Frenchman Lucas Mahias has dominated round one of the 2018 MOTUL FIM Supersport World Championship at Phillip Island this afternoon.
Mahias, the reigning world champion, was in a league of his own as he led from start to finish to win the shortened nine-lap race ahead of fellow Yamaha riders Randy Krummenacher and Sandro Cortese.
Meanwhile, it was a disaster for Australia’s big hope Anthony West (Kawasaki), who retired with a mechanical problem after starting from the front row of the grid. It was better news for West’s compatriot Tom Toparis (Kawasaki), with the 17-year-old scoring his first world championship point in 15th position.
The first attempt at the WorldSSP race was red-flagged on lap four after Hans Soomer (Honda) and Michael Canducci (Kawasaki) crashed heavily – but in separate incidents – at turn 11.
The restart was over nine ‘sprint’ laps, which saw Kenan Sofuoglu five-year-old lap record of 1m33.283s broken on two occasions – first by Mahias (1:33.252) and then Cortese (1:33.072), the 2012 Moto3 world champion making good on his debut in the WorldSSP category.
In the restart, Mahias returned straight back to his peerless front-running business, leaving Krummenacher, Caricasulo and Cortese to fight over the final two podium positions.
Krummenacher held onto second position for the final two laps, while Cortese drafted past Caricasulo on the final run down Gardner Straight to finish third by just 0.039 seconds.
Briton Luke Stapleford (Triumph) was fifth ahead of Raffaele de Rosa (MV Agusta), Jules Cluzel (Yamaha), Kyle Smith (Honda), Ayrton Badovini (MV Agusta) and Thomas Gradinger (Yamaha).
Four-time world champion Sofuoglu (Kawasaki) was as high as third on lap one, but fell through the pack on the final few laps to finish in 13th position – just ahead of Hikari Okubo (Kawasaki) and Toparis in 14th and 15th
The final Aussie in the field, Lachlan Epis (Kawasaki), was also a retirement.
Round two is at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand on March 25.
WorldSSP Race Results: 1. Lucas Mahias – Yamaha 2. Randy Krummenacher – Yamaha 3. Sandro Cortese – Yamaha
Australians: 15. Tom Toparis – Kawasaki Retired. Lachlan Epis – Kawasaki Retired. Anthony West – Kawasaki
For more information contact the circuit on the toll free World Superbike Hotline 1300 728 007 or www.worldsbk.com.au