Mahias Maintains 100% Front Row Record on Saturday at Donington Park
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team enjoyed a positive Saturday at Round 6 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship at Donington Park on Saturday. Reigning WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, continued his run of qualifying on the front row in every race so far in 2018 as he secured second on the grid for Sunday's race after setting a 1:30.465. His teammate Federico Caricasulo has shown excellent race pace all weekend but did not have the best of feelings with his R6 in SP2, setting a 1:31.118 that was good enough for him to qualify on the third row in seventh place. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola improved his best time from Friday by over three seconds and the rookie will line up on the grid on the eighth row in 22nd.
After torrential rain and strong winds on Friday, conditions improved on Saturday with the circuit fully dry and track temperatures reaching 30°C for qualifying. Mahias is currently second in the championship standings with 79 points, just two-points behind Randy Krummenacher, and is determined to return to the podium at Donington Park for the first time since Thailand. The 29-year-old French rider ended Friday's practice in second overall and improved in Saturday morning's FP3 to end the session with a 1:30.396. In SP2, he gave it his all and managed to secure his seventh consecutive WorldSSP front-row start (including his Qatar pole in 2017) after setting a 1:30.465 and will line up in second on the grid, happy with his race pace and determined to fight for victory.
Caricasulo had topped Friday's practice and ended FP3 in third after setting a 1:30.880. The 22-year-old Italian was keen to find a solution to some grip issues he was having in the warmer track conditions on Saturday as he did not quite have the same feeling with his GRT Yamaha R6 in SP2. Nonetheless, he pushed as hard as he could to set a 1:31.118 which was good enough for seventh on the grid and he will start Sunday's race from the third row, confident he can fight for the podium.
ESC rider Coppola's best time from Friday was a 1:36.117, which saw him in 22nd on the combined timesheets. Incredibly, as the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner continues his adjustment to the WorldSSP class after his step up from WorldSSP300, he managed to improve to a 1:33.003 in FP3 to finish in 20th. Battling it out in SP1, he had a slight issue with one of his knee sliders coming off and he was forced to return to the pits for a new one. Despite this, he improved once again to set a 1:32.973 and qualify in 22nd for Sunday's race. His aim will be to now make another step overnight and in Warm Up to allow him to fight for his first championship point come Sunday.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team return to action on Sunday at 9:20 am local time (GMT+1) for Warm Up, with the 20-lap race scheduled for 11:30 am.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd - 1:30.465
"It was a very good qualification today! Again we are on the front row, which makes it all six races this season which, for sure, is good. Now my target is to return to the podium because it has been a long time since my last podium. I hope tomorrow to have a good race, my pace is good and the bike is good. My team have worked very hard to give me the best bike possible. I made a few little mistakes during SP2 but P2 is good for tomorrow's race!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 7th - 1:31.118
"In SP2, we tried something different on the bike to give us a better feeling for the race. I think it is the right direction to take but we have to fine-tune the setting to get it right, so in SP2 it was tough to set a hot lap due to this but for tomorrow it will make us stronger. I think we can have a good race and fight for the victory but to do that we just need to make a little step with the bike overnight and in Warm Up."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 22nd - 1:32.973
"I did not have the best qualifying due to a problem with my race suit. I lost one of my knee sliders and had to return to the pits for a new one. This affected my concentration and also meant I was not able to follow another rider, which is very important for at the moment to learn as much as I can. We know that we can do much better during the race, so my aim is to get a good start and bring home my first championship points of the season!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"Honestly, after our the start we made on Friday we thought today would go a bit better, even if we are very satisfied with Lucas as second place for him today was important as he has a really good race pace. To be able to fight at the front straightaway will give him the best chance to fight for the win and get back on the podium. Federico had a grip issue that became worse when the temperature rose so we are currently working to find a good solution for Warm Up so that we can confirm it for the race. His team are working very hard overnight to improve his feeling with the bike. Alfonso has made a good start to the weekend and is working very hard to record his first points-scoring finish on Sunday. He is working well with the team and although it is a long journey to adapt to the WorldSSP class, he has rewarded our faith in him and is always just getting better and better. Thanks to the whole team who have done an incredible job, as always, and to Yamaha for giving us the package to fight at the front!"