World Supersport: NRT scores double-points finish on debut
Indian-owned NRT team’s maiden campaign in World Supersport Championship got off to an auspicious start at Australia’s Phillip Island Circuit as both its riders finished inside the points.
During Saturday’s qualifying session, multiple race winner Jules Cluzel made it directly into Superpole 2 and qualified ninth, but was forced to start 12th due to a three-place grid drop.
Rising Austrian rider Thomas Grandinger qualified 13th on the grid astride NRT’s other Yamaha YZF R6, placing the Indian team on the fourth and fifth rows of the grid.
Sunday’s race was suspended after just four laps following a crash for Michael Canducci at turn 1, leading to a shortened nine-lap sprint for winning honours.
Cluzel made a rocketing getaway at the restart and immediately propelled himself to sixth position, only to drop back to 17th with an unforced error.
However, the French rider fought back over the remainder of the race, dispatching rival riders one by one to finish seventh at the flag. He was eventually promoted to sixth in the final classifications after a penalty for Raffaele de Rose.
“I was disappointed at having to restart as my feeling was better before the red flag,” he explained.
“Going into Turn 4 after the restart, I had a huge rear slide and ran off the track. I tried my hardest and the result that came from that was sixth.”
Much like Cluzel, Grandinger also had a topsy-turvy race. After dropping down to 19th and last on the first lap, the Austrian rider resurged to finish inside the top-10.
“I had a really crazy race! The first start was really good and I gained a few places into 11th,” Grandinger said.
“The second start was not as good and I tried to push in Honda corner but I hit another rider and this put me back to last position.
“I took a lap to regroup and then fought my way back to 10th position. I was thinking that with my pace I could finish around seventh or eighth, but I'm happy to come in 10th.”
The two riders collectively scored 15 points in the race, placing NRT fifth in the teams’ standings.
The Indian outfit, which is owned by racer Vafi Khan and based in Dubai, will next be seen in action in March at the Buriram International Circuit in Thailand.
Herrera switches to World Supersport 300 for 2018
Supersport legend Sofuoglu to retire after Imola