World Supersport delights as the first Free Practice of 2023 gets underway
After a short 96 days, the MOTUM FIM World Superbike Championship has fired back up for the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. First to light up the season was World Supersport, who took to the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit at 10.30am (AEDST) for their 45-minute Free Practice 1 session.
After a strong hit out in the final pre-season test of the season early this week, it was clear their would be a heavy fight between World Supersport riders Nicolo Bulega [Aruba.it Racing – Ducati] and Stefano Manzi [Ten Kate Racing Yamaha].
A red flag was brought out less than 10 minutes into the first Free Practice session of the morning, with the #99 machine of Adrian Huertas [MTM Kawasaki] laying it down through MG, with his Kawasaki machine remaining on the track. Flag marshals were quick to bring out the red flag, which luckily resulted in all riders going through the final sector clearly and returning to pit lane.
After a brief stoppage, riders resumed on track a few minutes later once Huertas’ bike was cleared away.
Bulega fired in the first hot lap of the session, but it was Manzi who took the final honours in the first Free Practice session of the season for the 2023 FIM World Supersport championship.
Manzi put in the fastest lap of the session of a 1:33.514, with Bulega following just 0.079s behind with a 1:33.593.
After his Turn 10 crash in the opening minutes of the session, the MTM Rider of Adrian Huertas put in a stunning lap five minutes remaining, which saw him shoot to 3rd in the timings.
Proving to be a close field in World Supersport this year, just seven-tenths covered the Top 7 riders after Free Practice 1.
Frederico Caricasulo [Althea Racing Team] followed in fourth place with his fastest time of a 1:33.755, followed by Can Oncu [Kawasaki Puccetti Racing], Marcel Schroetter [MV Agusta Reparto Corse], Valentin Debise [GMT94 Yamaha], and Australia’s Oli Bayliss [D34G Racing].
Bayliss found himself high on the timesheets in the first half of the session, with his highest placing of third. Bayliss rounded out the session in eighth place with his fastest time of 1:34.236.
Written by Tayla Relph