In the pouring rain, the first World SuperSport 600 race took place on the Magny-Cours track. After mathematically conquering the Riders’ title two weeks ago at Barcelona, Andrea Locatelli refused to settle for second best in France. The Bardahl Evan Bros man took home win number eleven of his formidable season, which came at the end of a terrific scrap with Frenchman Lucas Mahias, thus proving himself to be an increasingly complete rider, fast both in the dry and in the wet.
With Race 1 ending prematurely due to a crash by Glenn Van Straalen, the 23-year-old from Alzano Lombardo once again showed why he became world champion this year. Starting perfectly from the fourth grid place, Andrea Locatelli immediately slotted in behind local hero Lucas Mahias, overtaking him at the entrance of the Imola curve.
The Puccetti Racing man, who is on the point of moving up to Superbike, could not help but tag along behind. Both proved to be by far the fastest men on the track, breaking away from the chasing group by over fifteen seconds.
The two started a heated battle for the first position, with Mahias chasing and Locatelli defending the leadership. Despite the Frenchman's greater experience on the ups and downs of Magny-Cours, the new World SS600 champion was absolutely not intimidated by his opponent's attacks, managing the situation perfectly.
For Andrea Locatelli, it was a victory as much-desired as well-deserved, confirming the current extraordinary form of rider, bike and team. A bitter second position for Mahias in his home grand prix, but one that allowed him to (almost) put second position in the championship in the bag with Sunday's race still to come.
A fantastic third position for Hannes Soomer (Kallio Racing), scoring his first career podium in the SS600 category. The Estonian had been on good form right from the first free practice session, when he set the fastest time, and today he confirmed it by setting an excellent pace.
In a race devastated by crashes, the other members of the Italian brigade impressed: fourth position for Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse), but far away from third place, ahead of Kevin Manfredi (Altogoo Racing Team), with eighth for Federico Fuligni (MV Agusta Reparto Corse).
Excellent performance also for rookies Can Oncu (Turkish Racing Team) and Manuel Gonzalez (ParkinGO Kawasaki), respectively in sixth and seventh position. It was a race to forget, on the other hand, for poleman Kyle Smith (GMT94 Yamaha). The Englishman got off to a bad start, crashing in the middle of the race while he was in third position. As if that weren't enough, Smith found himself on the ground a second time in a vain attempt at a comeback.
The World SuperSport 600 protagonists will be back in action tomorrow, at 12:30, for the start of Race 2.
RESULTS RACE 1