Starting Saturday’s race from 12th on the grid, Verdoïa remained in the battle for the final few points-paying positions throughout the first half of the race. However, with eight laps to go a heavy rain shower drenched the Spanish venue, which prompted most of the field to head into the pits.
The 17-year-old, who began his world championship career with the bLU cRU programme in WorldSSP300, in which he was crowned the 2019 R3 bLU cRU Challenge champion, stayed out on slick tyres and waited for the red flag. It eventually came with six laps to go, sealing the French rider’s maiden victory in his debut WorldSSP campaign.
GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s stand-in rider Kyle Smith also starred during the frenetic opening race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. After qualifying seventh, which became sixth due to a penalty ahead, the British rider climbed up to fourth in the dry conditions before taking third as the rain began to fall.
The 2019 FIM Europe Supersport Cup winner left it late to pit and briefly led before the red flag fell. On countback, Smith was classified in third at the finish to pick up a well-earned podium on his return to the series.
Championship leader Andrea Locatelli battled hard to maintain his 100 percent pole position record in qualifying and led through the early stages of Race 1. However, as the torrential rain came down, the Evan Bros Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team dropped to third, which became fourth after taking his pit stop. Any progress for the Italian was halted by the red flag, putting an end to Locatelli’s victory run as he finished fourth.
Kallio Racing Yamaha WorldSSP Supported Team’s Hannes Soomer fought just outside the top 10 positions throughout and ended the Barcelona opener in 13th, with teammate Isaac Vinales, who showed strong pace on Friday and in qualifying, losing out due to the red flag to finish 15th.
GMT94 Yamaha’s Corentin Perolari qualified on the front row in third and challenged Locatelli for the race lead early on. The French rider then found himself in a battle over fourth with teammate Smith, but he too was caught out by the red flag and was classified only 16th.
bLU cRU Yamaha’s Galang Hendra Pratama had a fall early on in the race at Turn 4 and was subsequently sent to the medical centre after reporting shoulder and wrist ligament pain. The Indonesian will be evaluated at a hospital in Barcelona and again at the track tomorrow morning to judge whether or not he can take part in Race 2.
For full Race 1 results, click here.