Double Front-Row Start for GRT Yamaha in Aragon
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team secured their third consecutive double front-row start on Saturday in Aragon at Round 3 of the 2018 Supersport World Championship. Reigning WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, just missed out on securing his fourth pole position in a row by 0.022s and will start Sunday's race from second on the grid. His teammate Federico Caricasulo was just a further 0.059s further back in third and will join his teammate on the front row for Sunday's race. Alfonso Coppola also impressed in the European Supersport Cup, improving his time from Friday by 1.714s to qualify in 20th.
Mahias ended Friday's practice in second overall, despite missing most of FP1 due to the wet conditions. The Man from Mont-de-Marsan was celebrating his 29th birthday on Saturday and was in sensational form, having made up for the lost time, he rediscovered his feeling with his beloved Yamaha R6. He secured second on the grid on his penultimate lap in SP2 with a 1:53.589 and was going even quicker on his next flying lap - he was up by 0.3s in the first sector - but he ran out of grip on the qualifier tyre and had to settle for starting Sunday's race from the middle of the front row. Mahias is confident that although he missed out on setting the fastest time on Saturday, his race pace will allow him to fight for victory on Sunday.
His teammate Caricasulo was fourth overall on Friday, but only 0.070s off the pace of the fastest rider. This theme continued on Saturday as the 22-year-old Italian ended FP4 in third, just 0.80s off the pace. Showing improvement every time he went out on his R6, he was determined to secure a good grid position for Sunday's race. There was almost nothing to separate the top 3 riders in SP2, with Caricasulo setting a 1:53.648, just 0.081s off the pole man. He will line up next to his teammate in third on the grid on Sunday and feels that he has the consistency and pace to challenge for the win when the lights go out for the race.
Coppola also impressed as the 20-year-old Italian - making his debut in WorldSSP in the European Supersport Cup - managed to improve his time dramatically on Saturday. Still adapting to riding the Yamaha R6 after making the step up from WorldSSP300, he showed why he was the inaugural winner of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge by improving his best time of 1:58.009 from Friday to a 1:56.295 in SP1. This was good enough to see the talented young rider to line up in 20th on the grid for Sunday's race where his aim will be to finish in the points.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd - 1:53.589
"It was a good qualification for me today. Honestly, I was not confident before SP2 because I did not have a great feeling with my R6. This was because I lost FP1 to the rain and it is difficult to build a good weekend when you lose a practice session that is so important for setting up your bike. The team worked a lot to improve the bike and my feeling was good in SP2! One of the problems today was that the track was very cold and with a qualifier tyre you just have one lap to set a good time.it is difficult because it is impossible to make the tyre last two laps, so you only have one chance to get it right. My target was the front row, I am second, so this is good for the race tomorrow. It will be a very hard race as there are a number of riders with very good pace but I am confident because the race is completely different and is not just about one lap. I think tyre wear will play a huge part on Sunday and you will see every bike start to slide around. When the bike slides around, normally I am fast, so I am looking forward to the race!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 3rd - 1:53.648
"I am very happy because I did not expect to do a 1:53 lap! I missed out on pole position by just 0.080s, so it is not a problem for the race but I would like to have been on pole as I was so close. Tomorrow, I think we can have a really good race, there are five riders that are very quick and can win so it will be very tough but we have a good bike, my team is working well and I am optimistic I can fight for the victory!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 20th - 1:56.295
"I am not happy for having to start from 20th on the grid but I am very happy with the amount I managed to improve my time. I was five seconds quicker in SP1 than I was at the test here a few weeks ago, which is really good. It was a difficult qualifying, as you have to do a few laps, then stop and go out again for a few more laps, and the pace is strong. I feel good for the race tomorrow, I would like to thank my team for all their hard work and the fact I managed to do a 1:56.2 is good for the race. Right now I am focused on Warm Up, and my target for the race is to finish inside the points and set an even quicker time!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"I am very happy for all three of my riders because they all did such a good job. Lucas and Federico have been so consistent it is incredible. They have been in the top three in nearly every session and they have recorded their third consecutive double front-row start. That consistency is important as the championship has changed this year and there are lots of riders who are fast, so it is very important to show that we can always be in and around the top 3 at each track. Lucas only just missed out on pole and Federico also did an incredible job, and both have shown very good race pace and we feel we have the potential to continue our form from the first two rounds. Alfonso has really impressed me! We knew he had a good potential but now we are sure that we have secured another amazing rider into the Yamaha family. I want to thank Yamaha and to the whole team. I am so proud of all of the people that work in the team as they have done an amazing job!"