WSS Sepang: van der Mark marches on with Sepang win

Michael van der Mark capitalises on a final corner mistake by Jules Cluzel to claim a third win and extend his WSS championship lead.
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  • Michael van der Mark extends his WSS championship lead with a hard fought win at Sepang
  • The PATA Honda rider gets the edge on Jules Cluzel after the Frenchman runs wide at the final turn
  • Kenan Sofuoglu completes the podium but loses more ground in the title fight

Michael van der Mark has extended his lead in the World Supersport Championship standings to 33 points after capitalising on a final corner error by Jules Cluzel to snatch victory by just 0.018secs.

A pulsating encounter from start-to-finish, Cluzel had come into the sixth WSS race of the season as the favourite after dominating practice and qualifying, though he was made to work hard from the off when he was beaten into the first turns by a fast-starting Kenan Sofuoglu.

Having set the fastest time of the weekend thus far in pre-race warm-up, Sofuoglu appeared to have the pace make a charge from the front, but would instead find himself leading a train of five riders, including Cluzel, Michael van der Mark, Roberto Rolfo and Lorenzo Zanetti.

Holding firm for the first-half of the race, despite Cluzel's occasional attempts to wrest the lead from Sofuoglu, the Frenchman would in fact fall behind van der Mark and Rolfo on lap seven, paving the way for both riders to challenge the leader.

Indeed, van der Mark wouldn't waste time in putting pressure on Sofuoglu, the Turk getting it wrong into turn one to allow his rival straight through, with Rolfo and Cluzel promptly following too.

When Cluzel immediately snatched second from Rolfo on lap eight, both he and van der Mark would extend their margin over the field to set up another final lap showdown, just as they had done last time out at Donington Park.

Signalling his intent by snatching the lead into turn nine, the pair entered the long back straight with Cluzel in front, albeit with van der Mark inevitably lining up a pass into the final corner hairpin. However, Cluzel would simply open the door for van der Mark by running too deep into the final corner, the PATA Honda rider slipping up the inside and doing just enough to keep the MV Agusta behind him on the run to the chequered flag.

A third win of the season, van der Mark's victory sees him extend his lead over Cluzel in the standings to a healthy 33 points.

Behind Cluzel, Sofuoglu prevailed in a similar final lap tussle with Rolfo to snatch the podium – only his second of the season -, though the pre-season favourite is now 61 points off the championship fight.

Despite missing out on the podium, fourth place is Rolfo's best finish of the season, the GO Eleven Kawasaki rider finishing well ahead of countryman Lorenzo Zanetti.

Ratthapark Wilairot won the battle of the PTR Hondas in sixth place, ahead of team-mate Raffaele de Rosa, with PJ Jacobsen eighth, local wild-card Zaqhwan Zaidi an impressive ninth and Marco Bussolotti rounding out the top ten.

A race of fairly high attrition, Kev Coghlan – who started second - was a high profile faller early on when he slipped out at turn four whilst attempting to make up ground from a poor getaway.

Perhaps more importantly, however, was Florian Marino's curious crash on lap 12, the Frenchman – who was second overall coming into the race – slipping off moments after Jack Kennedy and Roberto Tamburini had tangled up ahead of him around turn ten.

Their exits contributed to most finishers scoring points, with Christian Gamarino, Riccardo Russo, Alessandro Nocco, Vladimir Leonov and Tony Covena rounding out the all-important top fifteen.

Tagged as: Honda , WSS , van der Mark

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