The Frenchman hasn’t given up on his hopes of a WorldSSP championship win just yet, taking a sensational win at Prosecco DOC UK Round.
It was yet another thrilling WorldSSP encounter, with Donington Park hosting more dramatic racing. It was fight that would come alive in the final quarter of the race, with the championship battle going down to the final lap. Despite the best efforts from Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team), it would be Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) who would take his second win of the season.
A blistering start for Caricasulo saw the Italian take the holeshot into Turn 1, ahead of Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA) and Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing). Mahias took second off Cluzel at Turn 4, whilst Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) was only tenth, following a poor Tissot Superpole. Right behind the leading trio was wildcard, Brad Jones (Appleyard Macadam Integro), who was fourth. One surprise was Isaac Viñales (Kallio Racing) who was up to fifth, with Japanese star Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in sixth, after a relatively quiet weekend up to this point.
On Lap 3, it was all change at the front as Lucas Mahias hit the front at McLean’s, whilst on entrance to the Foggy Esses, Jules Cluzel got ahead of Caricasulo too. Like it had been after the first session of the weekend on Friday, it was a French rider 1-2. At the start of Lap 5, Isaac Viñales crashed out of contention for the podium at Turn 1, whilst Randy Krummenacher was now making headway, into eighth position.
The front three were beginning to break away at the head of the field, whilst Brad Jones continued to ride strongly in fourth in front of a huge, supportive home crowd. Raffaele De Rosa (MV AGUSTA Reparto Corse) began closing him down however and on Lap 6, the Italian got ahead of the wildcard at the final corner. De Rosa had a poor opening lap to the race but was slowly making his way back through to the positions where he started from.
On the seventh lap, De Rosa had not broken clear of Jones but now right behind both of them was Randy Krummenacher. The Swiss rider dive-bombed Jones into the Melbourne Loop and was now up to fifth. Hannes Soomer (MPM WILSport Racedays) was on the back of the battle for fourth and was far-and-away the best Honda rider. Krummenacher took fourth at the Melbourne Loop on Lap 8, now with clear air to his teammate, with plenty of space to bridge in order to get on podium terms.
With seven laps to go, Cluzel hit the front and immediately began to put distance into Mahias. Caricasulo was now looking impatient, struggling to get into second ahead of the 2017 WorldSSP champion. Meanwhile, Randy Krummenacher set the fastest lap of the race and was digging deep to try and get on terms with his teammate and main championship rival.
With five laps left, Caricasulo finally got ahead of Mahias down into the Foggy Esses and instantly, broke clear of Mahias. Krummenacher had set the fastest lap of the race for a third consecutive lap, meaning that the WorldSSP championship fight was now absolutely on between the teammates. The gap between Cluzel at the front and Caricasulo in second was coming down too, with Caricasulo now with the fastest lap of the race.
The last lap beckoned, with Caricasulo closing down Cluzel. Mahias looked a safe third as Krummenacher began to fade. Caricasulo tried once at the Melbourne Loop but couldn’t make the move stick, leaving Cluzel room to cut back through and take the win. Caricasulo was second with Mahias on the podium again, whilst Randy Krummenacher took fourth.
Raffaele De Rosa took fifth, whilst Hannes Soomer crashed out of sixth. This promoted Thomas Gradinger into sixth, ahead of Jack Kennedy, Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA), Brad Jones and Ayrton Badovini (Team Pedercini Racing), who completed the top ten. Outside the top ten, Rob Hartog (Team Hartog – Against Cancer) was 12th for his best result of the season, whilst contrastingly, Hikari Okubo took his worst result of the year in 13th. Hannes Soomer remounted for 15th.
P1 – Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
“I am so happy because we had a lot of difficult races this year, but this round the team and Yamaha worked well to give me a perfect bike. I enjoyed this weekend, and it is also my first win at Donington Park after so many years that means that we have a strong bike and we can finish well the season. Congratulation to all the riders because the pace was so quick and I tried my best in the last few laps to avoid the overtake, but Caricasulo tried so hard in the penultimate turn, and I just went for it. It was a very fair race!”
#GBRWorldSBK WorldSSP at Donington Park – Race
1. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 YAMAHA)
2. Federico Caricasulo (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) +0.114
3. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) +0.436
WorldSSP Championship Standings after Round 8
1. Randy Krummenacher (SUI) Yamaha (173 points)
2. Federico Caricasulo (ITA) Yamaha (158 points)
3. Jules Cluzel (FRA) Yamaha (132 points)