Mahias and Caricasulo on the Pace in Magny-Cours
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team got Round 10 of the FIM World Supersport Championship off to a flying start in Magny-Cours, with Lucas Mahias second fastest at the end of the opening day and Federico Caricasulo three places further back in fifth. It proved a difficult first day in France for Alfonso Coppola, who managed only two laps today after encountering technical problems in both free practice sessions.
Mahias, sporting a special livery on his leathers and helmet to celebrate the fact that Magny-Cours is his home race, led most of this morning's first free practice, but was demoted to third right at the end of session as Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel improved on his time.
Mahias continued to work on race set up for the majority of this afternoon's second session, before heading out for a time attack with just over two minutes remaining. The French rider set his fastest time of the weekend on his final lap, to end the opening day second on combined times and just 0.239s off provisional pole position.
Caricasulo took his normal approach to the opening day in France, using the two free practice sessions to work on finding a good race set up on his Yamaha YZF-R6. The Italian was fourth fastest in this morning's first 45-minute free practice but despite improving his time this afternoon, fast laps at the end of the session from riders looking towards qualifying tomorrow saw him slip one place to fifth.
The GRT Yamaha rider, who is just 20 points from the top of the championship standings with three races to go, will use tomorrow's third and final free practice to work towards qualifying, where he is confident he can challenge for a front row start for Sunday's 19-lap race.
Forced to sit out this morning's free practice session after encountering a technical problem having completed just two laps, European Supersport Cup rider Coppola was also frustrated by problems this afternoon, with the Italian youngster sidelined once again with a technical issue. The team will investigate the issues further tonight, as they work to ensure that Coppola is back on track for tomorrow's final free practice.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - P2 - 1:41.180
"Today was a great way to start the weekend and I'm really happy to be racing at home in France, as it makes it a special weekend for me and it just adds to my motivation. Today was all about improving the bike, adapting the set up to better suit the Magny-Cours circuit after Portimão and working to make the lap time easier to achieve. The bike, my pace and my rhythm were all good today, so I'm confident for qualifying tomorrow."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - P5 - 1:41.720
"Like every Friday, today we worked only for the race, working on the set up and improving both the pace and the consistency in race trim. There are still some improvements to be found with the bike but, overall, I'm happy with today. Tomorrow we will start to work on the lap time ahead of Superpole, where I am sure we will have the pace to fight for a front row start."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - P30 - 1:47.802
"Today was a difficult one for me. We had a technical issue this morning and then another one this afternoon, which meant I only managed to complete two laps all day. The team are working now to prepare the bike for tomorrow's final free practice session, which I need to use to make up for the time lost today."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - Team Manager
"Lucas spent most of today's two free practice sessions working on race set up, as Magny-Cours is a very different track to Portimão. His pace was good, as was his consistency, so at the end of this afternoon's session he made a time attack to prepare for Superpole tomorrow and did a great job to finish second fastest on combined times. Federico also spent today working towards Sunday's race, posting fast and consistent times while using the two sessions to understand better the potential of the bike in race trim. Tomorrow he will start to work towards the hot lap in qualifying and I am confident that he and Lucas will both challenge for the front row in Superpole. It's been a good start to what will be a tough race weekend, especially for Lucas, who will have to handle the pressure of racing in front of his home crowd. Alfonso had a problem this morning and we thought we'd managed to fix the issue between the two sessions. Unfortunately he encountered the same problem when he went out for the second free practice and, as a result, he only completed two laps today. Now we are working to investigate the problem further and to ensure it's fixed ready for tomorrow."