Cortese Crowned Champion as GRT Secure Team Title
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team rider Lucas Mahias continued his domination in Qatar today, taking an emphatic win in difficult conditions and securing second place in the final championship standings to sign off from his 2018 campaign. Federico Caricasulo joined his teammate on the podium, after a remarkable recovery from what was a difficult weekend saw him claim a superb third place at the chequered flag.
Torrential rain at the Losail International Circuit ahead of warm-up forced a delay to today's race program, with the WorldSSP riders taking to the track for a 15-minute warm-up session more than 90 minutes later than scheduled. Following the session, the riders raised concerns about the track conditions, which resulted in a delay to the race start as circuit staff worked to disperse the water running across the track at turns four, seven and 15.
The race, shortened from 15 to 12 laps, eventually got underway at 16.45 and it was the two championship contenders, Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel, who made the early running at the front, with Mahias sat in behind the dueling duo.
Not wanting to influence the outcome of the championship, Mahias had to wait until the closing stages of the race before an opportunity presented itself to pass both riders cleanly. The GRT Yamaha rider took the lead with two laps to go and had pulled out a gap by the time he took the chequered flag to secure his third race win of the season.
With Cluzel crashing out on the final lap, the 25 points for the win were enough to promote Mahias to second place in the final championship standings behind fellow Yamaha rider, and newly crowned 2018 Supersport World Champion, Cortese.
Caricasulo struggled in practice and qualifying ahead of today's race, but the Italian bounced back in fine style this evening. After a less than perfect start from the third row of the grid, the GRT Yamaha rider got his head down and started his charge to the front.
Scything his way through the field, Caricasulo was closing fast on the leading trio when Cluzel crashed out of the race on the final lap, promoting the Italian to third place, which he held to the chequered flag to claim his sixth podium finish of the season.
The success enjoyed by Mahias and Caricasulo this season was more than enough to secure GRT Yamaha the coveted team's championship title for the second year in succession, with an advantage of 59 points over their closest rival.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st
"What a crazy weekend for me; I won two races in one weekend, which I think is a first for the World Supersport Championship! Also I arrived here fifth in the championship but I head home having finished second. Pole position, a new circuit record and the race win; pretty much a perfect way to end the season, so I'm really happy. Congratulations to Sandro on winning the World Championship and commiserations to Jules, who had no option but to push for the win today if he was to claim the title. Thanks to Yamaha and to my team for helping me realise my dream during the past two years. Now it's back home to start training over the winter, ready for next season."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 3rd +3.173
"It was a difficult weekend because from the first session I was missing around one second to the frontrunners. In the race I felt much better in sector three where I'd been losing all my time previously and I was much faster as a result. My start wasn't great and I was 11th in the first corner, but then I managed to push to get back towards the front. The three guys ahead of me towards the end had a little bit too much of a gap for me to catch them, but I'm happy to have finished the last race of the season on the podium, after what started as a very difficult weekend for me. Congratulations to Sandro on the championship and thanks to my team for their hard work and dedication this season."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"We made some promises ahead of this weekend. We said we'd win the race, and we did that. We said we'd wrap up the team's championship and we did that too. Lucas did an incredible job this weekend and had a fantastic race this evening. He was faster than the two guys fighting for the championship from the start, but waited until he could pass cleanly before making his move for the lead, so as not to affect the outcome. That's true sportsmanship. Federico made an incredible recovery after difficult practice and qualifying sessions. We know he always finds a little bit more in the race and he certainly did that today, fighting his way through from 11th position in the first corner to finish on the podium in third. Thank you to everyone in the team, as they have made an incredible job for the second year in succession and shown once again with the team's championship title that we are the strongest in the WorldSSP paddock. Thank you also to Yamaha for their support and congratulations to Sandro on the championship title. Commiserations to Jules, who animated the race incredibly today, but was unfortunate to crash on the final lap. We wish him a speedy recovery. Now we look forward to the challenges the future may bring."