Yamaha Rockets towards FIM Supersport 300 World Championship double-header Aragón Upset

 

Yamaha-Motorcycle-Logo-2017

For the first of the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship’s double-header at Aragón, the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders showed front-running pace, with Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Unai Orradre just missing out on the podium in both races to remain well in contention for the title.

All five bLU cRU entries enjoyed a promising start to the weekend as they got to grips with the long and undulating Spanish venue. 16-year-old Orradre was fifth fastest on combined times, with Yamaha MS Racing teammates Ton Kawakami and Alan Kroh, as well as Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Bahattin Sofuoğlu all setting lap times within the top 30, which is needed for automatic qualification into the two points-scoring races.

After FP3 on Saturday, Orradre, Sofuoglu and Kawakami secured their top 30 positions, while Kroh and Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha’s Alvaro Diaz narrowly missed out, with the latter just 0.084s away in 32nd, while the German was 37th.

In the Tissot Superpole, Brazil’s Kawakami shot to the top of the timings late in the session, but in the final moments was bumped to third, which still marked his best qualifying since taking pole position at Donington Park last year. Orradre went sixth quickest, as Sofuoğlu put his #54 R3 GYTR kitted bike 18th, although traffic meant he wasn’t able to put together a perfect lap.

With Diaz and Kroh taking part in the Last Chance Race, both were always in contention for a top six position, which was needed to qualify for the main races. In the second half of the 10-lap race, 16-year-old Kroh moved into the lead, holding on for victory as his fellow bLU cRU rider took the chequered flag in fifth.

Ahead of the opening WorldSSP300 race, Orradre was handed a penalty for a tyre pressure infringement, dropping him to the back of the field. The Jerez race-winner then produced an almighty fightback, and by lap four was already inside the points-scoring places. The Spaniard didn’t stop there though and continued his climb, eventually finishing sixth to score important championship points.

Rookie teammate Kroh was also making headway from 27th on the grid, and the youngster crossed the line in 11th to score his first points finish. Kawakami was in the lead battle but a technical issue dropped him out of the race on the second lap. Diaz had an earlier incident and lost the tow from those ahead, seeing him finish 24th, while Sofuoğlu, having set the fastest lap, had a fall at Turn 7 on the eighth lap while in podium contention.

Having set the fastest time in Sunday’s warm-up, Orradre, now taking up his usual grid spot of sixth, jostled for position in the leading group. On the penultimate lap the reigning Spanish Junior Superbike champion moved up to fifth, before gaining one more spot on the final tour to finish just off the podium in fourth. The result sees Orradre lie fourth in the championship, just eight points off the top.

Kawakami also hung onto the leading group throughout the race and eventually picked up his best result of the season in eighth, closing on the top 10 in the riders’ standings. Kroh made another impressive climb through the field in Race 2, finishing just outside the points in 16th, as Diaz improved from the back row to 24th. Sofuoğlu recorded another DNF, and will look to use his front-running pace at Aragón to reignite his title challenge when the series returns to the 5.078 km circuit next weekend.

2020 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge standings

1. Unai Orradre
2. Bahattin Sofuoğlu
3. Ton Kawakami
4. Alvaro Diaz
5. Alan Kroh

 

Unai Orradre: P6 & P4
Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team
“Unfortunately, in the first race I had to go to the back of the grid, but I was able to overtake a lot of riders and fight for the podium. I made small contact with another rider on the last lap but still managed to finish sixth and take some good points for the championship. On Sunday, I was fighting a lot with the front riders. It was the hardest race so far, the pace was really high. I finished fourth which meant I’m still close to the leader in the standings. Next weekend I know we can improve even more. I’d like to thank my team, the Yamaha bLU cRU programme and all of my sponsors, they have helped me a lot to get me to where I am.”

Ton Kawakami: DNF & P8
Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team
“Last weekend was a strong improvement for me. On Friday we had a good feeling with the bike, then in qualifying we made some set-up changes and I was happy with the lap, it was great to be on the front row. I had a good start but I had an issue and had to pull over. We had a new engine for Sunday and in the race I felt very strong. We were following the front group and the pace was very high, so I had to push hard. We’ll aim to improve again next week and try to get on the podium.”

Alan Kroh: P11 & P16
Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team
“We are very happy after last weekend. The team did a great job and I’d like to thank them for everything. I had a good start on Friday, but I couldn’t get a slipstream in FP3 so I went into the Last Chance Race, which I won. The first race was very positive and we took our first championship points. On Sunday, we didn’t have a great start, but I managed to finish 16th. We’ll look to use this experience to be back inside the top 15 next weekend.”

Alvaro Diaz: P24 & P24
Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team
“The weekend was quite a tough one. We had an incident with other riders in both races which meant I couldn’t catch back up. The aim for next weekend is to make another step forward and challenge those ahead. Thank you to my team, sponsors and Yamaha for their continued support.”

Bahattin Sofuoğlu: DNF & DNF
Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team
“The weekend did not start as I wanted, but I did my best to improve. It’s not easy to start from quite far back in the two races, but I felt the pace was good. Unfortunately, I made a mistake and fell in Saturday’s race, but we did a very good lap time in Sunday morning’s Warm Up, which was promising for the second race. I had a good start, but I then had contact with another rider and was out of the race. I think we need to make some changes to the gearing to be more competitive down the straight, but we will aim to solve this so I can catch back up in the championship with a smooth weekend.”

Alberto Barozzi
Yamaha Motor Europe bLU cRU Racing Manager
“Firstly, I’m really proud of the all bLU cRU guys and teams, at Aragón they showed great potential and are constantly improving. It was especially positive to see the five riders make it into both races, this has been a really good step forward. Our R3 GYTR kitted bikes have been a second faster than last year, but unfortunately we suffered on the long straight a little bit. Congratulations to Alan for scoring his first world championship points and Alvaro was close again. Ton and Unai are always very competitive and fighting among the front-runners, so it was good to see that again here. It’s obviously disappointing for Bahattin, who suffered two DNFs when inside the top 10. We now have only a few days to analyse everything and to see where our bLU cRU riders can improve further still. We are ready for another strong result when we return.”

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