TWO NEW 2024 WINNERS: Huertas, Manzi share the spoils in Barcelona after WorldSSP thrillers

The 2024 FIM Supersport World Championship had more twists and turns at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya as two riders claimed their first victory of the season in style. In Race 1, the glory belonged to Adrian Huertas ( Racing WorldSSP Team) after he went from pole to victory, while Stefano Manzi (Pata Yamaha Ten Kate Racing) made it three winners from four races this season to really kickstart his title challenge.

After taking pole in Australia, Huertas did so again on home soil as he posted a 1’44.197s and he was able to convert this into Race 1 victory on Saturday. He finished 1.2 seconds clear of Manzi in second after leading all 18 laps across the line, although he did face stiff competition from Can Oncu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in the first few laps. He was unable to repeat it in Sunday’s Race 2 though, a crash at Turn 1 in the closing stages dropping him down to last and leaving the #99 unable to score points.

Discussing his first win on Saturday, Huertas said: “I’m really happy about this victory because Australia was quite difficult, and we saw in Barcelona that we’re one of the strongest and that we can fight for the Championship. I think we managed everything really well all race and it paid off. Now I know I can lead a race; this is useful for me because I hadn’t led a WorldSSP race. Now, I know what the feeling is. It’s important not just for this victory but the whole season.”

For Manzi, Barcelona was redemption after a difficult weekend in Australia where he crashed twice in Race 2 – at Turn 4 and then Turn 10. Second in Race 1 in Spain was followed by a hard-fought victory in a shortened Race 2. A six-lap dash to victory featured an incredible fight with four riders going for the win, until Huertas dropped out of contention. Manzi was able to overcome Marcel Schroetter (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) by just 0.086s to claim his first win of 2024.

On returning to the top step, Manzi said: “I feel super, finally! After we worked all winter to go as fast as possible on track and then you come to a weekend like this and be on the podium in both races, the feeling is super. It was a strange Sunday because we didn’t do the Warm Up. We were waiting because I woke up at 6:30am and we raced at 3pm; it was a long wait! The race was super. In the first part, I was managing a bit because we saw a big drop in Race 1. When I saw the red flag, I thought we’d have a very short race and it’ll be a hard fight. Luckily, I had a new tyre for the second part, and we were able to win the race.”

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