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WorldSBK Phillip Island: Manzi dashes to damp-to-dry WorldSSP pole

Stefano Manzi will start his first outing with the Ten Kate Racing Yamaha team from pole position after emerging on top of a fast developing qualifying session for the 2023 WorldSSP Championship opener at Phillip Island.

In a breathless session dictated by track conditions improving rapidly in the closing stages following rainy spells earlier on, several riders occupied the top spot in the final three minutes as lap times came down.

Come the flag though, it was Manzi who would shake out in front for his maiden pole position, the Italian - who succeeds double WorldSSP Champion Dominique Aegerter in the Dutch squad - stopping the clock with a 1’32.814 on his final lap.


That was enough to unseat Can Oncu, who looked on course for his first pole aboard the Puccetti Kawasaki before being denied by Manzi.

Barni’s Yari Montella completed the front row on the best of the Ducati Panigale V2 contingent, the Italian getting the better of practice pacesetter Nicolo Bulega, the Aruba rider having to settle for fourth instead.

One of the more surprising front runners after free practice, Nicholas Spinelli consolidated his strong start to the Australian curtain raiser to secure fifth on the grid aboard the VFT Yamaha, ahead of top MV Agusta representative, Marcel Schroetter.

After rain began falling more heavily minutes into the session, for a time it looked as though Glenn van Straalen - the quickest rider from the early laps - could stay on top should conditions not improve. However, when he was demoted with five minutes remaining, the ensuing flurry of activity would see the Dutchman pushed down the order before rebounding to seventh.

Adrian Huertas and Federico Caricasulo complete row three, with Raffaele de Rosa forced to settle for tenth having been fastest of all with two minutes remaining.

Elsewhere, it was a tough start to the day for the British trio, who will occupy three of the last four spots on the grid.

Quickest among them was Tarran Mackenzie, who despite struggling for straight line performance on the Petronas MIE MS Honda, managed to out-qualify John McPhee (Vince 64 Kawasaki) and Harry Truelove (Dynavolt Triumph) albeit in 19th, 20th and 22nd respectively.

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