Bulega back on top after scorching Free Practice 2
With air temperatures of 32.8 degrees celsius, track temperatures were soaring at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit showcasing a true Australian Summer. World Supersport riders took to the track for their 45-minute Free Practice 2 session to see out Day 1 of the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round.
A clear championship fight is forming between Italian rivals Stefano Manzi [Ten Kate Racing Yamaha] and Nicolo Bulega [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati], and while Manzi was on top in Free Practice 1, it was Bulega who took the final honours in Free Practice 2 and the combined.
The session was disrupted quite early with Yellow Flags after an early fall from MIE rider Tarran Mackenzie on his out lap. Yari Montella [Barni Spark Racing Team] was also an early faller in the Free Practice 2 session, also crashing on his out lap.
Back in front, it was Manzi who once again took the early lead in the session. Manzi didn’t take long to drop his lap time from Free Practice 1 earlier this morning to a 1:33.389 set on lap 3.
For Bulega, it was a calm start, completing 16 laps in his first stint which comfortably placed him half a second off Manzi. Bulega put in his late charge and time attack in his second run of the session, firing a 1:32.852 on his first flying lap. Bulega was the first and only rider of the day to dip into the 1:32s time bracket.
Manzi found additional time from his early pace set on Lap 3, finding another two-tenths to cross the line with a 1:33.362.
A new face to the front of the field was Nicholas Spinelli [VFT Racing yamaha]. Spinelli found nearly half a second between the two Free Practice sessions, shooting his way to third in Free Practice 2 with a time of 1:33.876.
The fastest Kawasaki rider in the field today, Can Oncu [Kawasaki Puccetti Racing] was in fourth place, but has some time to find to be competitive with the leading Italian duo.
Glenn van Straalen put in a strong lap towawrds the later half of the session to finish in fifth, followed by Frederico Caricasulo [Althea Racing Team].
Turn 10 [MG] has been the place of many crashes throughout Friday’s Free Practice sessions, with Adrian Huertas [MTM Kawasaki] crashing out under breaks into MG for the second time today. Luckily, the rider was okay and able to walk away unscathed to still see out the day third in the overall times.
Things got a bit loose for Oli Bayliss [D34G Racing] coming out of Turn 12, getting his Panigale V2 sideways on the wrong side of the iconic white and blue ripple strip. Luckily, the Aussie was able to keep it on two wheels to bring the final session of the day home in P15, and tenth place in the combined standings.
Written by Tayla Relph. Images by Russell Colvin