2018 WorldSSP Thailand - Chang International Circuit
Mahias Sets the Bar in Buriram on Friday
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias continued where he had left off in Phillip Island on Friday for Round 2 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship in Buriram, Thailand. The reigning WorldSSP Champion dominated proceedings on the opening day at a hot and humid Chang International Circuit, leading the way in both practice sessions and ending the day on top of the timesheets with a sensational 1:37.469. Not to be outshone, his teammate Federico Caricasulo also showed stunning pace to end Friday in third overall after setting 1:37.692 to finish just 0.223s behind his teammate.
Mahias carried on the form that saw him dominate the opening round at Phillip Island, where he took a superb win from pole position to get his title defence off to the perfect start. The 28-year-old French rider topped FP1 by setting a 1:37.469, just 0.124s off the WorldSSP lap record at the circuit. Having prepared specially for the hot and humid conditions in Thailand, his pace showed no signs of wilting in the afternoon's warmer FP2 session as he set a 1:37.592, with Mahias able to show excellent consistency as he used the session to work on his setup for Sunday's race. After topping both practice sessions, he now heads into Saturday's qualifying full of confidence, looking to secure his third pole position in a row.
His teammate Caricasulo also displayed excellent pace, as he looks to build on his fourth-place finish last time out at Phillip Island at a track where he took his maiden WorldSSP victory last season. Getting straight down to work in the morning's FP1 session, the 21-year-old Italian was impressive as he ended it in third place with a 1:38.219, 0.750s off the pace of his teammate. Determined to improve in the afternoon, he managed to shave over half a second off his best time, recording a 1:37.692 to conclude the day in third overall, just 0.223s behind Mahias, as he joined his teammate in automatically qualifying for SP2 on Saturday.
It was another great day for Yamaha after their lockout of the top four slots during the Phillip Island race, as they dominated once again and showed that the YZF-R6 is the bike to beat this year in WorldSSP by completing a Yamaha 1-2-3-4 on the combined timesheets, with Randy Krummenacher (Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) in second and Jules Cluzel (NRT) fourth.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team is back in action on Saturday at 11:15 am local time for Free Practice 3, with SP2 at 2:55 pm and Sunday's race scheduled for 2.30 pm.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 1:37.469
"Today was a big surprise because this is not my strongest track on the calendar, it can be difficult and I don't exactly have a brilliant record here. I went out and followed my plan for the moment, which is just to relax on the bike and enjoy riding it, and it felt good. When I came in from FP1 it was a big surprise because my lap time was very fast and close to the lap record. In FP2, it was hotter and so it was a little bit tougher but I worked on my race pace, and my lap times were good. I didn't put in a new tyre at the end of FP2 to try and set a fast lap because I am feeling confident and normally you don't improve a lot due to the temperature. The feeling was really good, the R6 was perfect and I have been working a lot with the mechanics to tweak the settings and it feels amazing now. You can see how good the R6 is by the fact Yamaha managed a 1-2-3-4. I will be aiming to try and get the same results as I did in Qatar and Phillip Island. The weekend has started well, but I am sorry that Kenan (Sofouglu) cannot ride due to his injury, I wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to battling him again on track soon!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 3rd - 1:37.692
"I am happy because we did a really good job together as a team today. We started in a difficult way this morning because we had no data to be fast from last year, so we worked hard to constantly improve the bike today and we closed the gap to Lucas in FP1 by a lot in FP2. Tomorrow we will try and improve more and fight for pole position!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"It has been another great day! First Lucas showed amazing pace and confirmed how quick he can be. It's incredible, he just seems so comfortable on his R6 at the moment. Federico also worked very well and it was important for us to get such a great start for both riders. In both sessions, we were first and third, so that means we are working in the right way and we hope to continue this so we can reach our targets this weekend. I want to thank the team for working so hard and Yamaha for providing an amazing package, as always, and we will try and fight for the win again like we did last year!"