Mahias Storms to Podium in WorldSSP at Portimao
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias was involved in an exhilarating race-long duel with championship rival Kenan Sofuoglu during Sunday at Portimao for round nine of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship. The French rider battled with his championship rival up until the chequered flag, just missing out on the race win by 0.080s as he crossed the line in second to record his seventh podium of the season. His teammate Federico Caricasulo had looked strong all weekend but the wrong tyre choice meant he missed out on a possible podium chance, despite this, the Italian fought hard to bring his Yamaha R6 home in seventh place.
Mahias lined up on the middle of the front row for Sunday's race, after an impressive qualifying performance on Saturday, leading the championship by one point from Sofuoglu. When the lights went out he made a great start and got the holeshot into turn 1 and over the first few laps he was involved in an excellent battle for the lead with Sofuoglu, PJ Jacobsen, and Jules Cluzel. By lap 8, the 28-year-old had broken away at the front with Sofuoglu and it came down to an epic game of cat and mouse between the two riders. Biding his time to make a move at the last corner on the last lap, Mahias stalked Sofuoglu and there was nothing to separate the two riders. Unfortunately, when the last lap came Mahias had a big moment at Turn 6 and almost crashed, but somehow, recovered to put pressure back on Sofuoglu and coming out of the final corner it was a sprint to the line between the two championship rivals. Mahias just missed out on the race win in a finish that saw just eight-hundredths of a second split the two. The 20 points Mahias collected means he is now second in the championship standings with 141 points, just four points behind Sofuoglu, heading into his home round at Magny-Cours.
Caricasulo had shown great race pace all weekend. Qualifying in seventh, he didn't have the best of starts during the race after choosing to go with the SC1 soft rear tyre. The 21-year-old Italian just didn't have the same feeling on his Yamaha R6 as he had in practice on the SC0 tyre, but he gave it his all to try and stick with the leading group. On lap 11 he was in sixth when he ran off track and rejoined in eighth, which meant he had to get his head down and try and make up for lost time. He did just that, riding superbly over the last few laps to fight back and cross the line in seventh. With this result, Caricasulo remains sixth in the Championship standings with 60 points, 19 points behind PJ Jacobsen in fifth.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team returns to action for round ten of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship at Magny-Cours on the 29th September-1st October in France. Check out the race results.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd +0.080s
"The race was very good, I am very happy! I felt very strong and I pushed a lot to follow Kenan and I hoped to overtake him in the last corner but I made a mistake on the last lap and after that, it was difficult to get past. For the championship, it doesn't make much difference, he only has a four-point lead and Portimao is the last track on the calendar that I don't have a great feeling at. Now, the next three races, I like the tracks a lot and have good experience riding at them so, for sure, the championship is not finished yet! It is my home race next at Magny Cours and I will try my best to win!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 7th +22.990s
"I was very confident about my rhythm in the race and felt I could stay with the front riders but we chose the wrong tyre. We went with the SC1 rear tyre and everyone else in the top ten was on the SC0 and it was impossible to stay with them. It is a shame because my pace during practice on the SC0 was really good and I believed I would be able to fight for the race win. Unfortunately, that didn't happen so I tried my best to achieve the best result I could. I am looking forward to Magny-Cours already!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"I am really proud of what Lucas did today. We finished second, but that's not important. Even the fact he lost the championship lead doesn't really matter as I am confident that we are able to win the championship because today Lucas showed that we are there and we just need to make one more little step and to allow us to win the last few races. I am very proud and very happy. The team and Yamaha have worked so hard this weekend, to be honest, it has been rather challenging so I am happy with the result reached. For Federico's side, the team chose a different strategy for the tyres, which we know now was not the right one. This meant at the start his rear tyre was spinning and he didn't have the chance to catch the leaders, otherwise, I think he could have got a great result, but he still did a good job. Up next is Magny-Cours, Lucas' home round, and he knows the track very well and we try to take advantage of this to retake the championship lead!"