Strong Start for GRT Yamaha in Mixed Conditions in Aragon on Friday
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team got off to a superb start in Aragon on Friday at Round 3 of the 2018 Supersport World Championship despite changeable track conditions. Lucas Mahias was battling at the front once again, with the joint championship leader finishing the day in second place overall with a 1:54.771. His teammate Federico Caricasulo showed good pace in the wet and dry and ended up fourth on the combined timesheets after setting a 1:54.820, incredibly just 0.070s off the fastest rider. Alfonso Coppola made a promising debut in the European Supersport Cup as he adjusted to his new team and bike, ending Friday in 23rd overall with a 1:58.009.
Reigning WorldSSP Champion Mahias enjoyed another strong day on his Yamaha R6, despite not enjoying the usual good feeling with he normally enjoys with his bike. The 28-year-old French rider decided not to head out in the tricky wet conditions that greeted the teams for FP1. Instead, the man from Mont-de-Marsan preferred to wait for the track to dry and heading out on slicks and demonstrating blistering pace to finish in second with a 1:59.797. The afternoon's FP2 session saw the sun come out and Mahias was once again battling at the top of the timesheets throughout, eventually finishing in second place overall with a 1:54.771, just 0.021s off the pace of the leading rider on an incredibly tight day that saw just 0.118s separate the top five riders. Mahias will work hard overnight with his team to improve his feeling with his R6 to give him the best chance of making it four consecutive WorldSSP pole positions on Saturday.
His teammate Caricasulo was also in devastating form. Making the most of the wet track time in the morning's FP1 session, he ended it in third place after setting a 2:01.570. With the improved track conditions in FP2, he went much quicker, demonstrating excellent consistency - which bodes well for Sunday's race - as well as a good one-lap pace. The 22-year-old Italian ended Friday in fourth on the combined timesheets with a 1:54.820, but with hardly anything to separate the top riders, he knows how important securing a good grid position for Sunday's race will be.
Making his debut in the WorldSSP Championship was 20-year-old Italian Alfonso Coppola, who is riding for the GRT Yamaha team in the European Supersport Cup after winning the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge last season and finishing as vice-champion in the main WorldSSP300 Championship. He adapted to the R6 superbly, despite it being a different beast than the R3 he rode in 2017, and finished Friday in 23rd overall, 3.259s off the leader but knowing there is more to come on Saturday.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team is back in action on Saturday at 9:15 am local time in Aragon for FP3, with qualifying due to start at 2 pm and Sunday's 16-lap race at 11:30 am.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd - 1:54.771
"To be honest, I am not so happy after today because the feeling is not very good with the bike. I push a lot for this time, which is not my normal style. The problem was that we effectively missed a session this morning because it was wet, which meant we could not work on my bike setup, so it has been difficult. In FP1 I didn't ride in the rain because the forecast is good for the rest of the weekend and I wanted to wait until it was dry. In the afternoon, the feeling was strange. Yes, I was second in both sessions but this is not my target, my target is always to work on my feeling for the race by doing long runs but at the moment my bike is not quite set up well enough to do that I tested a different tyre and different setting and I pushed hard for one lap to set my best time. I have a lot of work to do with my team overnight to improve my feeling with the bike so we can get a good position on the grid for the race!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 1:54.820
"Today was really good because I was fourth overall today but we are only 0.070s off the rider in first place. I am happy because the team are working well on the setup with my R6 and every time we go out we are improving. I am looking forward to SP2 tomorrow. I will try for pole but, as always, my focus will be on finding the best race setup I can, although I will try and get the best grid position possible for Sunday's race!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 23rd - 1:58.009
"The level in WorldSSP is very high! I am happy with what we achieved today but I feel I could have gone faster and that the gap to the rider in tenth is a bit too big for my liking. This is only my first day though, so we are working step by step to improve. I worked a lot on my setup today and it is great being a part of the GRT Yamaha team as they help me to stay focused and remain calm and not get too aggressive. The R6 is very fast and very different to the Yamaha R3 I rode last year. There is much more power and you have to learn different lines through the corners. At this moment, I will work with my teammates and team to try and to make another step to try to allow me to get through to SP2 and into the top ten!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"It was tricky today with the weather. In FP1 Lucas and Federico tried different tactics. Federico went out and tried to find a good feeling in the wet conditions, while Lucas preferred to wait for the track to dry, but both had a very good result. In the afternoon, it was dry and Federico not only set a fast lap to finish in fourth, he also showed really good race pace and was very consistent. Lucas had a slight issue with rear grip in the afternoon and we will work hard to try and find a solution for this tomorrow. Alfonso made a really good start. He improved his lap time from the test a lot and in the end, he could have been a second quicker but he had a slight issue with his gear lever. I think tomorrow he can fight to get into SP2. Lucas and Federico are always fighting at the front so we want to give them the best bike possible to allow them to get the most out of qualifying tomorrow. I want to thank the whole team for their efforts and, of course, Yamaha for providing us with such an excellent package."