Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) continued to show phenomenal Free Practice form at the Losail International Circuit, recording the fastest time on Thursday at the Pirelli Qatar Round. FIM Supersport World Championship leader Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) followed close behind in second position, with both riders head and shoulders above the rest of the field in Free Practice.
The biggest news of the day arrived shortly after the green lights turned on for FP1, yet it happened off track: Mahias has been officially reinstated as the winner of the Nolan Portuguese Round following an appeal to the CAS. This decision comes with one huge knock-on effect: the gap between Jules Cluzel (NRT) and Cortese has been reduced to five points, turning Saturday’s race into a winner-takes-all affair.
But if Free Practice is anything to go by, these new developments have done nothing but embolden Cortese ahead of the final showdown. The German was the only rider capable of following the 2017 Champion’s pace through FP1, with Cluzel lagging nearly a full second behind in fifth position.
Even as the margins tightened throughout the second session Mahias and Cortese remained one step above the chasing pack for most of the second 50-minute practice. Only Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evan Bros. WorldSSP Team) managed to briefly topple the pair with three minutes on the clock; however, his slipstream-aided lap was quickly countered by Thursday’s two frontrunners, with the Swiss rider having to settle for third.
Cluzel finished FP2 in fourth position, nearly half a second behind his championship rival. Corentin Perolari (GMT94 YAMAHA) moved up to fifth position in the closing stages of the session, followed by Raffaele De Rosa (MV Agusta Reparto Corse by Vamag) in sixth, in a return to form by the Italian.
Federico Caricasulo (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) ended his day in seventh position, remaining ahead of Hector Barbera (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing) in eighth. The British duo of Kyle Smith (CIA Landlord Insurance Honda) and Luke Stapleford (Profile Racing) close the top ten.
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Losail International Circuit: Friday
1. Lucas Mahias (GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team) 2:00.876
2. Sandro Cortese (Kallio Racing) +0.113
3. Randy Krummenacher (BARDAHL Evans Bros. WorldSSP Team) +0.518
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