Spinelli wins chaotic Assen opener on WSBK debut

Nicholas Spinelli in action at Assen
[Getty Images]

Nicholas Spinelli wins on his World Superbike debut after an inspired tyre choice in a dramatic, red-flagged wet-dry opener at Assen.

Spinelli, who was deputising for the injured Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci, built up a 25-second led after selecting wet tyres on the damp Dutch circuit.

The rest of the grid, who selected dry tyres, struggled in the early stages but began to catch the 22-year-old Italian.

Just when it looked like Toprak Razgatlioglu would pounce on Spinelli, the red flag was shown.

With just six laps remaining, race direction declared the race would not be restarted with oil on the circuit.

BMW rider Razgatliouglu finished second ahead of reigning champion Alvaro Bautista.

Northern Ireland's Jonathan Rea, who started from pole position on his Yamaha, was classified in sixth.

'Wow, I win'

After a sensational debut win, in which fortune favoured Spinelli's brave tyre choice, the Italian rider was struggled to sum up his victory.

"It's incredible," Spinelli told Eurosport after his sensational win.

"The last lap the gap was small but when I seen the red flag, I was like 'wow, I win'."

Spinelli, who started in 11th, held a 25 second lead after four laps as he picked his way through the order in the wet conditions.

The circuit continued to dry as the race progressed and the chasing pack, led by Bautista, began to eat into Spinelli's lead, which dropped to 18 seconds with 11 laps to go.

The advantage dropped further to nine seconds with nine laps to go as the slick-shod runners began to run at times four seconds quicker per lap than Spinelli.

Razgatlioglu made a forceful move on Bautista heading into the final chicane to lead the charge with seven laps remaining.

That proved to be decisive, as the race was stopped on the following lap just as the 2021 champion looked to make a move on Spinelli.

"It was a strange race but I really enjoyed it," said Razgatlioglu.

"Everyone was sliding looking for the good line. If we had one more lap, I was maybe winning but I am happy."

There was disappointment for Rea after he fell back after starting from pole, but the six-time champion has another opportunity in the Superpole race and second feature race on Sunday.

World Superbike Championship, Assen - Race One

1. Nicholas Spinelli (Ducati)

2. Toprak Razgatlioglu (BMW) + 1.9 seconds

3. Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) +2.0

4. Remy Gardner (Yamaha) +4.8

5. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) +5.1

6. Jonathan Rea (Yamaha) +5.3

7. Michael van der Mark (BMW) +5.5

8. Scott Redding (BMW) +11.2

Championship standings

1. Nicolo Bulega (Duacti) 92 points

2. Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) 91

3. Toprak Razgatlioglu (BMW) 91

4. Alex Lowes (Kawasaki) 86

5. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 51

15. Jonathan Rea (Yamaha) 18