GRT Yamaha Work Hard on Friday in Brno
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team gave it everything on Friday in Brno for the opening day of Round 7 of the 2018 WorldSSP Championship. Federico Caricasulo was fourth fastest on the overall timesheets with a 2:04.035 set in FP2, 0.533s off the top. His teammate Lucas Mahias did not get a chance to set a hot lap in the afternoon session but his 2:004.143 from FP1 was good enough for him to finish in sixth overall, with both riders making it through automatically to Saturday's SP2. ESC rider Alfonso Coppola enjoyed his best Friday so far in WorldSSP, setting a 2:05.783 to end the day in 16th overall.
After heavy rain in the morning, the Automotodrom Brno track had dried for FP1 and conditions improved even more in the afternoon's FP2 with the sun coming out and track temperatures reaching 40°C. A recent private test by the GRT Yamaha team at the circuit meant all three riders had had a chance to sample the Czech track although, because conditions were completely different on Friday in comparison, it was a case of having to pretty much start from zero regarding setup.
Caricasulo ended the morning's FP1 session in fifth place after setting a 2:04.364 despite struggling slightly with grip levels. The team tweaked the settings on his GRT Yamaha R6 and the 22-year-old Italian managed to improve by over three-tenths of a second to a 2:04.035 towards the end of FP2, to finish Friday in fifth overall on the combined timesheets, 0.108s ahead of his teammate. Caricasulo will now work with his team overnight to try and improve the feeling with his R6 even more, to allow him to qualify in the best possible position for Sunday's race.
Reigning WorldSSP Champion Mahias started off strongly in FP1, immediately getting to grips with the Brno circuit to set a 2:04.143, which was good enough to end the session in fifth. In FP2, the 28-year-old French rider focused on his race pace, with the plan to set a flying lap at the end of the session. Unfortunately, as he left the pits with 5 mins left on the clock, there was a slight issue with his rear wheel that meant he had to return to the pits and missed his chance to improve his time from the morning. Despite this, his time from FP1 saw him end the opening day in sixth on the combined timesheets, 0.641s off the top, and confident he can improve in SP2.
European Supersport Cup rider Coppola enjoyed his best Friday since the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner made the step up to WorldSSP in 2018. The 20-year-old Italian ended FP1 in 27th after setting a 2:07.711. The WorldSSP rookie then made a huge step in FP2, improving by almost two seconds to set a 2:05.783, which was good enough to see him in 16th overall on the combined timesheets, just 2.249s off the top.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are back in action at Brno at 9:15 am local time (CEST) on Saturday morning for FP3, with SP2 due to kick off at 2:25 pm.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 2:04.035
"My feeling today was not bad! We know that this is not an easy track for us but we are trying to do our best and find a good setting for the race. Today was pretty good and now we are focusing on qualifying tomorrow. My aim is to work with the team to try and improve in sector 1, as I am losing out a bit in the first sector to my rivals, so if I can fix this, we should improve quite a bit!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 6th - 2:04.143
"It was a tricky day but we knew this weekend could be tough for us. Today I tried to understand and improve the bike a bit more and the feeling was really good, especially with used tyres. Unfortunately, I did not have the best of luck at the end of FP2. We had a small technical problem with the rear wheel, which stopped me going back out on a fresh tyre as I had spent the whole session on used tyres. Therefore, I am bit sad to have finished sixth but the good news is I am feeling confident tomorrow for SP2 as we know we have more pace to come. I think it will be tough to get pole position here but I we will try and secure the best possible starting position for the race!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 16th - 2:05.783
"Yes I am very happy for today...but it could have been even better as I didn't quite have the tyre left to set a flying lap and I think I could have made it through to SP2. We have made a big step since Donington, this is thanks to Federico who showed me around the circuit today. When you are learning a new track, it can really help to follow a teammate to unlock its secrets. It is also thanks to the great work done my team, they have been working really hard to give me the best package possible. I am now focused on SP1 and will do my best to get through to SP2 for the first time!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"It was quite a tough opening day for the guys. We had a slight issue with grip levels for Federico this morning but we managed to find a solution and he improved. Lucas tried some different setups and in the end, we had a very small issue that denied him the chance to make a hot lap but we are confident that he has more pace. Alfonso really impressed, he improved a lot and that was his best finish on a Friday and we are confident he will continue to learn and progress. Thank you to the whole team for the effort they put in and Yamaha for providing us with such good support."