2018 WorldSSP Thailand - Chang International Circuit
Championship Leader Mahias Marches onto Buriram
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias is ready to continue his title defence at Round 2 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand, this weekend. The reigning WorldSSP Champion got his season off to the best possible start at the opening round of the season in Australia, topping nearly every session and taking a dominant victory from pole position to ensure he left Phillip Island with the maximum 25 points on offer. His teammate Federico Caricasulo also impressed down under, fighting at the front all weekend before crossing the line in fourth during Sunday's race - missing out on the podium by just 0.039s - and is relishing his return to Buriram, the scene of his debut WorldSSP victory in 2017.
Mahias left the opening round of the season at Phillip Island having ticked all the possible boxes in the mission to begin his title defence in the best possible way, despite a drama-filled Sunday which saw the original race red flagged and a restarted nine-lap sprint decide the points. The 28-year-old French rider dominated Friday's practice, before securing his second career - and second consecutive - WorldSSP pole position on Saturday (to add to his maiden pole achieved at the last round of 2017 in Qatar). Incredibly, despite the disruption of the red flag, he led every lap across the line in both of Sunday's races before going on to take victory by an impressive 1.274s. Mahias loves racing in front of the passionate fans in Thailand and arrives in Buriram ready for the hot and humid conditions, full of confidence, despite the fact he was forced to retire from last year's race at the circuit with a technical issue. He is aiming to continue the incredible form that has seen him win the last two WorldSSP races from pole position as he looks to increase his five-point lead in the championship standings.
His teammate Caricasulo got his 2018 WorldSSP campaign off to an encouraging start in Australia, despite a scary tyre failure during the last day of the Phillip Island test that destroyed his bike. He was battling at the front throughout practice, qualifying, and both of the races, before finishing the nine-lap sprint in a strong fourth position, just 1.556s behind his victorious teammate and completing a Yamaha 1-2-3-4. The 21-year-old Italian loves the Chang International Circuit and took a sensational victory at the track last year in just his second race for the GRT Yamaha team, winning by 0.7s as Yamaha locked out the podium. He heads into the second round of the season fourth in the overall standings with 13 points, confident that he can repeat this feat in 2018 with an extra year's worth of experience and development on his Yamaha R6 under his belt.
The 4.554km Chang international Circuit is located in the Buriram Province in the East of Thailand, about 400km from Bangkok, and is a mix of fast flowing segments, combined with slower technical sections that reward smooth riding. The area is known for its incredibly passionate fans and this is the fourth consecutive year the track will host a WorldSBK round after opening in 2014 and making its debut on the calendar in 2015.
The GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Official WorldSSP Team get the action in Thailand underway on Friday at 10:40 am local time (GMT +7) for Free Practice 1, with Saturday's qualifying due to start at 2.30 pm and Sunday's race scheduled for 2:30 pm.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 25 points
"I am ready for Thailand! It can always be quite a tricky weekend in Buriram, as the heat and humidity can play such a major part. Since the opening round in Australia, I have been deliberately working on my fitness and ability to ride in hot conditions. This circuit is not favourite on the calendar - especially after last year's result - but, for sure, it is my favourite country to go racing in. The fans are just so passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly…I love it and cannot wait to get back on my R6!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 13 points
"After an encouraging opening round in Australia, I cannot wait to get back to racing! I feel fit and ready to get back on track and fight for victory. My win here last season was my first in WorldSSP and it was a very special moment. I have been training extremely hard to make sure I am prepared in the best way possible for the hot and humid conditions and I feel in great shape! There is always a great atmosphere there and I am looking forward to trying to fight for the win again in front of the awesome fans in Thailand."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"We had a great start in Australia which confirmed our levels of performance from the end of last season. Lucas is feeling very confident and feels he can consistently fight at the front. He looks so comfortable and relaxed with the team, it looks like he can make his R6 do exactly what he wants, which is the key to him being able to go fast. He was very unlucky in Thailand last year and was forced to retire through no fault of his own, so this year he is excited and looking forward to going out and fighting for victory. Federico is also looking very strong and showed good pace in Phillip Island, despite being forced to play catch up after the tyre failure during the test that meant we had to completely rebuild his bike before the race weekend. He has been training really hard and is determined to battle for the victory during the race this weekend, just like his sensational victory here last year. The whole team is ready and, once again, Yamaha has given us amazing support to allow us to arrive in Thailand with the best possible package for our riders, so we are looking forward to going out and showing our full potential!"