Stefano Manzi brought Nicolo Bulega’s title-winning streak of WorldSSP victories to an end with a hard-fought fourth podium-topping success of the season in Race 2 at Portimao.
The Italian dug deep in an entertaining final lap exchange with Bulega to repel the newly-crowned WorldSSP Champion, Manzi beating him in a sprint to the finish line by a mere +0.084secs.
The victory ends a run of five consecutive wins for Aruba Racing’s Bulega, though this will matter little to the Aruba Racing Ducati rider, who came into the Sunday’s encounter bearing the glow of a World Champion after his 14th victory of the season in the weekend’s first race proved enough to make his title win a formality.
Nevertheless, while the title trophy might be off the table, there was still plenty on the line in the weekend’s second encounter, with the pair grappling over the lead through the duration of the last lap.
For the most part it was Manzi that looked on course for a comfortable win, the Ten Kate Yamaha rider dismissing Bulega’s initially good getaway to instead pull away with Yari Montella in a dispute for the lead that would go deep into the final stages of the race.
However, just as Bulega began to make headway back into the lead fight, Montella’s error into Turn 3 with two laps to go spurred the Aruba Ducati rider on further as the battle for victory whittled down to a direct head-to-head.
Coming into the final lap, Bulega traded the first blow with a pass into Turn 1, only for Manzi to deliver an immediate retort that restored his advantage.
It was a trend the pair carried into most corners of the Portuguese circuit but when the pair were forced to sit up after getting too close for comfort into Turn 10, it was Manzi who’d emerge ahead. It would prove decisive too, Manzi carrying the lead through to the flag.
A fourth win to add to his successes in Misano and double win at Imola, the result also cements Manzi’s runners-up spot in the overall standings over Marcel Schroetter.
Having shown front-running pace in both races, Montella had to make do with third on the Barni Spark Ducati on this occasion, the Italian well clear of Schroetter and Federico Caricasulo in fourth and fifth respectively.
Glenn van Straalen put the disappointment of his Race 1 DNF behind him to finish his weekend with a sixth, ahead of Jorge Navarro - who struggled to recover from a poor start off the second row - in seventh, Raffaele de Rosa in eighth, Lorenzo Dalla Porta in ninth and Niki Tuuli in tenth.
Among the British contingent, Tom Booth-Amos was an early retirement with technical issues but he remains well on course to clinch the 2023 WorldSSP Challenge title. A subcategory for riders only competing in the European rounds, the points’ format reflects that of the main table (eighth in the overall classification means eight points for both the Overall and Challenge classification).
As such, with Tom Edwards 30 points behind Booth-Amos and a mathematical 50 available from the Jerez finale, there is still a chance for the Australian to take the title, though it remains unlikely.
Meanwhile, John McPhee picked up another couple of points for 14th on the D34G Ducati, with Tarran Mackenzie the best of the MIE Honda riders in 20th
|2023 Portimao WorldSSP | Portimao | Race 2 Results | Round 11 of 12|
|1||Stefano Manzi||🇮🇹||Ten Kate Racing||Yamaha R6||17 Laps|
|2||Nicolo Bulega||🇮🇹||Aruba Racing||Ducati Panigale V2||+0.084|
|3||Yari Montella||🇮🇹||Barni Spark Racing||Ducati Panigale V2||+3.278|
|4||Marcel Schroetter||🇩🇪||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||MV Agusta F3 800 RR||+6.300|
|5||Federico Caricasulo||🇮🇹||Althea Racing||Ducati Panigale V2||+7.905|
|6||Glenn van Straalen||🇳🇱||EAB Racing||Yamaha R6||+9.427|
|7||Jorge Navarro||🇪🇦||Ten Kate Racing||Yamaha R6||+13.325|
|8||Raffaele de Rosa||🇮🇹||Orelac Racing Verdnatura||Ducati Panigale V2||+13.361|
|9||Lorenzo Dalla Porta||🇮🇹||Evan Bros. Team||Yamaha R6||+16.393|
|10||Niki Tuuli||🇫🇮||PTR Racing||Triumph STR 765 RS||+17.832|
|11||Yeray Ruiz||🇪🇦||MDR Offtec||Yamaha R6||+18.475|
|12||Tom Edwards||🇦🇺||YART||Yamaha R6||+18.516|
|13||Ondrej Vostatek||🇵🇱||PTR Racing||Triumph STR 765 RS||+19.090|
|14||John McPhee||🇬🇧||D34G Racing||Ducati Panigale V2||+24.006|
|15||Can Oncu||🇹🇷||Puccetti Racing||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+34.248|
|16||Alvaro Diaz||🇪🇦||Arco YART||Yamaha R6||+34.768|
|17||Bahattin Sofuoglu||🇹🇷||MV Agusta Reparto Corse||MV Agusta F3 800 RR||+38.235|
|18||Anupab Sarmoon||🇹🇭||Yamaha Thailand Racing||Yamaha R6||+38.670|
|19||Luke Power||🇦🇺||Motozoo Racing||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+39.476|
|20||Tarran Mackenzie||🇬🇧||Petronas MIE Racing||Honda CBR600RR||+39.802|
|21||Ibrahim Norrodin||🇲🇾||Petronas MIE Racing||Honda CBR600RR||+42.559|
|22||Max Kofler||🇦🇹||D34G Racing||Ducati Panigale V2||+42.355|
|23||Andrea Migno||🇮🇹||Petronas MIE Racing||Honda CBR600RR||+58.355|
|24||Twan Smits||🇳🇱||Yamaha Thailand Racing||Yamaha R6||+1m >|
|26||Yuta Okaya||🇯🇵||ProDina Racing||Kawasaki ZX-6R||+1m >|
|DNF||Adrian Huertas||🇪🇦||MTM Racing||Kawasaki ZX-6R|
|DNF||Valentin Debise||🇨🇵||GMT94||Yamaha R6|
|DNF||Tom Booth-Amos||🇬🇧||Motozoo Racing||Kawasaki ZX-6R|
|W||Leonardo Taccini||🇮🇹||Vince64 by Puccetti||Kawasaki ZX-6R|
|W||Maiki Abe||🇯🇵||VFT Racing||Yamaha R6|
|W||Federico Fuligni||🇮🇹||Orelac Racing Verdnatura||Ducati Panigale V2|
|W||Nicholas Spinelli||🇮🇹||VFT Racing||Yamaha R6|