Caricasulo on the Podium as Mahias takes Championship Lead in Aragon
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team enjoyed a strong Sunday in Aragon at Round 3 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship. Federico Caricasulo made it two podiums in row by charging to a hard-fought second-place finish after a superb ride from the 22-year-old Italian. Reigning WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, missed out on the podium for the first time in 4 races as he could not quite find the perfect setup for his R6 due to the changeable conditions experienced over the weekend. Despite this, he fought his way to a battling fourth-place finish to retake the overall Championship lead. It was a disappointing end to a truly promising debut in the European Supersport Cup for Alfonso Coppola. After impressing throughout the weekend, he crashed out on the opening lap of the race at the first corner through no fault of his own.
Caricasulo backed up his fourth-placed finish in Phillip Island and podium in Buriram with another stunning display of riding at Motorland Aragon on Sunday. Showing good pace all weekend, he lined up for Sunday's race third on the grid and was involved in the battle for victory all through the race. Giving it his all in the podium battle, he led the race at the start and enjoyed an excellent battle with fellow Yamaha - and eventual race winner - Sandro Cortese for pretty much the entire race. As his grip levels faded towards the end of the race, he managed to hold off another Yamaha rider - the hard-charging Jules Cluzel - in the final few laps to bring his GRT Yamaha R6 home in second, just 1.426s behind Cortese, and make it three out three podiums in 2018. He now finds himself fourth in the championship standings with 49 points, just eight behind his teammate at the top.
The reigning WorldSSP Champion Mahias arrived in Aragon level on points with Randy Krummenacher in the championship standings after both Yamaha riders had recorded a victory and a second-place finish in the opening two races, but he left on Sunday night having retaken the outright lead in the overall standings. Despite qualifying in second for Sunday's race, the 29-year-old Frenchman has not been able to find the perfect setup with his R6 after being forced to miss most of FP1 on Friday due to the rain and had been playing catch up ever since. When the lights went out for Sunday's race, Mahias had a good start but could not match the pace of the leading three riders and dropped down to fifth. Realising a victory was not on the cards, he instead decided to cleverly play the long game and bring home as many championship points as possible. He fought his way back to fourth and showed incredible consistency - not lapping outside of the 1:55s until his grip levels faded in the final two laps - ensuring he crossed the line in fourth place to collect a vital 13 points. He now sits on top of the championship standings with 58 points and has a four-point lead over Cortese in second.
Coppola had impressed all weekend on his WorldSSP debut as he took part in the first round of the European Supersport Cup. The 20-year-Italian managed to improve from a 1:58.009 on Friday to set a 1:56.295 in SP2, meaning he would start Sunday's race from 20th on the grid. When the lights went out he was keen to put in a good display but crashed out at the first corner due to an issue beyond his control. He bravely rejoined the race but was forced to retire due to the damage to his bike on lap nine. Understandably disappointed, the 2017 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner is determined to bounce back at the next round in Assen.
Continuing Yamaha's dominance of the class in 2018, they completed another lockout of the podium and the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team (107 points) now have a 42-point lead in the Team standings, with all three riders back in action at Round 4 of the WorldSSP Championship in Assen on the 20th-22nd of April. Check out the full race results.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 2nd + 1.426s
"I am happy because my team did an amazing job to give me a bike with the perfect setup! It was difficult during the race because we seemed to be a bit slower on the straights than the others but it is okay, as I know the team will work really hard to fix this before Assen. I like the Assen track a lot, it has lots of fast corners and this usually makes for very good racing. It is great to have been on the podium in every race so far this season, now I want to add to that with a victory at Assen!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th +5.533s
"Today was a very difficult race for me but I made sure to bring home the best result I could, with the Championship in mind, and I am back in the overall lead, which is very good. The race was very hard and I am a little bit angry because I could not fight with the front three riders. I was sliding a lot and I didn't get find the right setting for my R6 all weekend after losing Free Practice 1 to the rain, which made it harder for me. Now I am turning my focus to the next race in Assen and we will work hard to ensure we can find a good setup so I can win the race. Assen is a high-speed track and normally I am very fast at this kind of circuit because I like them a lot. I seem to be losing out a little under acceleration but in Assen, this should not be an issue as it is made up of lots of fast corners. I got the best result I good today. I will take the positives and I am looking forward to getting back on track at Assen already!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - DNF
"The race was not so good for me because I crashed out, but I am happy with my efforts over the course of the weekend considering this was my debut in WorldSSP. It is such an honour to be riding with the GRT Yamaha team, it is like a family and they worked so hard this weekend so I want thanks to my mechanic for his work and everyone in the team, plus of course Yamaha for this amazing opportunity. I am not down about the result, as I can take the positives from this weekend and focus on the next round at Assen. We have lots of work to do before then and we have already started to go over the data. I hope to start the weekend in a similar way in Assen, but finish it with a better result!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"We are very happy! Lucas may not have had the best race, by his standards, as he missed the podium but he has retaken the championship lead. We have been struggling since Friday to find the right setup on his R6 for him but the weather and track conditions have been different in almost every session this weekend which has made it very tough. It may not have been his best result but it was crucial for the championship as he now has the outright lead in the standings. Federico had an incredible race. He was very consistent and clever. He did a fantastic job and has worked hard on his riding style and has shown excellent maturity this season. We feel he is now ready to fight for the championship as well! Alfonso, unfortunately, had an issue that caused him to crash out at the first corner through no fault of his own. It was a shame as he has impressed everyone this weekend with his attitude and pace and he is a great addition to the talented riders in the Yamaha family. I would like to say a massive thank you to all the team as they did an incredible job and worked hard all weekend. I would also like to thank Yamaha as they always give us a package that allows us to fight at the front and that is how Championships are won!"