GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team’s Federico Caricasulo secured his third podium of the season in his home race at Round 5 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship in Imola. The 22-year-old Italian charged from fourth on the grid and was battling for the race win right until the chequered flag before crossing the line in second and missing out on the victory by just 0.363s. Reigning WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, started from pole and broke away in the early stages of the race before a small crash on lap 5 saw him re-join in 20th place. In a sensational fightback, he carved his way through the field to secure eighth at the line and limit the damage to his 2018 championship aspirations. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola produced his best result of the season to finish in 19th as he continues to impress in his rookie WorldSSP season.
Caricasulo had waited all season to ride in front of the Italian fans at a hot and humid Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari with track temperatures rising to above 40°C for the race. Starting from fourth on the grid, the man from Ravenna had a good start and by lap 4 he was into second place and attempting to break away from the chasing group alongside his teammate Mahias. After Mahias’ crash, he inherited the lead and had opened up a one-second gap to Jules Cluzel in second by lap 6 before a small mistake saw him run wide and drop back to fourth, almost 2 seconds behind Cluzel. Patiently he worked his way back into second as they started the final lap but try as he might, he could not find a way past Cluzel on and he crossed the line in second to record his third podium of the season, securing 20 championship points in the process. After this result, Caricasulo remains fifth in the championship standings but now has 60 points and has closed the gap to Randy Krummenacher at the top to just 12 points.
Mahias had timed it perfectly to secure his third pole position of the season on Saturday and when the lights went out for Sunday’s race, he looked in ominous form, building his pace and taking Cluzel for the lead on lap 3. Showing sensational pace he set the fastest lap of the race on lap 4, a 1:52.529, to open up a gap of 1.4s over the chasing pack. Unfortunately, on the next lap he had a small crash at Turn 18 but luckily his GRT Yamaha R6 escaped unscathed and he was able to re-join the race, albeit in 20th place. Charging his way through the field, the 28-year-old French rider was able to limit the damage to his championship hopes by crossing the line in eighth and while he may have relinquished the lead in the standings to Krummenacher, he is only two points behind in second with 79 points.
For European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola, progression is the key in his rookie WorldSSP season after making the step up from the WorldSSP300 championship. Qualifying 23rd on the grid for Sunday’s race, he did not have the best of starts and crossed the line in 28th at the end of the first lap. Focusing on his building his race pace, he steadily improved and showed his potential by improving to 19th position when he met the chequered flag, less than seven seconds off a points-scoring finish, highlighting the progress he has made in 2018 and he is now determined to pick up his first championship point at Donington Park.
The GRT Official Yamaha WorldSSP Team return to action for Round 6 of the 2018 WorldSSP Championship at Donington Park on the 25th-27th May.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 2nd – 1:53.589 +0.363s
“I am happy for the podium because a podium is always good! I am not that happy for the race, but I am happy for the championship as it is very close again – I am only 12 points behind the leader. My race was good, I pushed very hard to break away at the front with Lucas but we both made a little mistake. In the second part of the race I managed to catch back up with the leading group and was in P2, but when I tried to overtake Jules Cluzel, it was impossible because he had better speed than me out of the corners and I couldn’t do anything without taking too many risks. I am very excited for Donington as I feel that I and my team are very strong now, we just need to work on our acceleration when exiting a corner. My team did an incredible job all weekend, without making a single mistake and the championship is now a lot closer and more interesting!”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 8th +16.200s
“The result was not perfect but I will take the positives from today. I started on pole, pushed hard at the front, opened up a big gap and set the fastest lap of the race. Sure, I crashed, but this can happen in a race. When you are pushing on the limit it is very easy to do but again, taking the positives I was able to get back and push hard and fight back to finish in eighth. This was good for the championship and despite this result, I am still second in the standings. It is not the time for negatives, we must focus on the fact I was strong and fast, I felt good on the bike and I am already focusing on the next race at Donington.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team – 19th +46.884s
“This weekend has been good! We made a big step and I feel confident that I can go to Donington and hit the ground running to be fast from the first practice session, which is very important in WorldSSP. I am happy with the progress we have made this weekend as we closed the gap to the guys at the front and it was my first home race in WorldSSP. We also managed to get within five seconds of the points and, if I hadn’t made a bad start, I would have been a lot closer. I will work on trying to improve my starts before the next round to help close the gap to the points and I am already focused on trying to be as fast as I can at Donington.”
GRT Yamaha Offical WorldSSP Team Manager
“Our home round can always be difficult as there are more fans and the expectations are higher. Lucas pushed a lot after a great start and his race pace was very good. His aim was to open up a good gap and then try and manage the race until the end but he pushed a little bit too much and had a small crash. His recovery was incredible and he limited the damage to the championship standings. Federico and the whole of his team did an amazing job. It is always hard for a rider to perform at his home round, you have lots more supporters and a lot of pressure on you, especially in Italy. He managed to stay focused and he showed just how good a rider he is. Alfonso did not have a great start in the race, but he had a good pace and he will continue to work with the team to try and improve again at Donington so he can fight for the points. Thank you for the whole team as it has been a tricky weekend but they have handled everything thrown at them perfectly. Thank you to Yamaha for the support and for giving us a package that allows us to always be fighting at the front.”