Yari Montella takes his maiden World Supersport Victory in Race 1
It was a total celebration for one rider and an utter disaster for another in the penultimate World Supersport race at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
For Yari Montella (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), it was celebrations all around as the Kawasaki rider secured his maiden race win, and maiden podium finish in the opening race of the Grand Ridge Brewery Australian Round. For Frederico Caricasulo (Althea Racing), it was a hard-charging 18 laps that ended in disaster, crashing on the last lap at Miller Corner, luckily able to rejoin the race to finish in seventh.
In what has been his debut weekend at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, the iconic fast-flowing nature of the track looks to suit his riding style as the Kawasaki rider also took his best Tissot Superpole result Saturday morning. Starting Race 1 from third on the grid, it was a head-to-head battle between him and Caricasulo.
Switching positions at every turn, the duo made it clear to one another that this would be a fight to the end. On Lap 18, the final lap, Caricasulo was at his limit when he crashed at Turn 4, luckily being able to rejoin the race to finish in seventh.
Yari Montella: “It’s a first win and also the first podium for me. I’m really happy for this. Really happy for the team also because I think the last win of the team was in 2020. I enjoyed the race a lot, it was a great battle with Caricasulo. I enjoyed it because I think we were fast. At the start of the race, I pushed to the limit. I saw what Caricasulo was doing and I followed him. After two of three laps, I was feeling good so I thought ‘maybe I can try to push more’. I’m happy, we made some great overtakes and we enjoyed it. I’m disappointed for him but this is racing. We are now focused for tomorrow’s race. I think we’ll be fast on dry or wet conditions.”
Montella’s teammate Can Oncu finished out this history-making podium to finish in third, making it a Kawasaki Puccetti Team 1-3.
Can Oncu: “I finish third. I’m very happy. I’ve been lucky. Wet conditions are tricky. You can easily make mistakes. I thought that something would happen at the front because Caricasulo and Montella were really aggressive at the front. When I saw the crash, I thought ‘ok, third position is for me’. I wasn’t fast enough to be at the front. I wasn’t too comfortable, and I just wanted to finish the race to secure third place in the Championship standings. We were close with Bulega, so I just tried to take points. Then I was thinking one podium with third, so I was happy. Now we are third in the Championship. I’m incredibly happy for my team. I think today we did a not so bad job because my feeling was not so good, and we got a podium. If we improve the bike and my riding style a bit more for tomorrow, then we can fight if it’s raining and we are already ready for dry conditions.”
Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) did all he could to match the pace of the duo battle happening ahead, and regardless of it being a lonely ride for the Italian for most of the 18-lap race, Buelga was able to capitalise on Caricasulo’s crash moving him up to second.
“Difficult race because it was wet, and I never tried the Pirelli tyre in wet conditions. But I was fast. Good podium. Thanks to my team because they worked really well during the weekend. I was also fast in dry conditions so thanks to them. I was catching the front guys but then I started to struggle with the rear and to lose some grip. I preferred to secure the podium. We brought home this podium and I’m happy. I’ll try to be fast also tomorrow.”
Championship runner-up Lorenzo Baldassarri finished just outside the podium, 7.223s behind Oncu. While the 2022 WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) was sixth, finishing 12.212 seconds behind race winner Montella.
World Supersport Race 1 Results
1. Yari Montella (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing)
2. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) +2.706s
3. Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +5.889s
4. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha Team) +7.223s
5. Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) +12.212s
6. Raffaele De Rosa (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) +15.183s