Turn one caught out several riders at the start of the FIM Supersport World Championship race one at the Autodrom Most today and with Lucas Mahias’ subsequent crash leaving fluid on the track, the race was red flagged. The shortened to twelve-lap race was re-started under the quick re-start procedure with Niki Tuuli in eleventh and Ondrej Vostatek twentieth on the grid after the Czech rider picked up a three-place grid penalty for an as yet unknown infraction.
Tuuli didn’t get as good a launch off the line as in the first start but he held his position until the mid-point of the race where, with some assertive overtaking, the Finnish rider crossed the line in seventh place.
Niki Tuuli: “I am quite happy. There were some problems with the engine brake I think in the first three laps, I locked the rear a lot and I made some mistakes. I tried to manage the engine brake with the buttons and I started to get a better rhythm and I was catching the people so I felt my speed was quite good. I’m happy I made some overtaking and I can go forward. Happy also about the wrist because in some areas I cannot ride really well. Overall I’m happy how we did and we need to improve for tomorrow but it’s ok.”
Deputising for the injured Harry Truelove, home hero Ondrej Vostatek finished just outside the points in sixteenth in his first World Supersport race with the team in front of the avid Czech fans at his home track.
Ondrej Vostatek: “Ok the first race is done I think we still have things to work on for the next day and we will solve the issues and tomorrow it will be better.”
PTR Triumph Team Manager Simon Buckmaster: “It was a good race by Niki today because he does still have pain from his injury at Imola but he rode through that. It’s one of his best rides for a while, he was fighting well with Caricasulo and Schroetter. Obviously it’s only seventh and we need to be better but we can see areas where we can improve so we take quite a lot of optimism and confidence for Niki to be better and finish higher tomorrow.”
“Yesterday Ondrej had a really good day finishing in the top ten. He got a grid penalty for the race which I don’t understand, I can only assume it was a coming together with Bulega in qualifying but for me, even Bulega wasn’t annoyed but there’s nothing we can do about it, can’t argue it. His start today wasn’t great but yesterday he was doing the times comfortably and even when he tested here on a track day so we can look at how to improve the bike for him as we learn to understand him more. He’s only 18-years-old and there is so much expectation on him here, it’s hard to stay calm and some of that has to come from him tomorrow. He should have been today and should be in the points tomorrow.”
The tyre gamble didn’t pay off for the PTR Triumph team today in Race 2 of the 2023 FIM Supersport World Championship at the Autodrom Most in the Czech Republic.
Finland’s Niki Tuuli was in eighth place and looking to move up the order when the rain started to fall at the Czech circuit and, along with the majority of the field, he elected to pit for wet weather tyres on lap eight of the 19-lap race. The team executed a flawless pit-stop and Tuuli re-joined with no time penalty, however the track quickly dried. Tuuli was still able to finish in P9 and was the highest finisher of the riders who had opted to switch tyres.
Niki Tuuli: “In the end I am quite happy we managed to take some points this weekend in both races. From yesterday to today my hand was more painful. In the race, the first three or four laps I struggled with my hand but it was possible to stay with the group but then it started to rain and it was almost impossible to ride with slick tyres. I saw almost everyone come in front of me to change the tyre so I followed them but it was bad luck as it stopped raining just after I came in. I’m happy how we worked in Imola and here, we made a big step for sure. Now I just need to fix my hand and then I think I can fight inside the top six all of the time. I can’t wait to rest a little bit, make the hand better and come back to Magny-Cours.”
Teammate Ondrej Vostatek also took the decision to pit at this point and whilst he re-joined this was his first experience of the bike with wet weather tyres and the young Czech felt unable to continue, retiring from the race on lap 12.
Ondrej Vostatek: “The first part of the race was really good, I felt really comfortable but when it started raining I was thinking whether it was going to stop or not but I saw other riders going for wets and also the first part of the track was very wet so I was thinking it would be better to pit but we lost a lot of time there. For me it was an absolute disaster because I didn’t feel good on the bike with wet tyres and the track was drying so I pitted and retired from the race.”
PTR Triumph Team Manager Simon Buckmaster: “Obviously a difficult race, all the top riders stopped apart from Sofuoglu and Schroetter. We didn’t tell Niki to pit, we were considering it, but he pitted. While it was wet he was fast but the rain stopped and all we can say is we salvaged P9 out of it, we scored more points than the people directly behind us and we are still sixth in the Championship. We want to be better, it’s still possible. In Australia for instance, the pit-stop worked for us and here it didn’t. It’s easy to look back and say we should have stayed out but we can only have confidence in the fact that Niki is riding better. We will make a test with him in Aragon and look to have good results for the rest of the season.”
“It was such a difficult time for Ondrej. He showed such good pace on Friday, there’s so much expectation on an 18-year-old guy with so little time on the bike and then such a difficult race. He pitted at the same time as Niki so then we had to change the tyres on both. He’d never ridden the bike in the rain and he just didn’t have the feel so he stopped in the race. He’s very sorry about that but he’s shown so much potential and it’s a pleasure to work with him. You can see he is a young kid with a great ability and a good future in the World Supersport Championship.”