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Calatayud Secures Inaugural R3 SuperFinale Pole at Portimão

Calatayud Secures Inaugural R3 SuperFinale Pole at Portimão

18-year-old Spaniard Unai Calatayud starred on Friday to claim pole position in the first edition of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European SuperFinale held at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve, with the front row separated by just 0.248s.

Taking place at the final European round of the WorldSBK season in Portugal, the R3 Superfinale offers the winner a Yamaha-supported ride in the 2023 R3 bLU cRU European Cup, with 25 riders from 12 different countries competing in the inaugural event. Two races are scheduled for Saturday, with 25-points up for grabs in each to decide who comes out on top, while Friday saw the riders aged between 14-20 participate in Free Practice and Qualifying at the 4.6km Portimão circuit.

Local hero David Da Costa (14) led the way during the morning’s 30-minute Free Practice session, as he set a 2:02.622 to head the field by 0.230s from Spaniard Javier Corral Arias (19), with Italian Emiliano Ercolani (17) in third.

With 30 minutes on the clock for Qualifying, Da Costa again set the early pace, but he would become involved in a battle for pole position with Spanish rider Calatayud, despite a red flag early in the session leading to delay. The duo exchanged the top spot on the timesheets several times before Calatayud set a 2:00.877 on his 11th lap to claim the first-ever Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European SuperFinale pole position.

Da Costa responded late on with a 2:01.098 to finish 0.221s behind in second, with Ercolani backing up his pace in the earlier Free Practice session to secure the final spot on the front row, 0.027s further back.

Spaniard Javier Corral Arias heads up the second row, ahead of his compatriot, and the leading female rider, Natalia Rivera Rasel (16), in fifth, with Mohammed Abdalaziz Binladin (14) from Saudi Arabia sixth fastest. The third row consists of Italian Emanuele Cazzaniga (19), Gonzalo Meléndez (14) from Spain, and Brazilian Kaywan Friere Da Costa (19), with Kayla Yaakov (15) from the USA making it six different nationalities in the top ten.

The battle to be crowned the first ever Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European SuperFinale winner kicks off with Race 1 on Saturday at 11:45 am local time (UTC+1), followed by Race 2 at 16:15.

For full Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European SuperFinale Qualifying results, click here.

Unai Catalayud - P1 (2:00.877)

Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European SuperFinale Rider

“It was a tricky qualifying, especially with the red flag meaning we had to stop and start again. Despite this, I had an excellent feeling with my R3 and managed to get into a group with some fast riders in front of me so I could take advantage of the slipstream and set my fastest time. I think it will be close in the race tomorrow, as there are some very fast riders, but I am confident I can battle at the front!”