The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team got off to an almost perfect start on Friday at Magny-Cours, round ten of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship. Title contender Lucas Mahias dominated proceedings at his home round, topping both sessions and ending the day 0.599s clear of the rest of the field, whilst his teammate Federico Caricasulo also showed incredible pace to finish in third on the overall timesheets.
Mahias’ seventh podium of the season last time out in Portimao saw him arrive in France trailing championship leader Kenan Sofuoglu by just four points with two races remaining and the French rider knows he needs a good performance at his home race to give him the best chance of becoming the 2017 WorldSSP champion. Therefore, Friday took on an even greater emphasis for the 28-year-old from Mont-de-Marsan in South West France and he did not disappoint the passionate French supporters. In FP1 he showed sensational pace right from the word go on his Yamaha R6 and ended up setting a 1:41.502, less than a second off the outright lap record at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, and 0.599s quicker than everybody else. In FP2 he tried a different setting but it was not an improvement, so his team returned to the setup from the morning. Mahias immediately found his groove again, setting a 1:41.688 to top an afternoon session that was broken up by two red flags. The disruptions meant none of the top five improved their times from FP1, with Mahias the only rider to break the 1’42 barrier during the day and finishing 0.599s ahead of his championship rival Kenan Sofuoglu in second place.
His teammate Federico Caricasulo also enjoyed a superb Friday. The 21-year-old Italian settled into a rhythm straight away in FP1 and was always near the top of the timesheets throughout the session. On his final run, he set a 1:42.141, which would be good enough to secure third on the timesheets. Early on in FP2 he hit a patch of oil left by another rider and crashed at Turn 5, luckily, he was unhurt and able to remount immediately, with the red flag being shown for the incident. When the session resumed, he went back out and tried some different settings before the second red flag appeared for oil on the track. Realising his place in SP2 on Saturday was secure, Caricasulo spent the remainder of the session focusing on improving on his already impressive race pace. His time from FP1 was good enough for third on the combined timesheets and saw him 0.639s off the pace of his teammate.
To round off a great day for Yamaha, Kallio Racing’s Niki Tuuli and Sheridan Morais finished in fifth and sixth respectively, meaning there were four Yamaha R6s in the top six. Check out the combined results from Friday.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team return to action on Saturday morning at 9:20 am local time for FP3, with qualifying starting at 2 pm and Sunday’s race at 11:30 am.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 1st – 1:41.502
“I am very happy as it was a very good day for me! It was a big surprise because, at the beginning of the day, we didn’t really try and push. It is only the first day but I am really confident with my R6. It is my home track, which obviously helps and I have a lot of experience here as well. We worked a lot to try and improve the bike in-between the sessions but we found that at the start of FP2 it wasn’t an improvement, so we changed a few settings, went back out at the end of the session and my feeling was very, very good. Even with the oil on the track after the second red flag, I managed to improve my time in the session, which is good for tomorrow. I hope for good weather tomorrow, but if it rains, I am very confident in the wet too!”
GRT Yamaha WorldSSP300 Team – 3rd – 1:42.141
“It was not a bad day! We had a good FP1, but FP2 was kind of strange. I crashed after just a few laps on some oil. After that, I tried a few new settings on the bike but there was another red flag, so I realised that I would not lose my position in the top ten. I then spent the rest of the session trying to improve the feeling with my R6, without worrying about the lap times. With that in mind, I am very happy to have finished in third and I am looking forward to tomorrow!”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
“We had a very good day! Lucas finishing in first at his home track was great and Federico was also really quick and we are very happy he ended the day in third. This morning we started well, we always try and finish FP1 in the top five and then focus on trying out different settings in the afternoon to work on the rider’s race pace. We tried a different setting with Lucas in FP2 but it didn’t improve his feeling so we went back to the settings from the morning. It has been a fantastic day and we are definitely heading in the right direction. I would like to say thank you to the riders and the team for their efforts today, plus, of course, Yamaha for providing us with such a good package. The weather doesn’t look great tomorrow but we will try to find a way to ensure that we are quick no matter what the conditions.”