The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship grid is beginning to take shape as the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team announce Lucas Mahias as their rider in WorldSBK next season. The 2017 World Supersport Champion has won races for the Italian team’s World Supersport effort in the last two years and will graduate to the WorldSBK Championship on a full-time basis for 2021.
Mahias first came to the WorldSBK paddock back in 2014 in World Supersport for the final two races of the year. He qualified second in his first ever round at Magny-Cours before taking fourth in the final race of the season at Losail. He was the French Supersport Champion for that year, too. In 2015, he joined the Intermoto Ponyexpress Kawasaki team and took his first podium at home. He finished the season 12th overall. 2016 saw him flick about within the paddock, taking three podiums in the STK1000 class from his three race starts – two wins and a pole in amongst them. He also had a dabble in WorldSBK with Pedercini Kawasaki at Assen and scored points, with a best finish of tenth.
However, it was 2017 where he really came into his own, becoming a permanent fixture in WorldSSP. It was a thrilling season from start to finish for Mahias and his two wins and six other podiums were enough to give him the title, despite a stunning charge from WorldSSP legend Kenan Sofuoglu at the end, with the Turkish star fighting back from injury. Mahias relinquished his crown to rookie Sandro Cortese in 2018 before switching to Puccetti Kawasaki for 2019. From Misano onwards, he scored more points than eventual Champion Randy Krummenacher and runner-up Federico Caricasulo. Two wins took him to fourth overall, whilst he stayed with the team for 2020, with three wins across the two years so far.
Talking about his new challenge for 2021, Mahias stated his elation: “This is the best news for me, I’m really happy; it is the sweetest moment of my career. When I come to World Championships, I had one dream to win in World Supersport and in 2017, I did that. I tried to win again, and it was a little bit difficult. Now, in my head, the second dream is exactly the same in World Superbike. When I arrive at Puccetti Kawasaki I thought that maybe, with the Superbike in the box, if I can ride fast in WorldSSP then maybe I can have the Superbike in the future. It’s a start of a new adventure with a lot of work but I’m ready for this challenge. I don’t have any goals for the moment apart from to improve step-by-step. For the moment, I don’t have a big objective, just to improve and to understand things for the future to ride at the front.”
The Puccetti Kawasaki team have been in the WorldSBK class since 2017 and in that time, have gone from strength to strength. In 2018, they welcomed the arrival of Turkish sensation and WorldSBK rookie Toprak Razgatlioglu, who delivered them a first podium in Race 2 at Donington Park. In 2019, Razgatlioglu stormed to his and the team’s first victory from 16th on the grid in Race 1 and backed it up in the Tissot Superpole Race. They were the Independent Teams’ Champions of 2019 and came into 2020 with the return of Xavi Fores. It’s been a difficult season with only two top tens so far but with Mahias stepping up, all hope is that they can be back on the top-five form they enjoyed in 2019.
Speaking about the deal, team principal Manuel Puccetti said: “It’s nice that Lucas believes in us from World Supersport three years ago. We did our best for him this year, after six months away from racing because of the difficult situation. Last year, he did six podiums and two victories and this season, he’s been inside the top two or three every session. We believe in him and will do our best to help him grow in WorldSBK. Of course, we don’t expect him to win immediately, as it is important to give him time and be allowed to grow.”