Mahias retakes Championship Lead as Caricasulo Secures Podium at Magny-Cours
It was an incredibly dramatic race for the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team on Sunday in damp conditions at Magny-Cours, round ten of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship. Federico Caricasulo stormed to his third podium of the season after battling for the victory the entire race, crossing the line in second just 0.875s behind the winner. His teammate Lucas Mahias mounted a superb comeback after contact with another rider saw him down in 19th at the end of the first lap, with the local hero fighting back superbly to finish in an incredible fourth place and lead the championship standings by nine points.
Caricasulo qualified in fourth but began Sunday's race from third after an injury to Kenan Sofuoglu, with the Italian making up an all-Yamaha front row with Kallio Racing's Niki Tuuli and Sheridan Morais. After a blistering start, the Italian rider found himself in a superb three-way battle for the win with Tuuli and Morais, with the lead changing hands numerous times. As the race progressed this turned into an incredible two-horse race between Caricasulo and Tuuli, with the riders swapping places at almost every corner as they fought each other on their Yamaha R6s. Neither rider could break away from the other until a small mistake by Caricasulo on lap 12 allowed Tuuli to open up a one-second gap at the front. The 21-year-old responded superbly and closed the gap once more, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process - a 1:42.185 - but, unfortunately, by doing so he used up what was left of his tyres and he could not maintain that pace during the last couple of laps, finishing the race in second, just 0.875s behind Tuuli after an excellent duel and securing his third podium of the season. It was Tuuli's maiden WorldSSP victory as Yamaha recorded a 1-2 in the race and meant there were two R6s on the podium for the fourth time this season. Caricasulo collected 20 points for his efforts and is now sixth in the championship standings with 80 points.
Mahias arrived in Magny-Cours second in the championship, just four points behind Kenan Sofuoglu. Unfortunately, the local hero had a technical issue in SP2 on Saturday that meant he could only qualify in 12th and he was still feeling sore after his crash in a wet FP3. Sadly, his title rival Kenan Sofuoglu crashed during SP2 and was forced to withdraw from the weekend due to injury. This meant Mahias started from 11th on the grid. When the lights went out the 28-year-old enjoyed a good start but on the first lap but made contact with another rider, which forced Mahias to run wide and drop down to 19th place by the time they crossed the line for the first time. Unbelievably, this just seemed to spur the French rider on at his home round and he showed blistering pace to storm through the field, passing rider after rider in an incredible display of riding, bringing his Yamaha R6 home in fourth to a rapturous reception from the French fans. The 13 points Mahias secured means he now has a nine-point lead in the championship standings over Sofuoglu, with the Turkish rider recovering from surgery on his injured pelvis. The GRT Yamaha team would like to wish Kenan a speedy recovery and we hope to see him back on track as soon as possible.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are back in action at Jerez for round 11 of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship on the 20th-22nd of October, where Mahias will have a chance of clinching the title if results go his way. Check out the full race results from Sunday in Magny-Cours.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd +0.875s
"I am happy! I pushed very hard for the whole of the race, probably a bit too much during the second half of the race, because I made a mistake while battling for the lead with Niki Tuuli and then I did not have the tyres left to re-catch him. It is always better to win but I am happy because I have found a good feeling with my R6 and with my team and I am very happy with this. Today, I could fight for the victory and I believe that we can do the same in the last two races because I now have everything I need. We made a small change in my team and with the way we work, so I am more confident. I think the next two races will be easier because of this and I cannot wait for Jerez!"
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team - 4th +9.433s
"It was an incredible race! For sure, I would have preferred to have finished on the podium at my home round in front of the French fans, but today was the same as a victory because at the beginning of the race, I didn't have much confidence and I was in quite a bit of pain after my crash in FP3. I wasn't even sure if it was possible to finish the race. At the start, I wanted to settle into a good rhythm but after the contact with another rider, I was down in 19th position. So, I thought, "Okay, stay calm," and I pushed and pushed to close the gap to the guys at the front. I overtook a lot of riders and to finish in fourth with everything that happened is incredible. Honestly, I am very sorry for what has happened to Kenan. I would have much preferred to have been able to battle with him today and it is real shame for the championship and the fans. In my eyes, he is a legend in WorldSSP but this is racing and I am really, really sorry for him and I wish him a speedy recovery. The championship is still completely open and I think it could go all the way down to Qatar!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"It has been an incredible weekend, especially because it wasn't easy! We are so happy with Federico. His podium was fantastic. To finish in second and spend the whole race battling at the front, showing great pace, was very important. He has been very consistent and did a fantastic job. I want to say thank you to his team because they found a brilliant setting for his bike and the result is down to the whole team. Lucas was simply sensational. Starting from 11th after the issue in SP2 he had an incredible race. He made a good start but then another rider made contact with him which, in my eyes was not a fair move and I was unhappy about it but Lucas reacted superbly to come back from 19th to fourth and if there hadn't had been the contact at the beginning, he had the pace to fight for the win. He now has a nine-point lead in the championship and we will try everything to secure the title for Lucas. I would like to pass on my best wishes to Kenan and I hope he gets well soon because he has taken WorldSSP to another level over the last few years, so I wish him a speedy recovery. I want to say thanks to both riders, the whole team and of course Yamaha, who always give us the perfect package to go out and fight for the win."