GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Lucas Mahias heads to the final round of the season in Qatar this weekend leading the 2017 FIM Supersport World Championship by 20 points. The 28-year-old French rider knows the task at hand and will be guaranteed the title under the floodlights in Qatar if he finishes Saturday's race in tenth or higher. His teammate Federico Caricasulo is aiming to continue the stunning form that saw enjoy a 'perfect' weekend at the last round in Jerez so that he can finish the season in the strongest way possible.
Mahias (165 points) rode to a superb fifth in Jerez despite suffering from a lack of grip with his front tyre, extending his championship lead to 20 points in the process, with just 25 up for grabs in Qatar. The 2016 EWC Rider's Champion has a good record around the Losail International Circuit having raced there twice before in WorldSSP, both times crossing the line in fourth. Mahias enjoys the fast and flowing track, with the French rider aiming to approach the weekend in his usual determined way, just focused on winning the race but, obviously, he will have one eye on the championship as he looks to lift 2017 WorldSSP title.
Caricasulo had a sensational round in Jerez, with the 21-year-old Italian securing pole position, the fastest lap and a new lap record, and taking the race victory. This result sees him approach the final round in Qatar full of confidence in himself, his Yamaha R6 and his team, as he looks to finish the year in the best way possible and enter the 2018 season as a genuine title contender. Caricasulo currently occupies sixth in the championship standings with 105 points, just three points behind PJ Jacobson in fifth.
The 5.380km Losail International Circuit is located 30km north of Doha in Qatar and plays host to the only night race on the WorldSBK calendar. Opened in 2004, this will be the ninth time the circuit has held a WorldSBK round and the track itself consists of 16 corners, ten right and six left-handed, plus a start/finish straight that is over a kilometre long. Providing a mix of fast-flowing corners and some technical slower sections, it has become a firm favourite with the riders and its layout always seems to provide an exciting spectacle under the floodlights for the fans.
The Acerbis Qatar Round follows a different schedule than most, with just the WorldSBK & WorldSSP classes involved and the track action taking place at night from Thursday-Saturday. Therefore, the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team will take to the track for Free Practice 1 on Thursday afternoon at 16:30 pm local time, with Friday's qualifying starting at 19:30 pm and Saturday's race scheduled for 21:00 pm.
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 1st - 165 points
"I love the Losail circuit, especially because riding at night is a very different sensation! The track itself is awesome and also very fast, so I think it should suit the R6. I have only ridden twice in Qatar in WorldSSP, both times finishing in fourth position. Obviously, there is a lot of pressure on me for the championship. If I am honest, I have found it hard to focus on anything else since Jerez, but this has just made me even more determined to become world champion!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team - 6th - 105 points
"I can't wait to ride in Losail! After a great weekend in Jerez, I feeling confident about this weekend and I have a great feeling with my Yamaha R6 and the team. After a weekend like that, it is important to keep the momentum going, so we have been working very hard to allow us to arrive in Qatar in the best possible shape. The important thing for me is to try and finish the season on top, so I can head into the 2018 season in style and confident I can challenge for the title."
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team Manager
"To be honest, our approach to the final round of the season will be the same as we have done since the very first round in Phillip Island, as always to and try and perform at our very best. Lucas is so close to winning the title, as a team, we will do our best to provide him with the best possible package that we can, then it simply comes down to Lucas. We believe in him and know he will give it everything to get the result he needs. On Federico's side, he is feeling very confident after his excellent weekend in Jerez and he will be looking to do the same as he did there so he can enter the 2018 season in the best way possible. We are very happy with the way the season has gone, everyone in the team & Yamaha has worked so hard to get us where we are...now it is time to go and win the championship!"