Marino Cruelly Denied Chance to Fight for STK1000 Title at Jerez
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team's Florian Marino suffered from the worst luck imaginable as he attempted to win the 2017 FIM Superstock 1000 European Championship at the final round of the season in Jerez. Trailing the championship leader by just eight points before the weekend, he was taken out by another rider at the very first corner in Sunday's race. He courageously rejoined in last place and charged through the field to cross the line in 20th, securing third overall in the championship after a heartbreaking end to a brilliant season for the 24-year-old. His teammate Roberto Tamburini had been the man to beat in practice but, unfortunately, he was also caught up in the first corner incident during the race, although he recovered superbly to finish in fifth and end the season fourth in the overall standings.
Tamburini showed incredible pace in the sunny conditions around the newly resurfaced 4.423km Circuito de Jerez on Friday, topping both practice sessions and finishing 0.299s clear at the top of the timesheets. The 26-year-old Italian qualified in fifth for Sunday's race, but after a good start, he had to close the throttle and run wide to avoid crashing during the incident that ended his teammate championship hopes. Down in 11th and having lost valuable time to the leading riders, he regrouped and rode brilliantly, scything his way through the pack and showing great pace to finish in fifth at the chequered flag, capping a season that has seen him on the podium three times, in the process securing fourth in the championship standings with 106 points.
Marino arrived at Jerez determined to fight for the title, trailing Michael Ruben Rinaldi by just 8 points, with 25 on offer at the season finale in Jerez. The 24-year-old French rider ended Friday's practice in 2nd, less than three-tenths off the blistering pace of his teammate, and went on to qualify for Sunday's race in the middle of the second row in fifth. When the lights went out he got a good start, but at the very first corner, another rider attempted an impossible move, collecting Marino and his Yamaha R1M in the process, with absolutely nothing the rider from Cannes could do about it. With his championship dreams shattered, he managed to rejoin the race, but in 33rd place, right at the back of the field and 20 seconds behind the rider in 31st. Amazingly, the former Moto2 rider showed incredible fortitude to charge through the field, closing down the huge gap and hunting down riders one by one, while pulling off a number of superb overtakes to cross the line in 20th. It was an unfortunate end to Marino's championship hopes after the French rider had been in incredible form all season, recording five podiums in nine races, but this result meant he ended the season in third overall with 120 points. Check out the full race results and final championship standings.
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team - 5th +7.710s
"The start of the race was not so good, and then when Florian was taken out at the first corner I had to run wide and close the throttle to avoid crashing and I lost a lot of time. I tried to close the gap to the leaders but I was having an issue with the front-end and it kept trying to close on me in the corners. I finished in P5 when I thought I had the pace to fight for victory, but this can happen. It was hotter today than it had been all weekend, so my feeling with the bike was not the same as it had been on Friday and Saturday. Despite these issues, I made a quite good recovery but I am a little bit unhappy. Thanks to all of my team and Yamaha, it has been a good season!"
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team - 20th +39.410
"Overall, it has been a good season, especially when you consider I have spent the last three years recovering from injuries. I felt like my dream of becoming champion was within touching distance. As a team, we have been getting stronger and stronger as the year went on, while most teams have been going the other way. Honestly, I didn't feel under any pressure, I really believed I would win. We kept the pressure one hundred percent on the others in every single session, we were right up there. All the guys from Yamaha and my team worked so hard to give me the best possible bike to go out and win the championship. Everything was going to plan, I built my weekend around the race and knew I had the pace to go and win the title. Therefore, it was heartbreaking what happened, for everyone involved. We have been pushing so hard in every session, in every race and more or less we have been competitive and battling at the front. I felt I could have won at least three races, but I was missing a bit of confidence in myself until about three-quarters of the way through the season when it all just clicked. Unfortunately, someone else decided my championship for me. That is the hardest thing to accept, that I wasn't able to even try and defend all the hard work myself and the team have put in, all because of a stupid move by someone else, but that is racing. I have had worse ends to a season, ending up in hospital, so at least I am still in one piece. I had a great season and I am happy with how it went until today. I can't thank Yamaha enough for how good they have been to me, keeping me in the team and I just wished I could have rewarded them by winning the title."
Pata Yamaha Official STK1000 Team Manager
"We knew that it could be difficult today, trailing the leader by eight points, but the worst thing was not even getting the chance to fight for the title. I am devastated for Florian, he could not have worked harder for this chance and through no fault of his own his dreams of the championship were ruined, but he will come back stronger as he always does. Roberto has had a very good season, he has been a bit unlucky, otherwise, we feel he would have been very much involved in the championship battle. It was a pity he got caught up in the incident at Turn 1 because he lost a lot of time and we really thought he would be fighting for the victory today. This season has been great for the team and I think we deserved the championship!"