WorldSBK and WorldSSP stars gear up for 2021 with Mugello race outing

Monday, 19 April 2021 10:30 GMT

Lucas Mahias, Philipp Oettl, Can Öncu, Michel Fabrizio and Federico Fuligni all took part in the CIV championship as wildcard entries at Mugello

Testing has been going on for months in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship and FIM Supersport World Championship but four riders from across both paddocks took advantage of the Italian superbike championship’s opening weekend at Mugello to get up to race speed. Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) joined the superbike class from the CIV championship while Philipp Oettl (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), teammate Can Öncü, Michel Fabrizio (G.A.P Motozoo Racing by Puccetti) and VFT Racing’s Federico Fuligni took part in the supersport class.

Frenchman Mahias, who is stepping into WorldSBK full-time in 2021, claimed two victories in Italy onboard his Kawasaki ZX-10RR although he was not eligible for points in the CIV championship. Mahias also started both races from pole position as he looked to continue preparations for his rookie campaign and started off his season in immaculate form.

“Saturday’s race was my first in Superbike,” said Mahias. “It’s not the World Championship of course, but I have to say that the CIV level is very high. I’ve had fun and felt very comfortable on the bike. My main aim was to continue to adapt my style to the Superbike and to be able to do so during a race has been useful and significant. Mugello was a brand-new track for me, and I really like it. In both races, I was able to get to know the bike better and I constantly improved, both in the races and in practice. Now I can’t wait for the World Championship to begin. I want to thank my team for all their help.”

In supersport, four riders from WorldSSP were taking part with Oettl claiming two victories out of two in Mugello, with Fuligni tracking Oettl in the opening race of the weekend on Saturday and finishing just three seconds behind the German rider. Sunday’s race was a similar affair with three seconds separating the duo. Turkish rider Öncü finished third in Saturday’s race and fourth on Sunday, although his weekend was hampered by a crash in the warm up session. For Öncü, it was his first time riding since his arm was injured in a car accident and he felt the effects of this on Saturday in the latter stages of the 14-lap race. Fabrizio, making his WorldSSP comeback in 2021, finished the races in seventh and ninth place with, like Mahias, all four riders unable to score championship points. Fuligni will return as a wildcard to the CIV on May 15th and 16th when the Italian championship hits the Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”.

Discussing Saturday’s race, Fuligni said: “I’m not particularly happy, because I’d have liked to win, but I guess it’s the same because it wasn’t actually our goal. I could have beaten Oettl today. I could have passed him in the final laps but I waited until the end. Unfortunately, as I braked into San Donato I went long, and there was no time to make up for my mistake. In the end, we’re here to gain experience and get some miles under our belts ahead of the world championship. I want to thank the team for their hard work and all the sponsors.” Reacting to Sunday’s race, he added: “Like yesterday, I didn’t make a good start, but I was immediately aggressive and tried not to let the leaders get away. Perhaps my mistake in today’s race was to wait too long before passing Oncu, which caused me to lose precious time and the opportunity to stick with Oettl.”

Oettl said: “Qualifying went very well and I had fun in the races. It’s been a good training exercise because there’s the adrenaline of the racing and the team is back working with all the stress and the spirit of races, and this will be very useful ahead of the opening round. In Saturday’s race, I spent a few laps getting into the right rhythm, also because there was a strong wind which was bothering me. But then I found a strong pace and was able to break away from my rivals. On Sunday things went better. I immediately found very good feeling with my bike and was able to maintain a strong pace for the entire race. Beyond the result itself, I’m very happy to have completed two races and think I’m ready for the World Championship.”

Turkish rider Öncü explained his race weekend including how the pain in his arm impacted him, saying: “Saturday’s race was a complicated one, also due to the pain in my arm which limited me. I lost contact with the leading pair and battled with the chasing group, and it was fun. On Sunday I crashed in warm-up and damaged the bike. Luckily, I was unhurt and my technicians were amazing, fixing my Kawasaki in time. In the race, I felt better than yesterday and lapped faster. I still need to improve in certain areas to exploit the bike’s full potential, but we’ll do so during the opening round. I want to thank my team for their support here at Mugello.”

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