The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team enjoyed a productive Friday at Portimao for round nine of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship. The team focused on race pace with championship leader Lucas Mahias starting strongly to end the day in fourth overall, while his teammate Federico Caricasulo also impressed to finish in sixth on the combined timesheets, with both riders making through to SP2 on Saturday.
Mahias leads the championship by one point from Kenan Sofuoglu and he was determined to hit the ground running at the track after the team’s recent test in Portimao. Unfortunately, the conditions on Friday were completely different to the test, with strong winds affecting the track, and it was hard to find a good setup. Undeterred, the 28-year-old French rider worked hard in the morning to set a 1:46.937 to end the session in fourth. In the afternoon, Mahias focused on running a race simulation but still managed to improve his time by almost a second to record a 1:46.087, which was good enough for fourth on the combined timesheets and a spot in SP2.
His teammate Caricasulo spent the whole day working on his feeling with the Yamaha YZF-R6 on the harder SC1 compound tyre, not even trying to set a flying lap. This made his performance even more impressive in the morning as a 1:46.934 lap saw him end FP1 in third. He continued this work ethos in the afternoon, running a race simulation and despite not attempting a hot lap the 21-year-old Italian improved to a 1:46.560 to finish the day in sixth overall.
It was another good performance from Kallio Racing’s Sheridan Morais as the South African rider topped the combined timesheets for most of the day on his Yamaha R6, before just being pipped in the dying moments of FP2 and finishing in second overall with a 1:45.829 as he looks to continue the form that saw him take his maiden WorldSSP race win last time out at the Lausitzring. His teammate Nikki Tuuli also impressed as he finished in seventh, with all four Yamahas making it through automatically to SP2.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team return to the track at 9:45 local time on Saturday morning for Free Practice 3, with SP2 scheduled for 12:25pm. Click here for the full results.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 4th – 1:46.087
“It was a strange track today. I rode here in the Endurance World Championship, but now it feels completely different. I finished in fourth, which is not so bad, but I am not happy with the gap to Kenan. We did a race simulation, which went well, but I was 0.5s off the one-lap pace. As always, I would prefer to finish Friday in first position, but tonight I will work a lot with my mechanics and engineers to improve the bike for tomorrow. It is not a critical situation as our race simulation was good, but I am a racer and I am never happy unless I am in first position, so we will see what we can do tomorrow.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 6th – 1:46.560
“I am happy because today I didn’t look at my position on the timing screens at all. I worked just on my rhythm for the race and did not try a time-attack. I only used the SC1 tyre, and not a qualifying tyre, so I am happy for the race. Tomorrow we will try the SC0 and I think I will improve by 0.5s or more. So, I think we can be very competitive this weekend and I am looking forward to tomorrow!”
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
“We had a tricky day today. The track was very slippery and it was very difficult to find a good setup, even though we had a one-day test here. The conditions have changed completely so we had to restart and what we have tried is different. This morning we were trying to find the limit of the track and in the afternoon both riders focused on race pace. We found the right direction to head in tomorrow for qualifying and the race. In the end, the important thing – and the target always for the team – is to get both riders straight through into SP2, which we achieved, and to be as ready as we can for the race.”