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- Jules Cluzel gives MV Agusta its first WSS win in bizarre circumstances
- A red flag period results in the race being reduced to a hectic five lap sprint
- Race favourites Kenan Sofuoglu and Michael van der Mark crash out of the restart
Jules Cluzel has given MV Agusta its first-ever World Supersport Championship victory in the most unexpected of circumstances after prevailing in a chaotic five lap sprint at Phillip Island.
The Frenchman, who started down in 13th position initially after a crash in qualifying, made the most of being the main beneficiary from a red flag being thrown eight laps into the first start, the 2012 runner-up elevated up to fifth position on the reformed grid.
Indeed, despite his swift progress up the order, Cluzel was an unlikely prospect for the win under normal circumstances with the victory seemingly destined to be contested by pole sitter Kenan Sofuoglu, Michael van der Mark and Kev Coghlan as the trio broke away from the busy chasing pack in the early stages.
However, the race would be called to a halt after eight laps when the engine of Jack Kennedy's CIA Insurance Honda expired spectacularly down the home straight, necessitating a lengthy clean-up operation.
With time constraints to the second WSBK race forcing a revised race format, it was announced the restart would be contested over a mere five laps, with a revised grid now comprising of Sofuoglu, Coghlan and van der Mark on the front row, and Raffaele de Rosa, Cluzel and Florian Marino on the second row.
Despite this, Sofuoglu picked up where he left off at the second time of asking, leading an inspired Marino and de Rosa into the opening bends as they nipped in ahead of van der Mark and Coghlan.
However, Sofuoglu's hopes of opening his 2014 account in style would be scuppered on the second lap when he spun out of the lead on the exit of turn two. Remarkably, Sofuoglu's fall would come just moments after van der Mark suffered an almost identical accident just as he was ascending to second.
With the two race favourites out, Marino assumed the lead from de Rosa, Cluzel and Coghlan, the quartet circulating in close tandem for the next two laps as they prepared for what promised to be an enthralling last lap crescendo.
Coghlan was the first to strike with a daring late-braking pass down into the Honda hairpin, the Scot squeezing past both Cluzel and Marino into the lead, the latter rider being dumped down from first to fourth behind de Rosa also in the melee.
However, with Cluzel latching onto the Coghlan ahead, the MG corner was always destined to be decisive bend and the experience of the Frenchman told when he dipped beneath the Yamaha ahead to grab the lead for the first time with just the long final left-hander remaining.
Denying Coghlan what would have been his first WSS win, Cluzel's wholly unexpected victory on the MV Agusta would still prove popular, not least after a week that has seen his Yakhnich Motorsport team struggle with persistent technical issues.
Behind Coghlan, de Rosa held on to secure his first-ever WSS podium, the Italian – still competing in his Team Lorini leathers – rewarding PTR Honda for its eleventh hour call-up to claim the team's first podium since 2012.
Marino was left in a rather disgruntled fourth after being mugged on the final lap, while Roberto Tamburini marked his debut with San Carlo Puccetti Kawasaki with a competitive run to fifth.
With several front runners hitting problems – including Ratthapark Wilairot, who crashed, and PJ Jacobsen, who suffered technical issues during the first start -, several lesser fancied riders got their chance to shine with German Supersport champion Kevin Wahr claiming an excellent sixth on his debut, ahead of British wild-card rider Graeme Gowland on the Smiths Triumph.
Italian trio Riccardo Russo, Fabio Menghi and Christian Gamarino completed the top ten, with Roberto Rolfo, Tony Covena, Nacho Calero, Marco Bussolotti and Fraser Rogers securing points for themselves in 11th to 15th.