GRT Yamaha Secure 1-2 in WorldSSP on Friday at Donington Park
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team dominated the opening day at Round 6 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship after securing a sensational 1-2 on Friday in tricky conditions at Donington Park. Federico Caricasulo topped the combined timesheets after setting a 1:31.587 in FP2 with his teammate Lucas Mahias just 0.019s behind in second place, after the reigning WorldSSP Champion had earlier topped FP1, with both riders making it straight through to Saturday's SP2. It was another encouraging day for European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola as he got to grips with his Yamaha R6 for the first time in the wet, ending the day in 22nd overall.
It was a wet and windy Donington Park that greeted the GRT team on Friday morning, with torrential rain and a maximum track temperature of 17°C making the conditions treacherous, although the rain had gone and the track was starting to dry by the time FP2 came around in the afternoon.
Caricasulo ended the morning's session in sixth after setting a 1:47.058, despite a small crash at Mcleans towards the end. The 22-year-old Italian eyes lit up as the track started to dry and he displayed sensational pace in the afternoon's FP2 session despite conditions not being ideal. With less than a minute on the clock remaining, he went out and set a 1:31.587 to top the combined timesheets from his teammate and he is now confident that he can fight for pole position in SP2 on Saturday.
Mahias has a reputation for being quick in the wet and he demonstrated why by topping the morning's FP1 session, despite not having ridden in conditions as bad as that for a number of seasons. The 29-year-old French rider set a 1:44.775 to finish 0.849s ahead of the rest of the field. With track conditions improving for FP2, Mahias had a small crash at the start of the session at Goddards but was immediately back into the action and looked like he would end the day on top of the timesheets before Caricasulo pipped him at the last moment, meaning he finished in second overall with a 1:31.606, just 19 thousandths of second behind his teammate.
Coppola continued his impressive progress in the European Supersport Cup as the 2017 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner showed superb improvements on Friday. FP1 gave the 20-year-old Italian a chance to ride his GRT Yamaha R6 in full wet conditions for the first time and, despite it not being the ideal way to kick off the weekend as he tries to adapt to riding the more powerful R6, he ended the session in 23rd with a 1:53.626. Learning valuable lessons in the tricky conditions, Coppola improved to 22nd in SP2 after setting a 1:36.117 and he is confident he can make another step on Saturday morning. His aim is now to study the data collected today with his team and he is looking forward to battling it out in SP1 on Saturday.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are back in action on Saturday at Donington Park at 9:30 am local time (GMT+1) for FP3, with qualifying due to start at 2:15 pm.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 1:31.587
"Today was good! It was a little bit difficult in the rain in FP1, I was fast but I crashed. In the dry, I felt good with my bike and it was easy to push in the drier conditions as my R6 felt so good. I am already looking forward to tomorrow, hopefully, it will be dry but I am confident I can be fast whatever the weather conditions!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd - 1:31.606
"I am happy because it was a very difficult day with the weather. This morning it was really wet and, honestly, it has probably been 3-4 years since I have ridden in conditions like that. I finished in first with a very good feeling with my bike and I was very happy. In FP2, it was difficult because it wasn't really dry or wet, but in-between, and I had a very slow crash at the beginning of the session and after that, I pushed really hard. I had a little problem with my helmet visor misting up so, all in all, I am happy with the work done and I am confident for tomorrow, let's hope we get better weather!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 22nd - 1:36.117
"The conditions were very tricky. In FP1, the track was very wet and this is the first fully wet session I have done on the R6 and it was very difficult as I had no feeling with the bike and track. In FP2, we made a good step but it was hard because it wasn't fully wet or fully dry. It's been a good start, we will study the data overnight and try and close the gap to the guys at the front tomorrow. Donington is a fast and flowing circuit and finding a good line is very important at this track!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"I am very happy and it was great to get the 1-2! Federico and Lucas are very close to each other in regards to pace and in the morning's tricky conditions, they were both competitive and Lucas showed how quick he can be in the wet. Federico was great in the wet but when it dried he had electric pace and he was very quick. Lucas was fast in the wet and dry and the whole team have done an amazing job, with both our riders fighting at the top. Alfonso has had another good day, he is improving every time he gets on his bike as he continues to adapt his riding style from WorldSSP300. It is a long journey but he has a very good potential and we are sure he will be fighting hard all weekend. Thank you to the whole team and, of course, Yamaha for their support, and we deserve the 1-2 as it is down to the team's hard work!"