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Spinelli Claims Stunning Maiden Podium in Dramatic WorldSSP Race 1

Spinelli Claims Stunning Maiden Podium in Dramatic WorldSSP Race 1

The weather wreaked havoc on the opening FIM Supersport World Championship race of the season, with a red flag and numerous attempted restarts at Phillip Island, before VFT Racing Yamaha’s Nicholas Spinelli took advantage of the changing conditions to secure his first podium.

Saturday at the Grand Bridge Brewery Australian Round got off to an auspicious start when the rain started to fall during Superpole. Undeterred by the damp track, Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Stefano Manzi followed up his second overall in Friday’s Free Practice by claiming his first-ever pole position in the class with a 1:32.814.

As they lined up on the grid for Race 1, the track was dry, but the rain returned as the lights went out, causing instant drama as riders felt their way around the 4.445km Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, searching for grip and swapping positions at every corner. At the end of Lap 4, just as the track was starting to dry once more, a crash brought out the red flag, but this was just the start of the mayhem.

After numerous attempts were made to restart, each time thwarted by a change in the track conditions, a 10-lap race was announced with grid spots based on the riders' position before the emergence of the red flag. Due to the mixed conditions, riders had to gamble on their tyres with a choice between a mix of dry, intermediate, and full wet options.


Showing wisdom beyond his experience, 21-year-old Spinelli went for a full wet setup and started to pick his way through the field from eighth on the grid. The Italian was up into third by the fourth lap, but with the track drying, he was starting to be reeled in by the riders behind as he struggled for grip. Fortunately, the return of the rain meant he began to close down the leaders once again. A daring move at Turn 2 on the final lap saw Spinelli secure second place, and he held on to the line to claim his, and the team's, first WorldSSP podium, just 0.942s away from the victory, in just his second race in the class.

Manzi opted for the intermediate tyres from fifth on the grid for the restart, which seemed an inspired choice as the track started to dry as the race went on. On Lap 5, the 23-year-old was the fastest rider on the track and hunting down the leaders from third. Unfortunately, the return of the rain saw his pace drop dramatically as he struggled for grip in the latter stages, and the Italian eventually finished in sixth place, 19.7s behind the winner.

Team Yamaha Thailand’s Anupab Sarmoon made an excellent impression on his debut in the class, as the Thai rider crossed the line in eighth to claim eight championship points. At the same time, Manzi’s rookie teammate was less than 0.5s further back as Jorge Navarro took advantage of the changeable conditions to charge from 20th on the grid at the restart to secure ninth.

GMT94 Yamaha’s Valentin Debise opted for slick tyres at the restart, but unfortunately, the Frenchman’s gamble did not pay off due to the return of the rain, and he finished the race a lap down on the leaders in 13th. Rookie Apiwath Wongthananon (Team Yamaha Thailand) also went for slicks but fought valiantly to bring his R6 home in 15th to secure his first championship point.

Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Andrea Mantovani had impressed in the original race and started the 10-lap sprint from fourth on the grid. After the restart, the Italian was battling in the top six before crashing out on Lap 7.

The FIM Supersport World Championship returns to action on Sunday with Race 2 at 2:30 pm local time (UTC+11) in Australia.

Full WorldSSP Race 1 results