A week after an exciting title-deciding Tour of Indonesia, the FIM Supersport World Championship heads to Phillip Island to celebrate Australia’s Grand Ridge Brewery Round for the first time since 2020 and cap off an exciting season at this iconic track . From Aragon, in April, to the other side of the world this November weekend, there will be 12 rounds of incredible fights and intense pulses. The challenging layout of the Antipodes promises more emotional moments and more spectacle as the drivers bid goodbye to the championship, the paddock and the season.
With bye: Riders prepare to say goodbye to WorldSSP
The Australian round would mark the last battle in the WorldSSP for many drivers including the top two in the championship. Dominik Egerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha), who won the title a week ago in Indonesia, and runner-up Lorenzo Baldassari (Ivan Brothers WorldSSP Yamaha Team), bid goodbye to the category to make their WorldSBK debut in 2023. Two men who have a tight fight for the crown will look to end the season in one final high-stakes duel, although for both this will be their first appearance at the WorldSSP on the circuit. Nevertheless, it’s a scenario they both know well from their Moto2 days: Egerter finished fourth in 2012 and Baldassari third in 2015.
For one of the riders on the grid, the event will be a farewell not only to the championship, but to the WorldSBK paddock as a whole. Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) prepares to compete in his final round at the WorldSSP after announcing his retirement at the end of the current season and will look to top it. Cluzel, whose WorldSSP record includes 63 podium finishes and 24 wins from 132 races, is the only driver on the entry list to win at Phillip Island in WorldSSP in 2014, when he was racing MV Agusta. Will he end his career on top of the podium one last time to remind us of his undoubted speed and talent?
Place: Bronze medal still pending…
Although the first two positions are given, there are many possibilities of variation in the following positions. Cain Onku (Kawasaki Pusetti Racing) is currently third overall and will be hoping to retain his first top three finish in the championship. The maximum the Turk can get back is fifth, which would be his best result in three seasons in the WorldSSP. Onkuo raced at Phillip Island in 2020, finishing ninth in his debut in the series. Nicolo Bulega (Aruba.it Racing WorldSSP Team) is 39 points behind Onku while his compatriot Stefano Manzi (Dynavolt Triumph) is 41 points behind Turk in the standings. Both will be competing on this track for the first time in the WorldSSP, but they know it well from their spells in Moto2 and Moto3. Bulega’s best result came in 2017 in the smallest class, 11th, while Manji had 9th in 2019, when he was in Moto2.
In the top 10: Everything at stake…
Federico Caricasulo (Althea Racing) has displayed good form in the final third of the championship, with four podium finishes in the last six races, and he could still break into the top 5 overall. The Italian is a two-time Australian podium finisher and has experience at Phillip Island in both the WorldSSP and WorldSBK. Carricasulo is 41 points clear of Indonesian Race 1 winner Niki Tuuli (MV Agusta Reperto Corse), who will be looking to add to his tally of championship wins and his first Australian podium finish.
However, the Finn has to be careful of the drivers following him. 25 points separate Tuuli, seventh, from Cluzel, who is tenth. Yari Montella (Kawasaki Pusetti Racing) is still searching for his first WorldSSP podium finish, and Phillip Island is a circuit he has yet to visit in the championship. He visited it in 2018, signing in 16th place when he was racing in Moto3. Rafael de Rosa (Orellec Racing Verdatura WorldSSP) was on the Australian podium in 2014, his first top 3 in the category. Can he repeat after eight years and move up in the championship standings? For Cluzel, the goal will be to reach the top, and if he does so, he will hope to advance into the top 10 of the championship.
New: A Debut for 2023
German Marcel Schröter will make his WorldSSP debut at the Australian round with the same team, after announcing a move to MV Agusta Repertoire for the 2023 season. Schröter raced this year in Moto2 at Phillip Island, signing off in 13th place, taking ninth as his best result at the track during his Moto2 career.
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