Record Breaking Locatelli Doubles Up in Portimão Thriller
Andrea Locatelli became the first rider in history to win five consecutive FIM Supersport World Championship races, as the Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team ace doubled up at Portimão, following two thrilling battles with GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team rival Jules Cluzel.
After taking an emphatic pole position in Saturday’s Superpole, his third of the season, Locatelli was made to fight for victory in the opening race at the Portuguese circuit. Both GMT94 Yamaha riders, Cluzel and Corentin Perolari, jumped ahead of the Italian at the start but it wasn’t long before the championship leader was back to the front. Locatelli fought with Cluzel, making his move on lap seven and streaked clear, as the Frenchman fell, to take victory number four.
It was much the same in Race 2, as Locatelli lost the lead on the run to Turn 1, but fired back through on Perolari at the end of the main straight on lap three. After several laps sitting behind race leader Cluzel, the Evan Bros Yamaha rider made his move at Turn 8 on lap nine and pulled clear to take a record-breaking fifth WorldSSP victory in a row.
Cluzel recovered from his fall to take a sixth-place finish in Race 1, collecting valuable championship points in order to keep his 2020 title bid alive. In Race 2, the GMT94 Yamaha rider made another strong start, moving into the lead by the end of the opening lap. The Frenchman defended hard from Locatelli but eventually conceded the position, remaining unchallenged in second until the chequered flag for his fourth podium of the season.
Having finished Race 1 in fifth, just 0.018 seconds from the podium, Kallio Racing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Isaac Viñales bounced back with a stellar ride to third on Sunday, claiming his first rostrum of the 2020 campaign.
Perolari was also in that three-way drag race to the line in Saturday’s opener, taking fourth for the GMT94 Yamaha squad, and secured more championship points with seventh in Race 2. Just behind was Kallio Racing’s Hannes Soomer, who continued his run of top 10 finishes, taking eighth in Race 2, one better than yesterday.
bLU cRU Yamaha WorldSSP Team rider Galang Hendra Pratama claimed his first WorldSSP championship point in the second race from the Algarve International Circuit, finishing 15th, as teammate Andy Verdoïa rode through the pain barrier, following an injury sustained in Jerez, to reach the chequered flag on Sunday.
Andrea Locatelli: P1 & P1
Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team
“I’m very happy because I never think that it will be easy to take victory, but I always push and it feels good to win. It was difficult for me at the start, as I didn’t get a good launch and I had to fight back a little bit. When I got to the rear of Jules’ bike, I was waiting for a good time to pass, then he made a small mistake and I overtook him. I got into a good rhythm and started to pull a gap. The field is so close every time, so you can’t make any mistakes. We are fast and the team works very well, so thanks to everyone at Evan Bros Yamaha. I didn’t have a good feeling for the opening stages of Race 2, but after the first four or five laps it just got better. Next up is Aragon, it’s a track I know, so we need to work a little bit with the bike to understand its strengths and weaknesses. For now, we’ve got a good set-up and we’ll continue to push.”
Jules Cluzel: P6 & P2
GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team
“After yesterday, I was sure I could be stronger. We took risks in Race 1, but I wasn’t feeling entirely happy with the set-up. This morning we tried some things that didn’t work, but in the race, we could lead for eight laps, which is positive. I couldn’t do any more than that. I then focused on holding second, as Vinales was coming quickly. The Evan Bros Yamaha bike is able to manage the grip a lot better somehow. Second is OK and it’s a good weekend overall, we tried but couldn’t quite make it. I’m confident that I’ll be on the pace in Aragon, I’m not too sure we can win though. We are able to pull a good gap on those behind, they’re all very strong riders, but it’s going to be tough to beat Locatelli.”
Isaac Viñales: P5 & P3
Kallio Racing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team
“We had a good rhythm yesterday, but didn’t quite get the podium. Today was better, I had a good start and pushed a lot. We closed the gap to Cluzel a little bit, but Locatelli is another step ahead though. We need to make a few changes to the bike set-up to challenge the guys ahead, but I expect to be fighting for the podium again in Aragon. It’s not my favourite circuit, I haven’t always gone well there, but I will push for a top three.”