Yamaha Motor Europe is pleased to announce the names of the six riders selected to contest the 2019 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, which will be fought out over the 9 rounds of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. The best riders from the national R3 championships in Italy, Spain, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands underwent a rigorous selection process, culminating in the annual bLU cRU Masterclass in Latina, Italy. Of the six riders selected, five will be making their full-time debut on the world stage. Indonesian rider Galang Hendra Pratama (19), who won the WorldSSP300 race in Brno on his way to finishing top ten in the 2018 championship, will remain with the bLU cRU project for a second season and will be joined by Italians Kevin Sabatucci (19) and Jacopo Facco (18), Andy Verdoia (16) from France, Finn de Bruin (18) from the Netherlands and Spain’s Beatriz Neila (16), the first female bLU cRU challenge rider.
The Yamaha bLU cRU project is a unique scheme designed to identify and then develop and nurture young talent from around the world. The project, which started in 2015 for off-road riders and then expanded into road racing in 2017, provides a clear progression path for young riders that can take them from their first steps on the world stage to the very pinnacle of two-wheeled motorsport, all within Yamaha’s existing racing structure.
The first hurdle the aspiring world champions have to overcome is the selection process that takes place during the annual bLU cRU Masterclass, which this year was held in Latina, Italy under the watchful eyes of Yamaha Motor Europe’s bLU cRU Racing Manager, Alberto Barozzi, and bLU cRU Ambassadors Michael van der Mark, from the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK Team and Niccolo Canepa, from the YART Yamaha Official EWC Team. The bLU cRU Masterclass allowed the riders to demonstrate not just their ability on track, but also the qualities that Yamaha look for in a rider away from the racetrack, such as the ability to learn, how they work with their team, their attitude, and much more.
The six riders selected will benefit from the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge rider package, dedicated to supporting young riders as they take on the challenge of contesting the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship. This includes racing kit parts, race service support at the track, a full paddock clothing kit and much more. But the ultimate support comes only at the end of the season, with the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge rider who finishes highest in the championship at the end of the year moving up the racing pyramid the following season, with an official Yamaha supported ride in a higher class.
The FIM Supersport 300 World Championship will be contested over 9 rounds in 2019, with the final race taking place in Qatar as the series heads beyond Europe for the first time in its history. Due to its popularity the format of the championship has also been revised for 2019, with participants split into two groups for both free practice and qualifying.
At the end of qualifying the top 30 on combined times will make up the grid for Sunday’s race. Riders qualifying outside if the top 30 will take place in a ‘last chance’ race on Saturday afternoon, with the top six finishers securing a place on the grid for Sunday’s main race.
Yamaha Motor Europe bLU cRU Racing Manager
“After two intense years our bLU cRU project is growing in a positive way, which is only possible because of the incredible work done behind the scenes by our Yamaha distributors and their race organisers. Our project has gone from strength to strength since we made our road racing debut in 2017 and I think this year we will continue our upward trajectory and witness the most closely contested Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge yet!
“I have high hopes for the six riders, all of whom participated in a rigorous selection process, with the Yamaha Motor Europe Racing Committee and the bLU cRU Ambassadors analysing in extreme detail every aspect of the riders’ skills before making their selection for the coming season. Together with our selected bLU cRU teams and our technical partners, we will provide the necessary support as the riders embark on this new challenge, sharing the experience we have to ensure that all of them are given the opportunity to realise their full potential aboard the new Yamaha R3.
“The standard at this year’s bLU cRU Masterclass was extremely high, but I am confident that we have selected the six best riders from what was a very talented field. Those that weren’t selected this time around will continue to race successfully in their respective national R3 championships and I hope we will see them back on the bLU cRU Masterclass at the end if 2019. To everyone I wish the very best of luck for the coming season.”