The first round of the 2021 FIM Superbike World Championship came to a close today under wet conditions, and with it came GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team’s first podium of the season, with Garrett Gerloff storming to third place in the Superpole Race.
The last day of the weekend represented a great step in the right direction for the GRT Yamaha riders, as demonstrated both by the performances on track and by the final results, despite the non-completely satisfactory outcome of Race 2.
Gerloff’s day had started off with the eighth fastest time in the Warm-Up, which was followed by his first podium of the season, a third place which he achieved in the Superpole Race after an impressive recovery, having initially dropped to 14th on the opening lap.
In Race 2, the American continued to show great confidence and pace and was able to fight for the lead in the first laps, until an off forced him to make yet another stellar comeback from 13th position, and he eventually crossed the finish line in seventh.
Kohta Nozane also impressed on Sunday, running a strong Superpole Race, climbing to ninth from his 16th starting spot thanks to his consistent pace on the intermediate tyres. In the longer Race 2 he was not able to repeat the same top-10 performance, but he ran a smart and error-free 18 laps, gathering important experience in mixed conditions and still improving on his Saturday result by finishing 12th and taking more points.
After the first round of the season, Gerloff sits sixth in the championship with 23 points, whereas Nozane is 15th with seven. In less than a week, the WorldSBK riders will be on track again at the Circuito do Estoril, with Free Practice 1 kicking off the weekend on Friday 28 May at 10:30, followed by FP2 at 15:00, local time.
Garrett Gerloff: SPRC – P3 / R2 – 7th
GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team
“Our Sunday started off really well with a third place in the Superpole Race. The team and I made a perfect decision to go with the intermediate tyre, and it worked. It was nice to be on the podium, even though I felt like I could have gotten second place. In Race 2, I felt really good from the start, and wanted to at least fight for the podium, so I’m very frustrated with the mistake I made. I was behind Johnny (Rea), but I couldn’t stop as quickly as he did, and my options were either to hit him in the back or to get to his inside and hopefully miss him, so that’s what I tried to do. Unfortunately, I still ran into him, but at least he was able to stay on two wheels. I crashed, but I managed to pick up the bike right away and keep going. It was a bit bent, but overall the bike was good, so I tried to give the team the best possible result despite the mistake. It was nice to be the top independent rider at the finish. Next week we go to Estoril, a track that both I and my Yamaha R1 really like, so see you there.”
Kohta Nozane: SPRC – P9 / R2 – P12
GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team
“The conditions were different today, so the tyre choice was a bit tricky. The track kept changing too, so, at the beginning of the race, I was too cautious and I lost positions. I still managed to finish the race and learn so many things. I also took note of so many different aspects in which I have to improve. The next race will be my first time in Estoril, so it will be tough for me, but I will try to be as prepared as possible to do my best for the team. They are working so well with me and helping me a lot, so I will try to get a good result for them in Portugal.”