6 May 2012
Cluzel holds off Lowes for maiden win
Taking time to regain his rhythm, Lowes's renewed victory challenge wouldn't come until the final three laps as he took big chunks out of Cluzel's advantage.
With Cluzel seemingly struggling more with his tyres on the steadily drying surface, Lowes was back behind him with just half a lap of the race remaining. Identifying the final corner as his best place to pass, Lowes attempted to make his move stick, but his wide exit simply enabled Cluzel to squeeze through.
Joy for Cluzel, though Lowes will have to wait longer for the chance to win a maiden WSS race, the result nonetheless gets him back into the title fight, just ten points behind Kenan Sofuoglu.
In fact, Sofuoglu very nearly didn't even make the race after crashing on the sighting lap, but the low speed impact ensured he was able to get back up and onto the grid in time. Running third initially, a mistake on lap seven dropped him behind both Imre Toth and Stefano Cruciani, but a charge would see him regain the position before the chequered flag.
Despite losing out to Sofuoglu, fourth and fifth still signals the best-ever WSS finish for Toth and wild-card entrant Cruciani, as well as their respective Toth Honda and Puccetti Kawasaki teams.
Maintaining his perfect scoring record this year, Alex Baldolini notched up another fine result on the Suriano Triumph in sixth position, ahead of the best of the Yamaha contingent Massimo Roccoli.
With Italians sweeping positions fifth to tenth, Andrea Antonelli, Vittorio Iannuzzo and WSS debutant Raffaele de Rosa flew the flag in eighth, ninth and tenth respectively.
Outside the top ten, Jed Metcher was a solid 11th on the RivaMoto Yamaha, the Australian finishing ahead of erstwhile championship leader Fabien Foret, who spent much of his race outside the top ten as he struggled with the conditions. The Frenchman has now slipped behind both Sofuoglu and Lowes in the title hunt.
Another rider to score in each race this year, Luca Marconi was 13th for VFT Yamaha, while British duo Kieran Clarke and Martin Jessopp claimed their first points of the season in 14th and 15th.
Despite the conditions, the race wasn't significantly high in attrition, though notable failures to finish included Sheridan Morais, who fell heavily on the exit of Ascari, and Vladimir Leonov, the Assen podium winner crashing out of sixth position on lap six.
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