Mahias Maintains Championship Lead in Assen
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias leaves Round 4 of the 2018 Supersport World Championship at Assen still leading the overall standings after a strong ride to fourth, although he was disappointed not to be able to fight for the race win on Sunday. His teammate Federico Caricasulo was pushing as hard as he could during the race before contact with another rider saw him crash out while battling in the leading group. In the European Supersport Cup, Alfonso Coppola made a strong start but faded towards the end of the race to finish in 20th place.
Mahias struggled to find the perfect setup in Aragon and, unfortunately, he suffered from a similar issue throughout the weekend in Assen. Starting from the middle of the front row, the reigning WorldSSP Champion led in the early stages of the race but was riding on the absolute limit for the entire 18 laps. He fought hard in the leading group and battled all the way to the line with some sensational riding. In a dramatic finish, it looked like he might be on the podium but he ended up missing out in the sprint to the line and finished in fourth, just 0.341s behind the winner. Despite being disappointed on missing out on the podium for the second consecutive race, the 29-year-old French rider leaves the TT Circuit Assen still leading the overall championship with 71 points, although his lead has now been reduced to one point heading into Round 5 at Imola.
Caricasulo also found it hard to get the perfect setup with his GRT Yamaha R6. Despite this, he fought valiantly all weekend and during the race, he had made his way up to fifth from seventh on the grid and was battling with his teammate in the leading group. That is when disaster struck, as there was contact with another rider on lap 13 at Turn 6 and his race ended prematurely. Luckily, despite it being a very fast crash, he walked away battered and bruised but without any serious injury. After his DNF, the 22-year-old Italian is now fifth in the championship standings with 49 points, trailing his teammate at the top by 21 points but confident he can fight back at Imola.
Coppola once again showed great progress throughout the race weekend, as the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner continues to adjust to the WorldSSP championship. Lining up on the grid in 25th place, he enjoyed a number of good battles with other riders before the extra weight of the R6 and the longer duration of the race started to tell. Battling all the way to the line, he finished in 20th place and is now determined to work hard on his strength and stamina before the next round at Imola.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team now head to a private test at Brno later in the week, before it is time to set their sights on Round 4 of the WorldSSP Championship at Imola on the 11th-13th May. Check out the full WorldSSP race results from Assen.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 0.341s
"It has been a really, really difficult weekend for me. I am a little bit sad right now because fourth is not the position I wanted to finish the race. This is the second race in a row I have missed the podium and, for sure, I have the pace to fight for the podium but we just can't get the bike set up perfectly at the moment. In Aragon, we had similar issues and I seem to be losing out to the others on the straight, so now we must try to understand the problem. I pushed as hard as I could in what was a difficult race but, honestly, fourth was the best I could do today, it was impossible to get on the podium as it was like 18 qualification laps for me. I was pushing right on the limit every lap, which made it very difficult. My teammate Caricasulo had the same issue, he was pushing very hard in the race to try and stay in the podium fight and crashed. For me, it is not the end of the world as I am still leading the championship. I didn't make any mistakes and I genuinely think fourth was the best I could do. We will work really hard at the test in Brno to try and understand this issue and in the time before Imola, we will try and find a solution. I would like to thank my team for all their hard work this weekend. We improved in every session and the chassis is now set up perfectly. This is the reason I finished fourth, because of the excellent work from my team, so now I will focus on being able to fight for the win in Imola."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - DNF
"I did not have the best setting for today's race. I was fast in the middle of the race but my front tyre was finished after that. There was lots of contact with other riders during the race. I had two or three collisions and then, when I was in Turn 6, I felt contact with another rider from behind and crashed. I did not have the pace to fight for the podium today. If I had not crashed I would have been at the back of the group, I think, by the end of the race. Luckily, although it was a fast crash I just have a few cuts and bruises. Now I will focus on the Brno test and I look forward to racing in Imola!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team - 20th +1:01.212s
"To finish my first race in WorldSSP is a very big step! In WorldSSP300 you don't do as many laps and the bike is a lot lighter, so here, the heavier R6 over 18 laps became very demanding. Up until lap 8, I felt really good but I struggled a little after that, so now I will go home and train very hard to make another improvement for Imola. Thank you to Yamaha for this opportunity and for the GRT team who I am learning a lot from, mentally and physically. They manage to help me keep calm and focused and this is important. I look forward to racing in Imola. I love the track and my target will be to finish in the points."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"It was a very exciting race with lots of drama. We just missed out on the podium with Lucas but we managed to close the gap to the guys at the front over the course of the weekend. Federico was pushing really hard but when you do not feel 100% with your bike's setting, everything is harder and this was the reason why he had to take so many big risks. Honestly, I am not very satisfied with this race because I know that we have the potential to be fighting for the victory with both riders. We struggled really to find the right setup for our riders over the weekend and while we managed to improve in each session, it wasn't enough to win the race. Now we have the test at Brno to work on both riders setting's and hopefully, we can be back fighting for the race win in Imola. Alfonso finished his first race and he showed really good improvements again over the weekend. Coming from WorldSSP300, he has to get used to the physical demands of riding the R6 in WorldSSP but we are confident he will work as hard as he can to arrive in Imola ready to battle for the top 15."