GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team’s Lucas Mahias secured his fourth front row start of the season on Saturday at Portimao, round nine of the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship. The championship leader qualified in second in a tight session that saw less than half a second separate the top six riders. His teammate Federico Caricasulo will start Sunday’s race from the front of the third row in seventh, with both riders confident of their ability to fight at the front on Sunday.
Mahias has been struggling to find a good feeling with his Yamaha R6 around the 4.592km Autódromo Internacional do Algarve this weekend but worked extremely hard with his team on Friday night and Saturday morning to make some setup changes for SP2. The 28-year-old French rider clearly made a breakthrough and he managed to improve his best time from practice by over half a second to set a 1:45.576, which was good enough to secure second on the grid. Mahias leads the championship by one point from Kenan Sofuoglu – who will start from pole – and after just 0.35s separated the two in SP2, he is relishing the chance to battle with his rival during Sunday’s race.
Caricasulo had spent the whole of practice using the harder SC1 rear tyre and focusing on race pace. For SP2 he made the switch to the softer option SC0 rear tyre but found that it didn’t give him the improvements he was looking for. Despite this, the 21-year-old Italian still managed to set a 1:46.365 to finish just 0.835s behind the pole sitter and secure seventh on the grid. Starting from the head of the third row, Caricasulo is confident that with his impressive race pace he can battle with the leading riders in Sunday’s race.
There will be four Yamaha R6s on the front three rows on Sunday as Kallio Racing’s Sheridan Morais secured fourth on the grid, despite a crash in SP2, and his teammate Niki Tuuli will join him on the second row in sixth.
The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are back in action on Sunday at 9am local time for Warm Up in Portimao, with the 18-lap race due to start at midday. Check out the results from SP2.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 2nd – 1:45.576
“I am very happy as it was a very good qualifying session! It was a bit of a surprise for me because at the beginning of the weekend I struggled with my confidence on the bike and my lap times haven’t been great. I am happy because I worked a lot with my mechanics to improve the bike, we changed some settings and for qualification, it was a completely different bike. During SP2 was the first time I had followed a rider all weekend and it was easier. I was behind my teammate Federico and it gave me an advantage. I am happy because tomorrow should be a good race and it will be very close. That is great for the championship, and for the fans, but for the riders, it is very difficult!”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 7th – 1:46.365
“I am not very happy because today in qualifying the feeling with my bike was not as good as it has been in practice. I used the SC0 in SP2 but I didn’t have the feeling to push with this tyre. The difference with the SC1, which I had used during practice, wasn’t that great in terms of lap times, which surprised me, but I will push as hard as I can from P7 on the grid tomorrow to fight at the front as always!”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
“I am very happy for Lucas’s side of the garage as they made a huge step today. We have been struggling this weekend due to the bumps and windy conditions, but in the end, the whole team worked really hard today – even if the red flags in FP3 made it hard to get any rhythm going – by the end we found something that made the difference. Federico had the potential to be on the front row as well, but he changed to the SC0 rear tyre for SP2 and the extra grip pushed the front end a bit too much and he lost his feeling with the bike. The important thing is that as a team we are able to always be pushing at the front and it shows how ready we are to fight for the championship. I think it will be a great race tomorrow, there are lots of riders that are fast this weekend so it should be very close. I want to say thanks to the riders, the team and Yamaha because they have worked so hard this weekend to be constantly improving and give us the best chance to fight for the title!”