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2018 WorldSSP Imola Italy - Imola

12 maggio 2018

Masterful Mahias Times it Perfectly to Secure Pole at Imola

Masterful Mahias Times it Perfectly to Secure Pole at Imola

The GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team enjoyed a superb Saturday at Round 5 of the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship. Reigning WorldSSP Champion, Lucas Mahias, secured his third pole position of the season in a dramatic, rain-affected SP2 after setting a brilliant 1:53.042 in what turned out to be a race against the weather. His teammate Federico Caricasulo had been the man to beat at his home round on Friday and he maintained this form, despite the tricky conditions in SP2, to qualify in fourth for Sunday's race. European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppolacontinued his impressive progress in his rookie WorldSSP season as he qualified in 26th, incredibly improving his best time from Friday's FP1 by 2.5s.

The weather has been glorious all weekend at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, but just as the bikes were being warmed up for WorldSSP SP1, ominous grey clouds appeared and a storm was on its way. This meant qualifying was a case of who could set the fastest time before the heavy rain arrived in an exciting game of cat and mouse.
Mahias (71 points) arrived in Imola having seen his championship lead reduced to just one point after two tricky races at Aragon and Assen. Determined to take the fight to his rivals in Imola, the 28-year-old French rider had rediscovered the feeling with his R6 during Friday's practice that he had enjoyed in Phillip Island and Thailand, finishing FP2 in second overall, just 0.051s behind his teammate Caricasulo. This theme continued in FP3 as he again ended the session in second, this time just 0.065s off the pace of his teammate but the best was yet to come. As the riders were waiting for pit lane to open for SP2, the rain started to fall and this saw everybody scramble to get out on their bikes as soon as possible and try and set a lap time on slicks before the track became too wet.
Flying out of his pit box, Mahias used all of his endurance racing experience - where you have to get up to speed immediately so as not to lose any precious time - to set a sensational flying lap at the first attempt. As the first man out on track, he had to assess the conditions as he arrived at each corner, pushing as hard as he could with the rain coming down hard and timing it to perfection to set a 1:53.042 and securing pole with his first flying lap. As the rain increased, it became impossible for anyone to beat his time, meaning the man from Mont-de-Marsan had secured his third pole position of the season - and fourth in six races - by a whopping 0.985s. Mahias now heads into Sunday's race confident he has the pace to battle at the front and looking to extend his championship lead.
His teammate Caricasulo had ended Friday on top of the timesheets as the local hero showed devastating pace around the Imola circuit. He followed this up by topping FP3 on Saturday morning with a 1:51.284 and heading into SP2 he was the man to beat. Heading out on track at the same time as his teammate Mahias, he rode very cleverly and without taking too many risks, safe in the knowledge that his race pace for Sunday would allow him to fight for the win as long as he was not too far back on the grid. The 22-year-old Italian could not quite match Mahias on his first flying lap but still managed to set a 1:54.949 to secure fourth in SP2 and he will start Sunday's race from the head of the second row with the perfect opportunity to fight for the victory.
European Supersport Cup rider Alfonso Coppola has been focusing on his improvement over a race weekend in his rookie year in the WorldSSP class after making the step up from the WorldSSP300 championship. The inaugural Yamaha R3 Challenge Cup winner showed how far he has grown as a rider by improving from a 1:55.979 in FP1, to a 1:54.874 in FP2 to finish Friday in 29th overall. The impressive progress continued in FP3 with the 20-year-old Italian shaving almost 0.5s off his best time to set a 1:54.414. He carried this form into SP1 where, sensationally, he managed to improve by almost a second to a 1:53.559 and he will now line up 23rd on the grid for Sunday's race, determined to fight for his first WorldSSP Championship point.
After the changeable conditions on Saturday, Sunday's forecast is for blue skies and a high of 25°C and the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team are looking forward to hitting the track at 9:10 am local time (CEST) for Warm Up, with the 17-lap race due to start at 11:30 am. Check out the WorldSSP qualifying results.



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