2018 WorldSSP Thailand - Chang International Circuit
Masterful Mahias Secures Third Consecutive WorldSSP Pole Position
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias continued his incredible run by securing his third consecutive pole position on Saturday at Round 2 of the FIM Supersport World Championship in Buriram, Thailand. The man from Mont-de-Marsan was on blistering form during SP2, smashing the lap record to set a sensational 1:36.738 to make it three pole positions in a row and maintain his 100% percent record of starting every race in 2018 from the front of the grid. His teammate Federico Caricasulo was also on superb form and will join his teammate on the front row and start Sunday's race from third on the grid after setting a 1:37.235, 0.497s off the pace of Mahias.
Mahias has been in sensational form since the final round of the 2017 WorldSSP season in Qatar where he took his maiden pole position and went on to take a stunning victory. Since then, it has been a case of history repeating itself with the 28-year-old winning the opening race of the season in Phillip Island in the same fashion and now securing his third pole position in a row in Thailand. After dominating Friday's practice he ended Saturday morning's FP3 session in P2 - making it one of the very few sessions he has not topped in 2018 - after improving his best time from the previous day to a 1:37.456. Not to be outshone though, Mahias stepped it up a notch in SP2, flying straight out of the blocks to smash the outright lap record at Buriram by almost half a second as he set a 1:36.878. This was the first ever WorldSSP 1:36 lap at Buriram but, unbelievably, there was even more to come. On his second run, he somehow managed to go even quicker and improved to what can only be called an incredible 1:36.768 to secure his second pole position of the season by 0.229s. Mahias now heads into the race full of confidence and happy with the work done by his team as he looks to make it three wins out of three when the lights go out on Sunday.
His teammate Caricasulo had also been in devastating form on Friday, ending it in P3 overall with a 1:37.692. He then used Saturday morning's FP3 session to work on his rhythm with his R6 and make a few final tweaks to his Yamaha R6 before qualifying, finishing in third with a 1:37.857. He got straight down to business in SP2, setting a 1:37.776 on his first flying run, before improving by 0.541s on his second run after recording a 1:37.235. This time meant he will join his teammate on the front row for Sunday's race, with the 21-year-old lining up on the grid in third. Caricasulo is now focused on working hard overnight and during Warm Up to try and find those extra few tenths in an effort to repeat his 2017 victory in Buriram tomorrow.
It was another incredible day for Yamaha who managed to lockout the first five positions on the timing screens in SP2 to make it an all Yamaha front row, with Jules Cluzel (NRT) in second, Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) lining up at the head of the second row in fourth, and Randy Krummenacher (Bardahl Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) in fifth. Making it six Yamaha R6s in the top seven was Yamaha Thailand Racing Team's wildcard Thitipong Warokorn, while his teammate - and another wildcard - Decha Kraisart will start Sunday's race from 13th on the grid.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 1:36.738
"It was an amazing day! Last year I tried all year to secure a pole position and I had to wait until the final race of the season in Qatar to do it. Now I have been on pole for the first two races of the season and three in a row! For sure, this feels good. I just followed my plan of trying to stay as relaxed as possible on the bike and this seems to be really working for me at the moment. A lot of this comes down to my team, who have been amazing at helping me keep calm and cool. The R6 is incredible and the team have been amazing! Every session we have improved the bike and gone faster. We have been working hard in the pit box to find the best solutions and, of course, you can see how good the R6 is by the fact there was a Yamaha 1-2-3-4, but my bike feels perfect thanks to the incredible work of my team. I am looking forward to the race tomorrow and hope to repeat my results in Qatar and Phillip Island."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 3rd - 1:37.235
"I am very happy with today because we made a big step with the bike and with my race pace! Tomorrow will be very difficult, not only because it will be very hot, but because Lucas and Jules Cluzel look very fast. Now we have a lot of work to before the race to make sure we are in the best possible position to fight for the victory here like last year!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"I am really happy after today as both riders did a superb job! Lucas was just incredible, to smash the lap record on just his second flying lap in SP2, honestly, it was almost unbelievable. To then go even quicker on his second run was simply amazing. Federico improved a lot and managed to secure a brilliant front row start, which was his target. I am very satisfied with the work both riders and the team have done. Honestly, they are an amazing team and they work so well together plus, of course, I would like to thank Yamaha for giving us a package that allows us to always be fighting at the front. We are ready for tomorrow's race!"