The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team got Round 9 of the FIM World Supersport Championship off to a flying start, with reigning champion Lucas Mahias ending the day second on combined times and teammate Federico Caricasulo just two places further back in fourth. European Supersport Cup rider, Alfonso Coppola, was disappointed to finish in 25th position today, after missing much of the second free practice session.
Both Caricasulo and Mahias made a lightning start in the opening free practice session this morning, which they finished one-two on the timesheet. With track temperature rising significantly for the second 50-minute session this afternoon, both GRT Yamaha riders focused on refining the set up of their Yamaha YZF-R6 machines in similar conditions to those they can expect to face in the race on Sunday.
Mahias and Caricasulo are confident that they have the pace in race trim to fight at the front on Sunday, so tomorrow’s third and final free practice session will be dedicated to preparing for qualifying in the afternoon.
It was a frustrating opening day in Portimão for Coppola. After a solid start in the opening free practice session, which he finished in 23rd position, the Italian youngster slipped down the timesheet to 25th having missed most of Free Practice 2 after encountering a technical problem with the bike. Coppola remains confident, however, that he can recover the lost time during the final free practice and be ready for the all-important qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – P2 – 1:45.158
“I’m really happy with today. I worked a lot with my crew to build on the improvements to the bike we made during the test here, with positive results. Our race simulation today was good, but we also saw it becomes a little more difficult when the wind picks up around the circuit. But, overall, my feeling with the bike is good and I’m looking forward to making further improvements tomorrow ahead of qualifying.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – P4 – 1:45.325
“Today I wasn’t pushing for a fast lap, but instead focused on my set up and pace for Sunday’s race. I found a very good rhythm and my lap time was fast without having me having to push too much. I’m really happy with today because, already, I think we have the pace in race trim to allow me to fight for the win on Sunday. Now we must work towards Superpole tomorrow, to secure the best grid position possible for the race.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – P25 – 1:48.392
“The first free practice session this morning was quite good and I was able to improve the set up of the bike. We made another step with the set up ahead of the second session, but then I could only complete three fast laps because we had a technical problem with the problem with the bike. This means we will start a little bit behind tomorrow in the final free practice session, but I need to keep calm, work with my crew to find a good setting on the bike and then push for a good qualifying position in Superpole.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – Team Manager
“All three riders started strongly this morning in the first free practice session, following the two-day test we had at this circuit two weeks ago. Our target with Federico today was to focus on his race set up and race pace rather than pushing for one fast lap and I’m very satisfied because he has clearly shown his potential today. For Lucas it was the same. He made a very good and consistent pace throughout the second free practice session and was set to improve his lap time but got held up by slower riders on his second flying lap. I am very pleased with today; both riders and the team did a great job. For Alfonso it was more difficult to improve as Portimão is a tricky track to master. Unfortunately he also lost some time this afternoon, as we had a technical problem with the bike, but I’m confident that we’ll see some improvement tomorrow and that he’ll enjoy a better qualifying. Thanks to the team for such an incredible job today and thanks also to Yamaha for their continued support.”