GRT Yamaha Hunting for Victory in Assen
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are looking to return to winning ways in Assen at Round 4 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship this weekend, just one week after Lucas Mahias took the outright lead in the standings at Motorland Aragon. The reigning WorldSSP Champion crossed the line in fourth-place at the last round, missing out on the podium for the first time this season, and is looking to come out fighting at the TT Circuit Assen. His teammate Federico Caricasulo has had a great start to 2018, recording two podiums in the last two races. He currently sits fourth in the Championship standings, just nine points behind his teammate, and after fighting for the victory in Aragon before securing second, the young Italian is hoping to be battling at the front once more in Assen. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola is looking to bounce back from an unlucky DNF in during the race in Aragon and build on the potential he displayed on his debut.
Reigning WorldSSP Champion Mahias leads the 2018 standings with 58 points from the first three races, 13 more than he had at the same point last season when he went on to lift the title, showcasing how well he is gelling with his team in his second year with them. Victory at the opening round in Phillip Island was followed up by second in Buriram, where he just missed out on the race win by 0.048s. He followed these performances up with a strong ride in Aragon to fourth to take the outright championship lead after three rounds, despite not being able to find the perfect setup with his R6 during the weekend due to the changeable weather conditions affecting his track time during practice.
The forecast for Assen looks much better, so the 29-year-old French rider is hoping to rediscover his usual feeling with his Yamaha during practice around a track that he enjoys racing at and that should suit the characteristics of the R6. The man from Mont-de-Marsan came out on top in an incredible battle for second in the 2017 WorldSSP race at Assen by just 0.005s in a dramatic photo finish. Despite only having a few days turnaround since Aragon, Mahias has been working hard with his GRT Yamaha team to ensure that he can hit the ground running on Friday in Assen to give him the best chance of fighting for victory on Sunday.
His teammate Caricasulo has enjoyed a sensational start to the 2018 WorldSSP season. Following a fourth-place finish at Phillip Island, the 22-year-old rode to third in Buriram and then was battling for the victory in Aragon before securing a superb second-place finish. Fourth in the Championship standings with 49 points after three races, the talented young rider has added consistency to his already impressive pace in 2018, demonstrated by the fact that at this stage last year he had only accumulated 25 points. Now just nine points behind his teammate at the top of the standings, Caricasulo is looking to continue this upward trend and go one better in Assen by taking victory and firmly establishing himself as a genuine title contender. In last season's race he was also involved in the battle for the podium before crossing the line in sixth, but with the pace he has shown in 2018, just like his teammate, he heads to Assen hunting for victory.
Alfonso Coppola made his European Supersport Cup debut in Aragon, impressing in practice and qualifying as the 20-year-old Italian demonstrated the potential that saw him crowned the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner last season and finish as runner-up in the overall WorldSSP300 Championship. He, unfortunately, crashed through no fault on his own during the race and, after bravely remounting his Yamaha R6 and trying to finish the race, he was forced to retire. Coppola is now looking to build on the promise he showed in Aragon and transform it into a point-scoring ride come Sunday in Assen.
The Assen TT Circuit is located to the northeast of The Netherlands - approximately 170km from Amsterdam - and remains a firm favourite amongst the WorldSBK Championship's riders and fans alike. Its high-octane nature mixes 18 corners with a longest straight of just 300m, usually providing breathtaking and thrilling racing around its 4.542km clockwise layout, with the final chicane the scene of many memorable last-lap battles. The legendary racing venue - known as 'The Cathedral' of motorcycle racing - first hosted a race back in 1925 and has been a permanent fixture on the WorldSBK calendar since 1992.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team begin at the TT Circuit Assen with Free Practice 1 on Friday morning at 10:40 am (CEST) local time. Qualifying is from 2:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday's race is at 11:30 am.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 58 points
"I like the Assen track because it has a high-speed layout that suits my style. I am very determined to get back to fighting for the race win after not being able to find my normally good feeling with my R6 in Aragon. I have worked hard with the team to try and understand the problem, so I want to thank them for all of their hard work and I hope to come back to the podium in Assen because in Aragon it was a difficult race for me. Last year I finished in second at Assen and normally I am fast around the circuit, so I will try to make sure I learn from Aragon and push for the best result possible."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 4th - 49 points
"I have had a good start to the season but, as always, I want to keep improving. My feeling with my R6 and GRT Yamaha team is great at the moment. We have kept on working hard to make sure we are always trying to improve in every session, and at every round. I really enjoy riding at Assen and after the results I have achieved so far this year, my aim is to fight for the victory on Sunday!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team
"I'm glad there have only been a few days between the races because it gives me a chance to redeem myself and bounce back quickly from my DNF in Aragon. I really like the Assen track as it is fast, flowing, and smooth, which really suits my riding style. I improved in every session on Friday and Saturday at Aragon and I want to continue this progress. I am always learning from the team and I cannot wait to get back on track. Since Aragon, I have been training hard and I am really looking forward to getting to ride the Yamaha R6 around the Assen circuit!"
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
"Assen is a very important weekend coming as it does so soon after the last round, with it crucial to leave Assen with the best results possible. At Aragon, we had a strong weekend and left with Lucas leading the championship, but we feel there is a lot more to come. Federico had another great weekend at the last round and rode superbly in the race to secure his second podium in a row. We want to continue this impressive form at Assen, where we feel he can fight for the victory alongside his teammate. Unfortunately, we couldn't quite find the right set up for Lucas in Aragon after we lost most of FP1 due to rain and we have been working a lot since the race to understand what happened and give him back the confidence he normally enjoys with his R6. It is great to have both riders fighting for the victory and also involved in the battle for the championship and it shows how much effort the whole team has put in. Alfonso was really unlucky in Aragon. He showed good potential in practice and qualifying and improved his time a lot, but then was unlucky to crash out of the race through no fault of his own. Our aim is to now build on the positives from Aragon and give him the bike he needs to showcase his full potential."