Cluzel Takes Hard Fought WorldSSP Win at Donington Park
GMT94 Yamaha Supported WorldSSP rider, Jules Cluzel, took his second win of the season in the WorldSSP race at Donington Park, after a race-long battle with former World Champion, Lucas Mahias, and Bardahl Evan Bros. Yamaha Supported rider, Federico Caricasulo. Randy Krummenacher retained his championship lead with fourth place, after a spirited ride from the fourth row of the grid.
It was pole sitter Caricasulo who made the early running but, just three laps into the race, it was Mahias who swept through into the lead. The Kawasaki rider quickly pulled out a half-second gap, which was closed equally quickly by Caricasulo and Cluzel. While the leading trio were battling for position, Krummenacher was busy fighting his way through the field, racking up fastest laps as he went.
Having sat behind Mahias to see where he was strongest, Cluzel finally made the race-winning move with six laps to go, outbraking his compatriot to take the lead and then trying to pull a gap on the battle for the remaining podium places, which had now been joined by a hard-charging Krummenacher.
Caricasulo made a last bid for victory by diving under Cluzel at the Melbourne Hairpin on the final lap, but better drive out of the penultimate turn saw the GMT94 Yamaha rider reclaim the lead in the run-up to Goddards, the final turn. Caricasulo had one more go at slipstreaming Cluzel to the line, but it was the Frenchman who held on for victory, his first since Thailand back in March. Caricasulo followed him over the line in second, with Mahias third and Krummenacher fourth.
While Krummenacher retains his lead in the championship standings on 173 points, it's getting closer at the top, with Caricasulo in second and Cluzel in third both closing the gap to the Swiss rider.
Thomas Gradinger was the sole points scorer for the Kallio Racing Yamaha Supported WorldSSP team in sixth place, as crashes saw Loris Cresson retire and Isaac Viñales drop down the field to finish in 22nd position.
GMT94 Yamaha's Corentin Perolari enjoyed a solid race to a top ten finish, with the Frenchman eventually crossing the line in eighth position.
Yamaha Supported WorldSBK - P1 - Championship Position 3rd 132 Points
"I am so happy because the team gave me a really good bike from the very first day. I was a bit disappointed yesterday because I felt like I could have taken pole position, but today was the most important day. It was not an easy race, because Lucas was pushing hard from the start and had a really good pace, but with six laps remaining, I just had to go. I made no mistakes in the last three laps, tried to maintain a fast pace, and that meant Federico had to push even harder to try and pass me in the penultimate turn. I knew I had some space, so I just went for it. I thought he'd try again in the final turn, but he didn't, and I held on for the win. I'm so happy; it's been a long time since Thailand and we struggled a little since coming back to Europe, but now we're back on the top step of the podium."
Bardahl Evan Bros. Yamaha Supported WorldSSP - P2 - Championship Position 2nd 158 Points
"The first half of the race was really hard, because I didn't have a good feeling with the front and that made it difficult to stay with the two riders at the front. It got easier from midrace onwards and I was able to pass Lucas for second place. On the final lap I tried to pass Jules at the hairpin, braking really hard into the turn, but I was maybe one metre long and he was able to cut back on the inside. I'm happy enough with second today, as it means I have taken back points on my teammate in the championship. Now we have to think about how we take back the rest of the points in the last four races."