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Sandro Cortese: “My Dream is to Help Develop the Next Generation of German Riders”

Sandro Cortese: “My Dream is to Help Develop the Next Generation of German Riders”

Sandro Cortese, former Moto3 & WorldSSP Champion, talks to about his role as a bLU cRU ambassador for the R3 German Cup and his new venture with Keifer Racing, which aims to help develop young Yamaha riders within the IDM.

How did you become a bLU cRU ambassador for Yamaha?
“I moved to Yamaha later in my career when Kallio Racing approached me to see if I wanted to ride in their WorldSSP team. After a couple of tests, I knew it was the right path for me. I won the championship in 2018 and moved up to WorldSBK with the GRT Yamaha Team, and had a strong first season. I moved to a different team for 2020, but sadly, an accident at Portimao effectively ended my riding career. When this happened, Yamaha Germany got in touch and asked if I would be interested in helping to coach the young riders in the R3 Cup. I immediately said, “Yes!” It has always been my dream to help develop the next generation of German riders.”

What was your first year like as a bLU cRU ambassador?
“It was a real challenge to go from a rider to a teacher! I had been racing at the top level, and suddenly I was working with riders who were right at the start of their career. I found the best method was to start from scratch and try and work out what works best with every rider. One of the critical things I learned is that you have to be very calm and patient as a teacher. Younger riders need time to understand what it means to be fast.”

In 2022, you will continue as a bLU cRU ambassador, but you also have a new project with Yamaha & Keifer Racing?
“One of my biggest frustrations last year was watching talented riders from the R3 Cup, who did not make it into the European Cup, move to different manufacturers to race in the IDM. So we wanted to create a platform for young riders to continue racing with Yamaha in the German championship.

The idea this year, with Yamaha support, is that Kiefer Racing will now have a team in the IDM Supersport 600 and Supersport 300 categories to allow riders that impress us in the German R3 bLU cRU Cup the chance to progress to the next step at the national level in Germany. Honestly, it is incredible what Kiefer and Yamaha are doing; they are giving young, talented, German riders the chance to move up to the SSP330 class in the IDM with the full support of a World Championship level team.

A great example of how this new project with Kiefer can succeed is that Michel-Caspar Wieth, who came fourth in the German R3 Cup last year, will now ride for the Kiefer Team in the Supersport 300 category in the IDM. I think it is crucial to have this intermediate step before the riders move up to the R3 European Cup or the world stage because it gives them the extra time it takes for them to learn everything they need to be successful.”

How exactly do you work with the riders to help them develop?
“I try to pick up three or four riders per practice session and analyse their style, racing lines, technique, etc. After the session, I will sit with the rider, watch back video of them on track and go through what they can improve. It is important to take small steps, as sometimes giving a rider too much information or asking them to change too much at once can be confusing. The idea is to try and help the riders focus on constant improvement by making small changes that, over time, add up to make a big difference.”

What has been the most satisfying thing about working with the bLU cRU?
“The most satisfying thing is when you tell a rider something, then you see them make a change in the very next practice, and you can see the difference it makes. This kind of thing makes me happy, as it shows they have been listening and have taken on board what you had to say, but also that they have the hunger to improve. The desire to improve is essential. I have seen many riders with bags of talent over my career but without the right attitude. I think this is something that the bLU cRU programme does so well; it is not just about making the riders faster on track, but helping them with every aspect of racing off-track as well.”

How important do you think the bLU cRU programme is to help create the next generation of champions?
“I think the bLU cRU programme is essential for young riders. I am always telling the riders I work with that I wish this programme existed when I was young. When I started my career, you did not have an equal playing field to show your talent. Every team had a different budget, different bikes, different levels of support, and often it came down to who had the most money. With the bLU cRU programme, it is completely different. The budget is the same for everyone; everyone is on the same machinery and has the same support. We provide everything they need to go racing, and everyone gets the same treatment. Therefore, everybody gets the same opportunity to showcase their talent. Of course, we teach the riders how to be fast, but we also emphasise how to adapt to new tracks, understand the bike, give the team feedback, and mentally and physically prepare for a race weekend. The fact that there is now a structured pathway from the national level to the world stage, with Yamaha support on every step of the journey is incredible.”

What advice would you give to any young riders?
Join a bLU cRU cup! Seriously, this platform gives young riders the support and everything they need at the start of their careers, all the way through to the world stage. I believe life is all about taking the talent you have and making the most of it, and the support riders receive through the bLU cRU programme gives them the perfect opportunity to do just that.”