Mahias Fastest on Opening Day in Argentina
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias and Federico Caricasulo got Round 11 of the FIM World Supersport Championship in Argentina off to a flying start today. Mahias quickly got to grips with the all-new San Juan Villicum circuit to end the opening day at the top of the timesheet, with teammate Caricasulo just two places further back in third.
This morning's opening free practice session provided Mahias and Caricasulo with their first look at the circuit from behind the screens of their Yamaha YZF-R6 machines. The track surface was extremely dirty and grip was difficult to find as a result, but this was expected given that the track has only just been completed and this weekend's race is the first major event to be held at the circuit. Despite the lack of grip Mahias finished the session in third place, with Caricasulo close behind in fourth.
With other classes laying down rubber between the two WorldSSP sessions, the track had cleaned up considerably by the time Mahias and Caricasulo headed out for today's second and final WorldSSP free practice.
Mahias and Caricasulo made the most of the improved conditions, posting times that were two seconds faster compared to FP1. As the session drew to a close it looked set to be another one-two for GRT Yamaha, with Mahias occupying the top spot on the timesheet and Caricasulo in second, but the Italian got bumped back to third place in the final moments when his time was bettered by fellow Yamaha rider, Jules Cluzel.
As well as the changing track conditions the two GRT Yamaha riders had to contend with stones being thrown up from riders in front of them during FP2 as a few small areas of the newly laid circuit started to break up, with Mahias sustaining damage to his fairing and helmet as a result.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - P1 - 1:44.680
"I'm really happy to have finished on top today, as I'm still not completely recovered from the left ankle injury sustained in Magny-Cours. Off the bike the ankle is fine, but this is a demanding track with many left-hand corners and I had a little bit of pain on the bike. It wasn't easy today; the track is still quite dirty, there is only one clean line through every corner and there is not so much grip to be found so I was sliding a lot. Lap by lap it's improving as it cleans up, but we also had a problem with stones from the top layer of the track, which were being thrown up by the bikes in front of you. When you follow another rider closely it's like riding motocross, with the stones hitting you in the chest and arms and causing damage to both the fairing and my helmet. Hopefully they will be able to clean the track a little bit ahead of FP3 and Superpole tomorrow."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - P3 - 1:44.835
"In the first free practice session this morning the track was really dirty, which was expected as this is a new circuit. There was an improvement for FP2, but the grip levels are still very low, which meant it wasn't so easy to put in a fast time today. But, overall, it's been a positive opening day; the bike works pretty well here but we will need to confirm the settings for the race tomorrow once the track has cleaned up a bit more and there is more grip available."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - Team Manager
"Our only goal in these final two races is the podium and the maximum points possible. Today both riders put in a good performance, on what is a very difficult track, to ensure that a podium finish or even a win here in Argentina is still a realistic possibility. Lucas showed his potential again today, finishing as the fastest rider after working with his team to get the best from the bike, despite the rapidly changing track conditions. Federico also did a good job and looked set to make it a one-two for the team right up until the final minute of the session, when his lap time was bettered by the narrowest of margins and he was pushed back to third. The situation with the track breaking up in places made things difficult today but, hopefully, a solution can be found ahead of Sunday's race. Anyway we're here to race and I'm confident that we have the riders, the team and the necessary package from Yamaha to challenge once again for the win whatever the conditions."