Positivity and Passionate Fans Get Locatelli Through His Home Race

2023 Yamaha R125

Andrea Locatelli faced what can only be described as his home race at the beginning of June at Misano World Circuit “Marco Simoncelli”. The rider from Bergamo struggled to find feeling during the demanding event, but he was picked up by the positivity of his team and the passion of his many supporters.

“Loka” started his weekend with the usual Thursday press duties, but these were a lot busier than the average as the 26-year-old had announced just days earlier that he had signed a new two-year contract with Yamaha Racing. The mood was one of calm and satisfaction, with the renewal demonstrating the continued faith the manufacturer has in the determined young rider.

“I’m staying with Yamaha throughout 2024 and 2025 and I’m so excited because, honestly, since 2021, we have had great success and I’m so happy to continue and try to build together. I’m ready to learn more and fight for the podium and victories. This is our target.”

With the knowledge of his future being settled, Loka could momentarily relax into the weekend with a clear and happy mind. An event on Thursday evening in Rimini allowed the Italian to meet and greet many fans as the early summer sun set across the Adriatic Sea.

“A lot of people have come to see us here at this event in Rimini and it’s wonderful because I can really feel that they are pushing us and cheering for us, it’s so nice. I’ll try show my talent on the track tomorrow.”

As Friday morning came around there was already a large number of fans waiting outside the Pata Prometeon WorldSBK Team pitbox, keen to wish their rider good luck for the coming FP1 session. The first contact with the Emilia-Romagna track went well for the Italian rider as he finished in fifth place, just half a second from the top time.

“I immediately felt good here, especially as we had a recent test in Misano. The track conditions are a bit different, it’s warmer here. But the base set-up isn’t bad, and my feeling isn’t bad. I just need to work a bit more to try and improve my feeling, but I’m happy with how It’s going so far…”

However, things got trickier for Loka as the weekend went on; he finished 14th in FP2, and a red flag while he was on a hot lap in the Superpole session denied him a chance of progressing up the grid and he ended up 11th. He was unable to improve on this in the first full-length race of the weekend, taking 12th at the finish line.

Yet Loka pushed on, having in-depth debriefs with his dedicated crew members after each track session, trying to squeeze the maximum from his R1 on a circuit where he has often struggled. And whenever the rider emerged from his pitbox after these lengthy chats, still sweating in his leathers in the oppressive heat, there would be a huge crowd of friendly faces, not only waiting for selfies or autographs with the Italian star but offering him words of encouragement and giving out endless positive vibes.

“It’s always special to come here. I’ve known this place since I was a child, but it’s amazing to be here and have so many fans, it’s exciting and motivating to see them here all weekend and supporting me. I really want to give my maximum to do a good job here in Italy.”

In the short Superpole Race the setting tweaks and the support from fans and team alike had boosted Loka up to a solid seventh place finish and a few vital championship points for the rider who sits third in the season standings. He bettered this result further in the second feature-length race, grabbing a decent sixth place. There was a feeling that, thanks to help from all around him, a great salvage job had been made of what could have been a troublesome weekend at the technical track.

Locatelli also marked the occasion of his ‘home’ GP with a special addition; a one-off helmet design based on the very first one he owned at four years old when he began riding. This paintjob gave him a further boost and reminded him how far he’s come from first twisting the throttle to becoming a fully-fledged World Superbike rider capable of fighting for the very top. This, coupled with the presence of his loyal and loving fanclub, left Loka emotional and proud at the end of an intense but enjoyable weekend.

“This is always a difficult weekend with a lot of pressures, and it’s a track I struggle with sometimes. We worked hard with the crew every session to improve, and although Saturday didn’t go to plan, on Sunday I was much closer to the podium and the sixth place finish wasn’t bad. The fans here have been incredible, it has been a wonderful experience to share the weekend with them and I want to thank them for their support and warmth.”

 

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