Frenchman Mahias, World Champion in 2017, has now earned front row starts in 23 WorldSSP races, and is in an ideal position to make best use of his strong starting position in the split-format 16 lap race on Sunday 1 March.
Öttl is WorldSSP rookie but he expects to be able to call on his great Grand Prix experience around Phillip Island on raceday. Today he replicated his sixth place in the rankings at the official tests at PI earlier this week.
Both Kawasaki Puccetti Racing riders, in their own ways, have intimate knowledge of the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit but for rookie WorldSSP rider Öttl and 2017 WorldSSP Champion Mahias, both have to take on a two-part flag-to-flag race on Sunday.
The riders will have to make a pit stop halfway through the race to take on new rubber, as PI is such a tough race for the left side of the tyres. That will make tomorrow a test of strategy and team-work as well as pure pace.
The first race of the year will take place on Sunday 1 March, with round two following on two weeks later, under the floodlights at Losail in Qatar.
Lucas Mahias, stated: “Qualifying was not so bad so I am very happy. To start the race in third position, on the front row, is good. I tried to understand the way the tyre works on the bike but for the moment it is OK. The pace for the race is also OK, and our rhythm is not so bad. It is not a long race here and there will be a pit stop in the middle so for the moment, for the race - I think I am a little bit ready!”
Philipp Öttl, stated: “It was an intense practice session because you come into the pits two times, and three times you use almost new tyres. I am happy with sixth place. We did our best lap time, from the tests and the weekend so far, so that was good. This morning we had a pretty consistent pace. I am happy at the moment but tomorrow is Sunday – one day after today! So it may be something different. Tomorrow in the race I think you will see what your feeling is worth – if it is good or not. I am happy with the team and the work we have done so far.”
The 16 year old Turkish rider Can Öncü (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was 11th in his first ever WorldSSP Superpole qualifying session, with Manuel Gonzalez (Kawasaki ParkinGO Team) 13th. Both riders finished ahead of many more experienced competitors in their first truly meaningful WorldSSP outings before the opening race tomorrow.