Mahias Extends Championship Lead with Assen Thriller
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias extended his championship lead to 20 points after a thrilling race at the TT Circuit Assen, round four of the 2017 World Supersport Championship. The French rider secured second by just 0.005s in a photo finish in front of the packed grandstands after a race long battle with five riders. His teammate Federico Caricasulo was also involved in the scrap for the podium, riding through the pain to cross the line in sixth.
Mahias arrived in Assen with a slender five-point lead in the championship and, despite not having the easiest of weekends as he struggled to find the perfect setup, was delighted to secure his third podium of the season. The French rider got a lightning start from fourth on the grid, moving up to second by the first corner. Mahias then found himself in an excellent race long fight between five riders for second place, which saw bikes swapping places at nearly every corner. Struggling to find his usual consistency, he found himself down in fifth on lap 11, but still in the battle. With just two laps to go, the Frenchman passed his teammate for third and just a few corners later took second from Jules Cluzel. In a thrilling last lap, Mahias managed to hold off Cluzel in the final corners and crossed the line triumphantly pulling a wheelie on his Yamaha YZF-R6 to beat Cluzel to second place by just five-thousandths of a second. Championship leader Mahias (65pts) will now head to Imola in two weeks time confident to battle for the podium and stretch his points advantage further.
Caricasulo started the race from ninth on the grid, still recovering from the fractured collarbone he suffered at Aragon. The Italian made the most of a good start to find himself in fifth by the third lap and involved in the epic scrap for the podium. Battling throughout the race, despite the pain he was clearly in, he started the last lap in an excellent fourth place. He managed to hold onto this position until the last chicane, when his injury meant he couldn't quite get the bike stopped in time. He was disappointed to lose out on the sprint to the line, but still managed to secure an impressive sixth place. It was the Italian riders third point scoring finish of the season and sees him sixth in the championship standings with 35 points.
It was also a good weekend for Sheridan Morais on his Kallio Racing 2016 YZF-R6, with the South African crossing the line in fifth to add to his podium from Aragon, he now sits second in the championship with 45 points.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
"It was a very good race and it was great to get my third podium in four races. It was a good result for the championship and I am happy. The race was very difficult because Kenan was very fast in Free Practice and in Qualifying. I tried at the start of the race to follow him, but this was very difficult. I lost three places at turn five when I ran wide and that made it difficult. I am not happy with my consistency during the race, normally it is one of my strong points. This is a good result for Yamaha and the championship because I go home with a 20-point lead in the standings. I am looking forward to Imola, where hopefully I can rediscover my consistency and fight for the win."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
"My bike was really good today. The front tyre dropped a bit in the last four of five laps and also the problem was in the last three or four laps I could not control my bike because of my shoulder injury. This made it very difficult to ride, but I knew the importance of securing points. When I arrived at the last chicane I found it hard to brake and lost two places. Considering my injury I am happy with this result and I am looking forward to the next race in Imola, where my shoulder will have had more time to heal."
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP Team Manager
"The team did a fantastic job, on both sides of the garage! Today we knew Kenan had something more and that he would be hard to beat. Lucas had a fantastic race, he was very clever and was very happy with the bike! We were a bit scared when he pulled the wheelie over the line, because Jules was so close, but he is like that, a fantastic rider, but a little crazy in a fantastic way! Federico had an incredible race; beforehand we did not imagine he could be that fast with his injury. In the last few laps, the injury was a real problem and he was thinking about stopping as he was in so much pain. He simply didn't have any feeling by the last chicane, and had no chance of keeping fourth, so he was very happy with the result. In the end, it has been a great weekend and Lucas now has a 20-point lead in the championship, as well Federico gained ten points and is now sixth, so thanks to the team for all their efforts!"