds over Krummenacher while a hectic battle on the final lap over the final step on the rostrum between Cortese and Caricasulo saw Cortese get the nod after coming from behind through turns 11 and 12 to pip Caricasulo on the line.
Kenan Sofuoglu had drifted back through the field with his problems plaguing him throughout and was pushed wide by another rider on the last lap which cost him a number of positions.
Tom Toparis scored himself a couple of points with a 15th place finish, but the young wildcard entrant was a tenth-of-a-second off 13th but was out-powered to the line by Sofuoglu and Okubo.
Lachlan Epis unfortunately retired with some problems a lap before the chequered flag.