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Yamaha Retain WorldSBK Championship Lead, as 60th Anniversary Livery Breaks Covers at Barcelona and Bol D’or

Yamaha Retain WorldSBK Championship Lead, as 60th Anniversary Livery Breaks Covers at Barcelona and Bol D’or

Yamaha retained its FIM Superbike World Championship lead in the riders’, manufacturers’ and teams’ standings after an eventful Barcelona round, which saw the Yamaha R1 bikes adorning the famous red and white liveries in celebration of Yamaha’s 60 years of Grand Prix motorcycle road racing.

The iconic colours were also in action during the 2021 FIM Endurance World Championship’s third round, the Bol D’or at Le Castellet, while there was more success for Yamaha in the FIM Supersport World Championship and FIM Supersport 300 World Championship classes at Barcelona.

Andrea Dosoli, Yamaha Motor Europe’s Road Racing Manager, reflected on last weekend, which also saw the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup champion crowned in Spain.

“It has been an emotional weekend, as we have celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Grand Prix racing for Yamaha. It’s been a long journey since our first race in France in 1961, with a lot of success and we’ve been able to transfer our know-how from this experience into our product line-up. We were able to mark this occasion not only in Barcelona but also at Le Castellet with some special liveries. It turned out to be very emotional and we got a lot of interest from it. Our WorldSBK teams, Pata Yamaha and GRT Yamaha, had these liveries, but unfortunately GMT94 Yamaha in WorldSSP couldn’t use it because of a rider injury. We thank everyone who made this happen.

“We could not celebrate good results on-track with these liveries, due to some unlucky circumstances, but we keep inside the good memories from having the iconic red and white colours back in action.”

In WorldSBK, Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK’s Toprak Razgatlıoğlu bounced back from the electrical issue that saw him retire from the lead in Saturday’s wet race, to take a pair of second-place finishes on Sunday to leave the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya with a slim one-point lead in the riders’ standings.

“For sure, if we see the first race result, we are disappointed with the opportunity lost. He was clearly on his way to win the race, before being forced to stop due to an electrical fault, something no one expected that showed that although we’ve made a huge step forward, there are some areas where we need to improve. 

“There are some positives from that race though, because Toprak has struggled in the wet in the past, but clearly he was able to improve on this. He’s made yet another step in his maturity as a rider, and I don’t see any weakness in Toprak anymore. He can win in any condition and on any track, and we’re looking forward to seeing the final few rounds. On Sunday, he was very unlucky in the SPRC, showing really good pace but with the shortened race due to the red flag he didn’t have time to overtake the leader. He did an incredible job in Race 2, fighting with Rinaldi until the tyre dropped off. He did well to maintain the second position and he was the best rider on those tyres.”

Elsewhere, Razgatlıoğlu’s 2021 rookie teammate Andrea Locatelli overcame a difficult Race 1 and Superpole Race to claim another top-five finish in Race 2. GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team’s Garrett Gerloff enjoyed solid results on Sunday, crossing the line in eighth (SPRC) and seventh (Race 2), having fallen on the sighting lap in Race 1.

Teammate Kohta Nozane impressed in the wet to finish 11th in the opener, while he scored his best feature race result on Sunday in 10th. The Japanese rider was also in the lead battle early in the SPRC but was involved in an unavoidable incident. GIL Motorsport Yamaha’s  Christophe Ponsson made a step forward as well, with ninth in the SPRC – his first top 10 finish - and 13th in Race 2.

“It has been a positive weekend for Locatelli, particularly on Sunday. He has shown that he closed the gap to the leader and I have to say congratulations to him for his Race 2 performance. We saw him struggle a little bit in the wet on Saturday, but this is to be expected as he has practically no experience with the bike in these conditions, so I’m sure he will be able to improve this part of his overall package going forwards.

“Very unlucky Saturday for Garrett, who crashed on the sighting lap so could not show his performance in the wet, conditions where he’s been fast in the past. On Sunday, he’s done two solid races that are promising for the next event. We are all really happy to see the improvements made by Kohta, it’s been his best results in WorldSBK. It proves that on a track he’s more familiar with – he tested here - he can perform well. The performance shown in the wet, in the SPRC and Race 2, where he finished with a 17-second gap to the front proves he has talent. He was in a great position in the SPRC and challenging with the front group before an incident that wasn’t his fault. It was also nice to see Christophe make another step in the right way, I must congratulate him for a good SPRC, where he achieved his best result.”

It was a disappointing result for the Yamalube YART Yamaha EWC team in the FIM EWC’s visit to Circuit Paul Ricard, who encountered a technical issue in the early hours of Sunday morning of the Bol D’Or while leading the race. The Moto Ain team were able to take their first podium after finishing an impressive second with the Yamaha R1 bike.

“The weekend has been very busy! We had the iconic Bol D’Or running at Paul Ricard. It was not the end we expected from the YART Yamaha team, who were leading the race in the night until the 12th hour when they had to give up due to a technical issue. Of course, it’s disappointing but we know that the team and our riders are the quickest on the track. For next year, we need to work a bit on the reliability, but with Yamaha leading the manufacturers’ championship we know that our teams and the R1 is a competitive package. I really would like to congratulate Moto Ain who scored a fantastic second place fiinish. It was a dramatic race, the stress was incredible on all of the engines, but it was nice to see Yamaha make up five of the top six EWC finishers.”

There was more thrilling racing in WorldSSP, with ParkinGO Yamaha’s Manuel Gonzalez taking pole position, second in Race 1 and a superb Sunday victory, while Randy Krummenacher took his first win since his return after a dominant performance on Saturday. Ten Kate Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Dominique Aegerter was absent due to other commitments, but title rival - Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Steven Odendaal – was unable to make up as many points after a difficult weekend.

“In World Supersport, we’ve seen a very challenging Race 1 with the variable weather conditions. At the end, it was nice to see the experience of Krummenacher and the fantastic job by the CM Racing Team making the difference. He took the best for this opportunity and he used this to achieve a great win. Let me mention the pole-setter, Manuel Gonzalez, who was leading Race 1 before the pit stop, but lost some time in the tyre change. Once he was back, he was able to recover a lot of positions, from outside the top 10 to P2, showing his fighting spirit and motivation. Then, in Race 2 it was a very nice race to watch, and congratulations to Manuel, who lost a few seconds in the final laps, but was able to overtake an experienced rider in the last moments to win.”

Barcelona also saw the first victory of the season for bLU cRU’s Bahattin Sofuoğlu; the Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team rider backing up his second-place finish in Race 1 with a narrow Race 2 win. Teammate and Yamaha bLU cRU graduate Alvaro Diaz came close to the victory on Sunday, taking his first-ever WorldSSP300 podium in second, while another beneficiary of Yamaha’s bLU cRU program, Brazilian Ton Kawakami, scored his maiden top-three finish in third on Saturday.

“Honestly, a good weekend for our boys in the Supersport 300 class. After some difficult races, where Bahattin has shown the potential to fight for wins, he finally got his maiden victory of the season in Race 2, backed up with a very nice second place finish in Race 1. Great for him, we never doubted his abilities and talent, so we’re happy to see him get what he deserves. Also, great for Alvaro Diaz, who finished second on Sunday, and Ton Kawakami, who got his first podium in the championship. Both of these were part of our bLU cRU line-up last year and it shows how well this program is working.”


Spain’s Iker Garcia Abella was crowned the first-ever Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup champion, after just edging title rival Julian Giral in a gripping final weekend, which also witnessed another victory for Britain’s Fenton Harrison Seabright in the wet conditions.

“We arrived in Barcelona with five riders still with the potential of becoming the first Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup champion. The weather didn’t help for Race 2, which was in the wet, but all the riders did a great job, so I must congratulate all of the kids who showed great maturity. A special congratulations goes to Iker Garcia Abella, who won Race 1 and managed very well the second race to win the title. It was also a good end to the season for Fenton, who showed that he’s very strong in the wet conditions to take the final victory. We’re now looking forward to the 2022 season. This year has generated a lot of interest and soon registration will open for youngsters to be a part of our second edition. I’d like to thank everyone involved in this successful first season, Gianluca Montiron, all the Yamaha staff and Alberto Barozzi for making this happen.” 

Next up for the WorldSBK paddock will be Jerez this weekend, which will also feature the WorldSSP and WorldSSP300 classes, while the FIM EWC finale will take place in Czech Republic for the 8 Hours of Most (9 October).