Nothing splits front runners in Australia
Starting under the sun on Monday morning, 24 FIM Supersport World Championship riders took to the track for the final pre-season test of the year. Strong winds were a force to be contended with, but riders were still able to impress out on track. It was Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) who took the first honours of the week, setting a lap time of 1.34.088.
Reigning world champion Mahias opened the year in strong form, and finished the mornings session at the top of the timing screens, over 0.329s ahead of his rivals. Team-mate Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) was the second fastest rider in the morning, whilst Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) impressed by ending in the top three. However the main protagonist’s weren’t far behind and Kenan Sofuoglu (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) was fourth in the morning, with new addition to the paddock Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) in fifth.
With 2013 champion Sam Lowes still holding the lap record here with a lap of 1.32.545s, it would be a hard one for the riders to beat in such conditions as today threw up. But as riders prepared to head out in the afternoon, the wind continued to beat around the circuit. Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) was spending his time getting used to the Italian machine, the Italian suffered a crash at turn three however was up and ok.
The end of the first day beckoned, and riders were being cautious out on track, not wanting to push too hard and cause a crash on the opening day of the week. Despite a slight challenge at the top of the timing screens, Caricasulo finished the day in second overall. Stapleford was not shy out on track and was challenging for the top position with just under an hour remaining. Ending the day in third overall, he was just 0.322s behind the top two riders and a positive 2018 beckons. Whilst rookie rider Cortese ended his first official day in the top four, ahead of five time WorldSSP champion Sofuoglu in fifth. With a new team for this season and his first time out on track, Jules Cluzel (NRT) impressed on his first ever day with the team.
Home hero Antony West (EAB antwest Racing) had a strong day at his home circuit, and was only 0.8s off the top of the timing screens as he continues to work with his new team. Mike Di Meglio (GMT94 Yamaha) is another new face to welcome to the WorldSSP paddock, and is preparing to make his debut with the YZF-R6 around the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit. Finishing the day in 12th overall, he put in a strong start to the campaign.
Click here for a full list of the opening day’s WorldSSP Results, and be sure to follow all the latest reactions and highlights from the test with the WorldSBK VideoPass.