The ending of this weekend’s World Supersport race was intense, as bodies went flying and Yamaha came within a tire’s width away from its first victory for the new 2017 R6. All the scuffling allowed former GP rider, and current privateer journeyman, Anthony West, to sneak in for a surprise podium aboard his privately funded, last generation R6.
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In a dramatic WorldSSP race in Australia Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) fought all the way to second place on the new YZF-R6, finishing just 0.001 seconds from victory. He was subsequently penalised one second, but retained his runner-up status, after clashing with race winner Roberto Rolfo over the finish line. Mahias fellow GRT Yamaha rider Federico Caricasulo was on course for a possible podium finish but fell on the final lap and no-scored.
Originally scheduled for 18 laps the first WorldSSP race of the 2017 season was cut to 15 laps as a precaution against excessive tyre wear, and after a crash brought out the red flag in the first attempted race a ten lap contest was finally run.
The race was as intense as its sprint length may have indicated and Mahias was never out of the top three places across the line. Rolfo and Lucas exited the final corner line astern and touched as they battled for the win across the line, with Rolfo eventually running of the track surface.
Caricasulo, who had qualified third, led the first lap on the YZF-R6 and stayed in contention for the win right through until the final lap. In trying to re-pass Jules Cluzel he fell and collided with his rival’s machine on the exit of MG corner, his front-end grip issues finally catching him out.
The WorldSSP riders now head to Thailand and the Buriram circuit in readiness for the second round on Sunday March 12th.
“It was a very short race but a very good one. In the beginning of the week I crashed very hard in turn three so it is incredible to be on the podium today. Coming to the line for the final time I realised I could be fast out of the last corner. I would have preferred to win the race but I was just a bit short. Finishing second is a good start for Yamaha as this is a new bike and this is its first podium in the World Championship. My focus from the start was in saving the rear tyre, not pushing a lot. I had a good feeling with the front but some other riders slid a lot from the rear. I was not aggressive with the throttle so that was not a big problem for me and we got a good result.”
I had some problem all race with the front grip and I was almost closing the front sometimes. In the last lap I definitely closed the front and crashed. I am sorry for Jules crash and I hope he will make a quick recovery. I am sure we will do better in the next races. My concentration was not a problem and my mind was clear even with two starts, it was just the problem in the front and now we will check what happened. Maybe it was the high temperature but now we will try to understand why.