BCD Yamaha MS Racing’s Andy Verdoïa secured another top ten finish in the WorldSSP300 race at a bitterly cold TT Circuit Assen this weekend. The 16-year-old Frenchman took 9th place at the line, after a race long battle in a leading group made up of 26 riders, to finish as the top Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge rider for the second time in as many races. Galang Hendra Pratama was unable to take advantage of starting from pole position due to the final ratio choice being too short to manage the slipstream in the race, which the Indonesian rider finished with the leading group but in 19th position. Hugo de Cancellis, a bLU cRU team member in 2018, was the first Yamaha rider home in fifth place and currently lies third in the overall championship standings.
The weather conditions made for a tough weekend in Assen for the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders. Unseasonably cold weather made qualifying difficult, but Galang Hendra rose to the challenge to take pole position in temperatures very different to those he’s used to in his home country of Indonesia. Arriving in Parc Ferme after qualifying, the Semakin Di Depan Biblion MotoXRacing rider experienced snow for the first time, as the first flakes started falling on the paddock.
Andy Verdoïa was the only other bLU cRU rider to qualify inside the top 30 to automatically secure his place on the grid for Sunday’s 12-lap WorldSSP300 race, with the Frenchman finishing the 20-minute Superpole session in 21st position, despite a crash.
Jacopo Facco, Beatriz Neila and Kevin Sabatucci, all of whom qualified outside the top 30 in the difficult conditions of Superpole, were looking to secure their place on the grid for Sunday’s race by finishing top six in the WorldSSP300 Last Chance Race on Saturday afternoon, Unfortunately all three lost out on the opportunity when heavy snowfall forced the race to be cancelled.
In slightly better conditions on Sunday it was Galang Hendra who led the charge into the first corner, but the young Indonesian was soon swallowed up by the leading group having opted to run shorter gearing on his YZF-R3 GYTR for the race to improve acceleration. Unfortunately, while this brought an improvement on corner exit, the compromise was less top speed around the fast sections of the Assen circuit, of which there are a lot. Galang Hendra was able to race within the leading group but didn’t have the top speed in the slipstream necessary to improve his position in the pack and he crossed the line in 19th place at the finish.
Starting from the seventh row of the grid, Verdoïa had managed to fight his way into the top half of the 26-rider leading group by the midpoint of the race. With three laps to go the Frenchman moved up into the top ten and managed to defend ninth position to the line, on what was a typically frantic WorldSSP300 last lap.
Unfortunately, Finn de Bruin was unable to participate in his home round in Assen, due to a fracture to his right thumb sustained when he was brought down by another rider last time out in Aragon.
The R3 bLU cRU Challenge overall standings after two races sees Andy Verdoïa leading the way with Galang Hendra Pratama second and Beatriz Neila in third place. The R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders will return to action in round three of WorldSSP300, which takes place at the Imola Circuit in Italy from 10 – 12 May.
BCD Yamaha MS Racing – P9
“Qualifying was really difficult for me. The conditions were very strange and I ended up crashing in the session but still qualified for the race. I had a good warm up on Sunday morning and, in the end, a really good race. My start was bad and I dropped back to 23rd position on the opening lap, but then managed to fight my way back to finish ninth and less than one second from the race winner. It was an incredible race and I think I can be happy with the result given the difficult conditions we experienced during the weekend. Thanks to Yamaha for the help they give to young riders and a big thanks to my team for rebuilding the bike after the qualifying crash. Now we head to Imola, where I hope we will be even stronger.”
Galang Hendra Pratama
Semakin Di Depan Biblion MotoXRacing – P19
“Assen was a weekend of highs and lows for me. I managed to qualify on pole position on Saturday afternoon in difficult conditions, which included snow right at the end of the session. In the race I had problems from the start. The bike was overheating in the slipstream and the gearing we opted to run for the race turned out to be too short when I was in such a big group of riders and had the advantage of the tow. I tried to fight to stay in the top fiver, but it was impossible. We learned a lot in Assen and this will stand us in good stead for the next race in Imola, which I’m already focused on and working hard towards, to ensure we’re in a position to obtain a good result.”
BCD Yamaha MS Racing – DNS
“The weekend started well for me with a good pace in the first two free practice sessions and then we used FP3 on Saturday morning to prepare for Superpole. Unfortunately, we didn’t count on the weather conditions that we had for qualifying and the extreme cold made for a difficult session, which I finished outside the top 30. We were in a good position to claim a place on the grid with a top six finish in the Last Chance Race but that, along with WorldSBK Race 1, ended up being cancelled due to the snow and we missed out. We can take some positives from the weekend because I learned a lot. Now we need to focus on the next race in Imola, where I hope the weather will be kinder to us!”
Team Trasimeno – DNS
“This was my first time racing in Assen and it was like a dream come true, even if the weather made things very difficult for everyone. I started well on Friday, with a top three finish in my group in FP1, but we made the wrong choice for our Superpole strategy and that left me outside the top 30 at the end of the 20-minute session. I was feeling confident of securing a place on the grid in the last chance race, as I had a good feeling with the bike and the track, but then the snow arrived when we were sat on the grid and the race was cancelled. I learned a lot this weekend and now I’m looking forward to putting what I learned into practice at my home race in Imola.”
Semakin Di Depan Biblion MotoXRacing – DNS
“Assen was a difficult weekend for both me and the team. We went in the wrong direction during the two practice sessions on Friday and we weren’t able to recover on Saturday because of the adverse weather conditions that led to the cancellation of the Last Chance Race. Now we need to put the Assen weekend behind us and focus on the next round in Imola, which is a home race for me.”
Finn de Bruin
Team Trasimeno – DNS
“It was unfortunate that I had to miss my home race in Assen, but there was no way I was fit to ride after fracturing my right thumb in a crash with another rider during the first round in Aragon. It’s disappointing, but the focus now has to be on recovery, ready for the remainder of the season.”
Road Racing Supervisor – Yamaha Motor Europe
“It was a tough weekend in Assen for all the bLU cRU guys because of the weather conditions, but it was also a good learning experience, as for most of them this is their first season in WorldSSP300. They learned a lot both on and off track, especially with the sporting support we’ve introduced this year with Joey Litjens coaching them in all aspects of performance. Galang Hendra’s pole position and Andy’s performance in the race are a good indication of where we are with the project. Beatriz, Kevin and Jacopo have all taken onboard the reasons they weren’t able to qualify for Sunday’s race and I’m confident that we will see a significant improvement from them at the next round in Imola. We are grateful to the FIM and to the WorldSBK organization for formulating the revised technical regulations that have ensured fair competition between the different manufacturers. It is a great competition, an awesome show for the fans and we have seen in the opening two races that the Yamaha YZF-R3 GYTR is able to run at the front.”