Honda World Superbike Team rider Nicky Hayden crossed the line in Sepang on Sunday to take his first ever win in World Superbike. The American, a rookie in the class, took off from the pack in a supreme display of speed and control in difficult conditions. Ducati’s Davide Giugliano came home second after a late charge, ahead of reigning Champion Jonathan Rea.
Sunday in Sepang saw sun replaced by rain as a downpour hit the circuit just before the WorldSSP Race was due to start. As the weather conditions worsened and the World Supersport Race was postponed until after WorldSBK, the riders had a long look at the sky in preparation for a Wet Race.
A cautious line up threaded through turns 1 and 2 for the first time as the front row of Sykes, Rea and Lowes was joined by Honda rider Nicky Hayden from the second row. Hayden, who is a veteran of the track but a WorldSBK rookie, then began to pull a gap on second placed Rea as riders behind battled for position.
With grip tricky to judge, only Kentucky Kid Hayden seemed confident in the initial laps, with Rea remaining behind in P2 as Lowes and Sykes struggled to find similar pace.
With the top three settled as Hayden, Rea and Davies, it was second Aruba.it Racing – Ducati rider Davide Giugliano who then began to set the fastest laps of the track and caught teammate and title contender Davies. After shadowing the Welshman, Giugliano then made his move and took the position, then heading off after Nicky Hayden in pursuit of a victory.
The Italian came home P2 after the late charge, as Rea passed Davies to lock out the podium in P3, ahead of his Welsh title rival who crossed the line in P4. Defending Champion Rea remains the only rider on the grid to have been on the rostrum in every race.
Honda’s Michael van der Mark moved up from his P10 grid position to end the race in P6 after a spectacular last corner against Alex De Angelis after a race of spectacular duels, with Aprilia rider De Angelis also making good progress from his starting position as he recovers from injury.
Tom Sykes, after starting from pole, suffered in the conditions in Race 2 in Malaysia and eventually crossed the line in P8.
Anthony West, riding as replacement for Sylvain Barrier at Pedercini, lived up to his reputation as a maestro of wet conditions as the Australian came home in the top 5, giving the team their best result of 2016 so far and proving second Kawasaki on Sunday.
Leon Camier, after another top ten result in Race 1, came home P9 in the wet on Sunday afternoon, with Markus Reiterberger completing the top ten for Althea BMW after a mechanical problem forced the German to retire in Race 1 on Saturday.
WorldSSP: Duel to the Finish for Badovini and Khairuddin
Local rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin kept raucous home fans on their feet at Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, as the WorldSSP rookie went from his P5 grid slot to both lead the race and challenge for the victory on the last lap. On the final corner, Fahmi just lost out to Ayrton Badovini, as the Italian managed to cut back on the inside to beat the Malaysian over the line by a whisker. GRT rider Gino Rea, after good pace all weekend, made good on his grid position after initially leading and completed the podium in P3.
In a Race postponed until after WorldSBK due to weather conditions at a rainy Sepang, it was British GRT rider Rea who got the best start, rocketing away into the lead in front of reigning Champion Kenan Sofuoglu. The Turk’s teammate Randy Krummenacher lost ground in the first lap to cross the line tenth after Lap 1, with local hero Zulfahmi Khairuddin making up places from P5 on the grid to duel with Sofuoglu and close down on then race leader Gino Rea.
The new asphalt at Sepang was drying out as home hero Khairuddin leapt through into the lead at the final corner on Lap 3 to head a WorldSSP race for the first time. The conditions mixed up the World Supersport grid for an exciting race of nervous apexes, with the home hero shining and Ayrton Badovini taking an incredible win to add to the host of different riders to have topped the tables in WorldSSP so far in 2016.
Honda’s PJ Jacobsen got another good haul of points in P4 as the American kept cool under pressure, and was the lead rider in the group of key Championship rivals. Reigning Champion and points leader Kenan Sofuoglu suffered more in the conditions than his pace in the dry had shown, crossing the line in P6 as wet weather specialist and Assen winner Kyle Smith took his CIA Landlord Insurance Honda into the top 5 and past the Turk in the closing stages.
MV Agusta Reparto Corse title hopeful Jules Cluzel took a good amount of points in P7, just ahead of WorldSSP rookie and Sofuoglu’s teammate Randy Krummenacher as the two men fight to catch the Turkish points leader in the title standings. Alex Baldolini had a solid ride for a top ten finish in P9, as fellow Italian Federico Caricasulo closed out the top tento gain another good result in his rookie year.
P1 – Ayrton Badovini – Gemar Balloons Team Lorini
“It’s an incredible day both for me and for my team,” said winner Badovini. “We didn’t expect this but when we started the race in the wet conditions the feeling was good on the bike and I was thinking ‘I think we can do well..’ I was waiting for something in the last corner and then looking for a solution. He passed me in the corner and I saw he was going a bit long so I tried to close and it was an incredible fight. He’s a nice rider and it was a good race.”
P2 – Zulfahmi Khairuddin – Orelac Racing VerdNatura
“At the beginning of the Race I had great confidence in the bike in the wet and I tried to pull away but it was not easy. By the end of the Race the right side of my tyre wasn’t great so I just pushed more on the left than on the right and with four laps to go we started to battle. I was quite sure I could pass him on the last lap on the last corner but when we arrived there I braked too much and lost the front a little bit, so I didn’t have enough drive out of the final corner. It was an exciting Race!”
WorldSSP will be back on track at Donington Park in two weeks time, for Round 7 of the 2016 Championship.
WorldSSP – Race
Ayrton Badovini Gemar Balloons – Team Lorini
Zulfahmi Khairuddin Orelac Racing VerdNatura +0.050
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