GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team rider Lucas Mahias thrilled the French crowd with a heroic ride to third place in Magny-Cours, to claim his third podium finish of the 2018 FIM World Supersport season. Federico Caricasulo was part of a four-way battle at the front of the race until his podium hopes were dashed with a crash on the final lap. The Italian remounted to finish 13th and in the points. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola rode a solid race to 25th position, having started from pit lane.
Mahias had to ride through the pain barrier to secure his podium finish today. The reigning World Champion slipped on a wet floor in his hotel room yesterday evening and sustained an injury to his left ankle, which he exacerbated in a crash during morning warm up. The joint was swollen and painful following the crash, but the swelling had subsided sufficiently to allow Mahias to race this afternoon.
It was Jules Cluzel who led the charge on the opening lap, shadowed closely by Mahias, Caricasulo and current championship leader, Sandro Cortese. By mid-race distance the leading quartet had pulled out a gap on the rest of the field and looked set to battle it out between them on the final lap.
The GRT Yamaha pairing of Caricasulo and Mahias had closed right onto the back of Cortese and Cluzel as they hit the braking area for turn 13 on the final lap. Caricasulo, pushing hard to find a way past the championship leader, ran slightly wide on entry and then lost the front and crashed as he tried to defend against Mahias, who’d taken advantage of the gap to dive up the inside of his teammate.
Mahias went on to claim third and the final step on the podium in his home race. Caricasulo managed to remount to finish in 13th place and pick up three vital championship points. The Italian drops to fourth place in the championship standings as a result, 37 points behind series leader Cortese with just two races remaining.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 3rd +1.903
“It’s fantastic to finish on the podium here at Magny-Cours in front of my home crowd. It actually feels like a victory because of the bad luck of the injury and the fact that it’s been such a long time since I last stood on the podium! The injury meant that when I started the race I didn’t know if it was even possible to ride more than two laps because of the pain in my ankle after the crash this morning. In the end I was able to fight at the front and finish on the podium, so I’m happy. In the race I didn’t push too much until right at the end because of the pain in my foot. With three laps to go I could see the guys in front of me were starting to struggle for grip so that’s when I started to push. I passed Federico, who crashed unfortunately, and finished on the podium, which is good for me and good for my team.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team – 13th +31.992
“It was a hard race today. The pace was fast on every lap from the very start, but I had a very good rhythm and I was able to stay with the leading group for the whole race. On the last lap I was pushing a lot to close on Cortese, and at the same time defending my position from Lucas, but then I ran too hot into turn 13, ran wide in the corner and the front closed on me. My team did a great job this weekend, but I think we need to find some small improvements for the next two races, as we were losing out in some places to the other two Yamaha riders today.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Junior Team – 25th +1:31.517
“A difficult weekend for me overall and the race was also a hard one today, because I had to start from pit lane once again. I pushed from the very start to try and recover places, but then I ran on into the gravel five laps into the race and lost some time. From that point on it was a case of concentrating on gaining as much experience as possible over the remaining laps, working already for next year.”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
“Lucas did a fantastic job to finish on the podium today, given that we weren’t even sure he’d be able to start the race until the very last minute, due to the injury he sustained on Saturday evening and the crash in warm-up. But he made it to the grid and then bravely rode through the pain barrier to claim his third podium finish of the season. I am sure that without the injury he would have been challenging for the win today. This was a very important race for Federico’s title challenge. Right up until the end it looked like he could challenge for the podium or even the win, in what was an incredibly fast race but then a small mistake within sight of the chequered flag saw him lose the front at turn 13. He managed to remount to finish 13th in the end, but it was a big blow to his championship challenge and one that will be difficult to recover from with only two races remaining. We have shown we can run at the front every weekend; the team are doing a great job, Yamaha has provided a consistently competitive package, so we have everything we need to finish the season with strong results in Argentina and Qatar. Alfonso’s race was made more difficult by having to start from pit lane again today, but he pushed hard to recover positions but was unable to close the gap to the group ahead after running off the track five laps into the race. But it’s more experience for him, and that will be good for him in the future.”