Bulega takes back-to-back wins for Ducati in red-flagged Race 2
In what was a delightful change in weather conditions for our World Supersport riders, the sun was once again shining on the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit for the World Supersport Race 2 of the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. With track temperatures reaching 38 degrees when the lights went out, it was going to be a hard-charging 18-laps.
It was once again the Italian rider Stefano Manzi [Ten Kate Racing Yamaha] lined up on Pole Position, next to Race 1 winner Nicolo Bulega [Aruba Racing WorldSSP Team]; with Bulega taking the first race win for Ducati in World Supersport in 15 years.
The lights went out in the final race, and it was Bulega who got the upper hand into the run down to Turn 1 to take the lead for their final race in Australia.
Harry Truelove [Dynavolt Triumph] dry race hopes ended early, crashing on the opening lap at Turn 2. Luckily, Truelove was okay and able to walk away unhurt from his fast pace crash.
Back it the front, the top three Championship contenders of Bulega, Manzi and Can Oncu [Kawasaki Puccetti Racing] checked out from the rest of the field, pulling nearly a four-second gap to fourth place rider Frederico Caricasulo [Althea Racing Team] by Lap 6.
While it was Bulega who led the way, Manzi and Oncu weren’t letting the Ducati out of their sights, sitting back and playing what looked to be a game of follow the leader as they pinpoint their strengths for a late race attack.
Manzi made the first move on Bulega to take the race lead, but Bulega proved too strong to regain the lead once again while Can Oncu stayed put in third place.
Further back, Australian rider Oli Bayliss [D34G Racing] made a strong start to Race 2, moving himself up the timesheets in a hard fought battle for eighth place. Finding himself leading the charge for eighth place between Raffaele De Rosa [Orelac Racing Verdnatura], Niki Tuuli [Dynavolt Triumph], Valentin Debise [GMT94 Yamaha], and Frederico Caricasulo [Althea Racing Team], the Australian was making good progression as they hit the halfway point.
However, luck was once again not in Bayliss’ favour after Caricasulo’s Ducati Panigale V2 came across a mechanical failure out of Turn 2. With Caricasulo’s Ducati powering down, the closely following Bayliss had nowhere to go, with the Aussie having to take avoiding action and drift onto the grass. Bayliss luckily kept his Ducati on two-wheels and made his way back on the circuit, but was relegated down to 10th place and unfortunately lost the group.
As the World Supersport race just hit two-thirds race distance, with Bulega once again leading the way behind Manzi and Oncu; the Cape Barren Geese came out, crossing the circuit in one of the fastest sections of the circuit. This unfortunately meant the red flags had to come out, putting an early end to the final World Supersport race of the day.
As the race had hit two-thirds race distance with red flags coming out on Lap 14; it meant Race 2 was officially declared, with the race win being awarded to Nicolo Bulega who secured back-to-back race wins at the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Second place was awarded to Stefano Manzi, while Can Oncu rounded out the Race 2 WorldSSP podium.