The 2014 World Supersport season opened in dramatic fashion after a red-flagged restart turned the 18-lap race into a five-lap sprint, with MV Agusta making a triumphant return to the top of the podium for the first time since 1976.
The Supersport event began with a hard-fought battle between three-time champion Kenan Sofuoglu, Kev Coghlan and Michael van der Mark. Sofuoglu and his Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R held a slim lead over Coghlan’s Yamaha R6 and van der Mark’s Honda CBR600RR when the race was halted after CIA Insurance Honda rider Jack Kennedy suffered an engine problem and leaked oil onto the track.
A lengthy clean-up effort and a short timeframe before the second World Superbike race resulted in the decision to restart the WSS race as a five-lap sprint. The three front-runners from the original start saw their nearly three-second lead over the rest of the field vanish in favor of a reformed starting grid.
Sofuoglu shot off the line on the restart, eager to establish an early lead in the shortened race. Sofuoglu was the fastest rider during practice and was looking to jump out in front of the competition. His aggression turned out to be his downfall however, as he crashed out while leading on the second lap. Van der Mark also crashed out on the same lap, taking out two of the leaders from the original race.
Their misfortune handed Florian Marino the lead, a lucky stroke considering the Kawasaki rider was nearly 3.5 seconds behind in sixth place in the first start. Marino was chased for three laps by MV Agusta’s Jules Cluzel, PTR Honda‘s Raffaele de Rosa and Coghlan.
The lead four riders remained in close formation until the final lap when Coghlan made his move to take the lead. The advantage was short-lived with Cluzel jumping ahead and sprinting to the finish for the win. De Rosa would follow them in third, pushing a disappointed Marino off the podium.
The win was the first victory in world championship racing for MV Agusta since the great Giacomo Agostini won the German Grand Prix at Nurburgring in 1976. The victory was especially unlikely considering the MV Agusta Yakhnich team’s struggles during testing and practice.
“We were terribly unlucky both during testing and at the start of the weekend. We rode far fewer laps than we should have. So, after that, going on to win was just a dream!” says Cluzel. “Before the start I told my mechanics I’d do my utmost: and that’s exactly what I did, without making a single mistake. It’s a deserved victory; we’ve still got a long way to go but we’re convinced that the bike and the Team have huge potential.”
|2014 WSS Phillip Island Top Five Results|
|1||Jules Cluzel||MV Agusta F3 675||–|
|2||Kev Coghlan||Yamaha YZF-R6||+0.224|
|3||Raffaele de Rosa||Honda CBR600RR||+0.317|
|4||Florian Marino||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R||+0.347|
|5||Roberto Tamburini||Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R||+0.822|
Sofuoglu was understandably angry with the results and the decision to reduce the race to five laps.
“You cannot come to Australia to race for five laps. I crashed because I wanted to get away from everybody in the restarted race because five laps is an exciting gift to everyone in the field,” says Sofuoglu, the 2007, 2010 and 2012 champion. “Anyway, I am so disappointed because I was the fastest in practice after all the good work we did. I could have won the first race but then they stopped it and called for a five lap race, so everybody went on full attack. Anyway, I crashed and it is very disappointing after doing so well in practice and qualifying. Now we go to Aragon for the second round.”
|2014 WSBK Top Five Standings after One Round|
|1||Jules Cluzel||MV Agusta Yakhnich||25|
|2||Kev Coghlan||DMC Panavto-Yamaha||20|
|3||Raffaele de Rosa||Core PTR Honda||16|
|4||Florian Marino||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres||13|
|5||Roberto Tamburini||San Carlo Puccetti||11|