After making a final corner pass for victory in the opening FIM Supersport World Championship race on Saturday, Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Steven Odendaal did exactly the same in the weekend’s second race to take a sensational second victory at MotorLand Aragón. Meanwhile, GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Jules Cluzel produced an incredible fightback from last on the grid – due to a tyre pressure infringement – to a podium finish in third.
Off the back of his maiden WorldSSP victory, Odendaal lined up third for the second race and immediately took the lead after an incident ahead. Over the opening few laps, the South African dropped to third, but started to reel the top two back in when Cluzel overtook him with six laps to go. The 28-year-old followed the French rider through on the front pair with four laps to go, before a titanic battle for victory ensued.
On the following lap, Odendaal made his move at the final corner to take the lead of the race, holding on until the last lap, as Raffaele De Rosa’s Kawasaki got by. However, heading into the last corner, the Evan Bros Yamaha rider fired back up the inside and held on until the line for victory.
Having started from last on the grid and off the back of a disappointing end to the opening race, GMT94 Yamaha’s Cluzel wasted no time in his charge to the front. The three-time winner in Aragón was into the top 10 by lap three, and continued to pick off the riders ahead. With barely two-thirds of the race completed, Cluzel had overtaken Odendaal for the podium places, and just two laps later he had hit the front.
It then turned into a four-way battle for the lead, with the 32-year-old dropping back to third in the final moments of the race. Cluzel held off a late challenge from Kallio Racing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Hannes Soomer to score a deserved podium finish in third.
Soomer, who had enjoyed a solid first race in which he finished seventh, had already shown his wet weather prowess after two podiums in the Magny-Cours round last year, and was once again right in the mix at Aragón. The Estonian initially dropped back from sixth on the grid, but as the race wore on, his pace continued to improve. Soomer found himself in the lead battle in the closing stages, but just missed out on his first WorldSSP podium of the season by 0.055 seconds, finishing fourth.
Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s rookie Dominique Aegerter enjoyed a strong first weekend to open his WorldSSP account. After finishing a sensational second in his maiden race, the Swiss rider put in another fine performance to take fifth, impressive considering he had never ridden the Yamaha R6 in these conditions.
Kallio Racing Yamaha’s debutant Vertti Takala was looking to make amends after falling in Saturday’s race, with the former Ice Road Racing rider using his experience of racing in slippery conditions to take a superb eighth from 18th on the grid.
After taking a point in the opening race, Ten Kate Yamaha’s Galang Hendra Pratama enjoyed a lightning getaway in the second race, finding himself in 12th by the end of the opening lap, having started down in 21st. The Indonesian youngster made up more places during the race and recorded his best-ever WorldSSP result in 10th.
ParkinGO Yamaha’s Manuel Gonzalez, who rode well to fifth on Saturday, was just behind in 11th, with the 18-year-old falling back after an initially strong start, while fellow Spanish rider Maria Herrera, who had finished 12th in Race 1 for the Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team, added more points to her tally for this weekend in 13th.
GMT94 Yamaha’s Federico Caricasulo was involved in a first lap incident, which saw him drop to the back of the field. The Italian made some progress, but was too far back to make an impact and crossed the line in 18th.
Steven Odendaal: P1 & P1
Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team
“It was the best way we could’ve started the season, with a double win. The conditions today were really difficult. Finally we won the race, it was a nice battle and I took a lot of risks, but in the end I can’t afford to play it safe if I want to win. It was tricky, I’ve never raced the intermediate tyres and I hadn’t even tried them on the warm-up lap, so it took some time to get into the race. Next we go to Estoril, I had a good race there last year so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Jules Cluzel: DNF & P3
GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team
“It was a stressful second race, I needed to take many risks but it’s a challenge that will make me better. I nearly got the win, it was just a few metres in front, but I can proud of this after what happened in Race 1. I can’t wait to demonstrate what we can do in Estoril, I think we’ve improved a lot and I’m ready to fight this year. I wanted the victory, we didn’t expect these conditions but we made a good choice with the tyres. I also wanted to make sure I showed good speed and finished the race, which I did, so overall I’m happy.”