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WSS: Crutchlow fall gifts victory to Sofuoglu
27 September 2009
The World Supersport title battle has been thrown wide open again after a fall from the lead by Cal Crutchlow allowed second place Eugene Laverty to close the gap to a mere two points overall.
Crutchlow looked set to extend his advantage at the top of the standings after working his way to the front of the aggregate timesheets, but almost as soon as he'd taken the lead, he came down into the Aqua Minerale right-hander just two laps from home.
His misfortune promoted Kenan Sofuoglu into the lead, the Turk going on to take his third victory of the season, while Laverty held on for well deserved second place after fighting ride from seventh on the grid.
In a race that was interrupted at the half-way point following a dramatic engine blow for then leader Joan Lascorz, Crutchlow was made to work hard from the very beginning after a slow start from pole position dropped him to fifth.
Allowing fellow front row starters Sofuoglu, Massimo Roccoli and Lascorz to take advantage, Crutchlow also found himself behind Laverty's Parkalgar Honda.
While both riders soon dispatched of Roccoli – who would go on to fall at Tosa on seven -, they began to embark on the fight for third. The position would eventually fall to Crutchlow when he passed on lap four at Villeneuve. Even so, a fierce pace by Sofuoglu and Lascorz up front meant Crutchlow still had a sizeable margin to make up on his rivals.
Gradually though, Crutchlow began to move into contention, setting a series of fastest laps to be on the tail of the pair – themselves disputing third in the standings - on lap ten.
With Sofuoglu making a slight error out of the final corner chicane, Lascorz and Crutchlow promptly breezed into the lead. However, Lascorz's hopes of taking Kawasaki to victory were dashed just moments later when the ZX-6R blew out of the Villeneuve chicane.
Coating the circuit in oil, Lascorz continued unbeknown all the way to Piratella before finally pulling off. With oil on the racing line of three bends, the race was duly red flagged to clear the circuit.
When racing resumed with nine laps remaining, Crutchlow again got away badly, with Laverty diving into a somewhat false lead, the title contender having been five seconds behind on aggregate at the restart.
Sofuoglu, who remained 0.5secs up on Crutchlow courtesy the count-back system, hit back at Rivazza by the end of the first restarted lap. While the pair would swap positions again two laps later, Laverty would be forced to drop back to third when Crutchlow followed through at Variante Bassa.
With the two aggregate leaders nose-to-tail on the track, Crutchlow made his move out of Tosa, getting a great run into Piratella to take the lead with just three laps remaining.
Immediately pulling away, Crutchlow had just two laps to go in order to secure an important sixth win of the season when he suddenly crashed out at high-speed on the entry to Aqua Minerale. Sliding off into the barriers, while Crutchlow was up on his feet, there was no opportunity to rejoin the race.
His shocking demise opened up the door for Sofuoglu to ease to a fine third win of the season, a result that puts distance between himself and Lascorz in the overall standings.
More importantly was second place for Laverty, who held off Crutchlow's team-mate Fabien Foret to finish in second place, a result that slashes his rival's overall lead with just Magny-Cours and Portimao remaining.
With the aggregate times making the order over the line different to that on the timesheets, Chaz Davies emerged an outstanding fourth on his World Supersport debut for BE1 Triumph. Having been sixth heading into the restart, he was able to overhaul both team-mate Garry McCoy and Andrew Pitt to snatch the place on the last lap by less than a second.
Katsuaki Fujiwara saved Kawasaki's blushes in seventh, ahead of Anthony West, Miguel Praia and Danilo Dell'Omo. In a race of attrition that saw just 17 riders finish, Michele Pirro, Cristiano Migliorati, Olivier Four, Barry Veneman and Flavio Gentile completed the points.