Thrilling weekend of Superbike action at Misano World Circuit

The battle for the win in the FIM bLU cRU R3 Cup featured 11 riders

This weekend saw the return of the Superbike World Championship after a seven-week hiatus in racing action. The Misano World Circuit, Marco Simoncelli, hosted round four of the championship in what couldn’t have been more different conditions than last time out in Assen, with WorldSBK swapping near-freezing temperatures and unpredictable rainfall for wall-to-wall sunshine on Italy’s Adriatic coastline.

It was another thrilling weekend of Superbike action, again with mixed emotions for Yamaha Racing, from Aldi Satya Mahendra’s stunning WorldSSP300 victory, Andrea Locatelli’s best-ever Misano weekend and Remy Gardner leading WorldSBK Race 1, to the challenges faced elsewhere in Yamaha’s stable. Here’s Yamaha Motor Europe Motorsport R&D and Road Racing Manager, Andrea Dosoli’s take on the weekend:

DOSOLI DEBRIEF

There was a long break in racing, and even though we were busy with testing and development activities, it was nice to be back racing this weekend.

This weekend saw more than 75,000 fans at Misano, which is a strong rise compared to last year, which was 10% up on the year before. This confirms the growing interest in WorldSBK and the fantastic job done by the Misano World Circuit, Marco Simoncelli management.

Aldi Satya Mahendra celebrates his first WorldSSP victory as a full-time rider

Aldi Satya Mahendra celebrates his first WorldSSP victory as a full-time rider

MAHENDRA WINS WORLDSSP300

It was really nice to see Aldi Satya Mahendra winning his first race as a full-time WorldSSP300 rider in Misano. This confirms the value of our bLU cRU programme as the right platform to help young riders progress through the categories, and also shows the benefits of a truly global programme involving Yamaha distributors from around the world, in this case the Yamaha distributor in Indonesia. This is a fantastic reward for them for their investment in motorsport, and it has been very nice to see the growth and progress of this young Indonesian rider.

Aldi’s older brother, Galang Hendra Pratama also rode very well on Sunday to fight within the top group, bouncing back from a crash on Saturday. He missed the podium by only 0.001 seconds! It was an emotional moment in parc ferme when he came to congratulate his brother. It was a strong race for Yamaha all round, as not only did we win the race we also had four R3s in the top six.

Manzi celebrates Supersport podium at home

Manzi celebrates Supersport podium at home

‘THIS WAS THE MAXIMUM RESULT POSSIBLE’

We had high expectations in Supersport, as it was the home race for Stefano Manzi and also the home race for the Evans Bros team too. We have improved the package and the pace this year, but unfortunately it seemed that the maximum possible result on the track for our bike was third, achieved by Stefano Manzi on Saturday and then Valentin Debise on Sunday. Our riders were losing a couple of tenths per lap, especially in one sector, so there is work that needs to be done as the advantage was clear. On Wednesday, our teams will test in Cremona so hopefully we can look for some further progress.

Locatelli in front of the Yamaha grandstand

Locatelli in front of the Yamaha grandstand

POSITIVE SIGNS AT A DIFFICULT CIRCUIT FOR YAMAHA

Moving to Superbike, we faced the challenges that Misano sometimes offers! When our riders hit the track on Friday morning, they found a very different feeling compared to the test two weeks ago.

The teams had to work on the chassis set up to improve the feeling, particularly the front feeling on corner entry. Locatelli and Gardner were the riders who succeeded in improving this feeling, confirmed by their results across the weekend.

It was a joy to see Remy leading the race on Saturday after a very good qualifying practice. We really enjoyed watching him in the first few laps of the race, he was so smooth and fast in his riding showing both his potential and the potential of the R1. Unfortunately, the front tyre dropped more than expected and then he had to manage this and take the best possible result. On Sunday, Remy was very unlucky, he was pushed out in the first laps of the Superpole Race and then he was involved in a racing incident which saw him out of the race. This meant he had to start race two further behind and we know that on a race track like Misano, which doesn’t allow the opportunity to maximise the strengths of the R1, meant he struggled to recover the positions. However, this does not take away from his performance and potential shown earlier in the weekend.

Gardner leading Race 1

Gardner leading Race 1

The best Yamaha rider across the weekend was Andrea Locatelli, who, thanks to a good job done by his crew – who were able to set-up his bike to suit the conditions, dramatically improved his pace. He was 11 seconds faster over race distance in similar conditions than he was last year, showing the improvement of Andrea as a rider and the progress with the technical package.

We cannot ignore the unexpected technical issues experienced by Dominique Aegerter, and for this we apologise to him and his crew. Our engineers are studying the data in order to understand the reason and why this happened.

We arrived to Misano with Jonathan Rea with high expectations after a positive test last month, but the different track conditions did not help here. The team did not succeed in improving Jonathan’s feeling, meaning he could not improve on his lap time from the test.

This weekend, we clearly did not give Jonathan what he was looking for and as a result of this he qualified badly; worsened by the fact his quickest lap was cancelled.

He made a good start in Race 1, improving a few positions in the first corners, but then he had a huge crash at the end of the first lap on one of the fastest corners on the track. Luckily he was not seriously injured, but the consequences of the crash did not help improve the feeling for Sunday, so the race results were not what any of us deserve as a group, the rider, the team or Yamaha.

This situation is difficult for all of us, and it is understandably becoming frustrating, especially for Jonathan. We are all working hard to understand what he needs in order to be able to progress and improve.  As we have seen from Gardner and Locatelli, the potential of the R1 is there, we just need to find a way Jonathan can extract this potential, making him more comfortable and closer to the front where we all deserve to be.

The first ever WorldWCR race took place at Misano

The first ever WorldWCR race took place at Misano

HISTORY WITH FIRST WORLDWCR RACES

Another milestone was achieved in Misano with the first race of the Women’s Circuit Racing World Championship, a programme we have been keen to support since day one. It has generated a lot of interest, and there was a lot of excitement felt inside the village from the start of the weekend. This excitement was then transferred to the track, which was maybe a bit too much in the first race, so I’m glad that the FIM spoke to the riders after race one to deliver the message that we can enjoy racing without being so aggressive. I’m glad to see this message was well-received as Sunday’s race was much, much better. From the sporting side, we were a little worried there would be big gaps between each rider, as we did not know the performance level of all of the riders. This gap is closer than expected and this resulted in a very tight fight, especially for the podium, on Sunday. Congratulations to all of the girls who made history at the weekend, especially Maria Herrera who won both races, showing her racing speed, experience and motivation.

Of course we cannot ignore the big crashes. about Mia Rusthen, who was injured on Saturday. Our thoughts are with her and her family, and we wish her a full and speedy recovery.

Overall, Dorna, the FIM and JiR have put together a strong championship for the WorldWCR, and we are excited to see how the championship progresses.

The battle for the win in the FIM bLU cRU R3 Cup featured 11 riders

BEST RACE OF THE WEEKEND

Talking of tight races, we cannot ignore the FIM R3 bLU cRU World Cup, where in race two, 11 riders were fighting for the podium until the end! This confirms the level of this championship, and congratulations to the winner, Christian Pucci, who was a local wildcard entry to the race! In fact, it was great to see so many wildcard entries this weekend especially with some of them being so competitive, which shows the value of our distributors’ racing programmes.

We now have a few weeks off before Donington, but the work will not stop as it is important at this time of the year to make sure we can be in the strongest possible position before the season starts to get a lot more busy. Before we race again, our Superbike teams will be in Jerez for the Yamaha Racing Experience, which is a great opportunity to spend time with loyal R1M customers and always a fantastic event.

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