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Yamaha bLU cRU WorldSSP Recruit Andy Verdoïa Aiming High in 2020

Yamaha bLU cRU WorldSSP Recruit Andy Verdoïa Aiming High in 2020

It was a stellar debut FIM Supersport 300 World Championship season for Yamaha bLU cRU star Andy Verdoïa, who finished as the highest placed rookie with fourth in the 2019 riders’ championship. Verdoïa was also the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner, which secured him a step up in class and a ride with the newly formed Yamaha bLU cRU WorldSSP by MS Racing team.

The French rider from Nice impressed with his consistency, finishing inside the top 10 in eight of the nine rounds, regularly fighting for victories and stepping onto the podium at both Misano and Donington Park. Despite being just 17 years old, Verdoïa not only rides with maturity, but has shown through his bLU cRU training that he’s always keen to learn and improve.

Alongside his racing activities last year, Verdoïa was invited to the Yamaha VR46 Master Camp event, receiving training and advice from some of Yamaha’s top professional racers, including Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi. 

Speaking on his 2019 season, Verdoïa explained his approach: “I believe I was consistent last year because I was not only training on the bike but also in the gym, cycling and other activities. On top of that, I was working closely with the bLU cRU coaching team to learn more and getting opportunities like the VR46 Master Camp and Yamaha bLU cRU Masterclass is super important. 

“Being with Yamaha professionals at the Yamaha bLU cRU Masterclass and then the VR46 Master Camp event in Tavullia last year really helped me a lot, especially the Master Camp because it took place early in the championship. You understand what it takes to be a professional rider at world championship level, not just on the track but in all aspects. After that, I felt my riding improve as well as my consistency on the bike.” 

Andy Verdoia

During last season, Verdoïa always had an eye on WorldSSP in 2020 and so began testing on the 600cc Yamaha R6 early in the year. This allowed him to get more comfortable on the bike, adapting his riding style and ensuring he was best prepared for the step up.

“I already knew that my goal was to move up to the 600 for this year very early last season and, thanks to Yamaha expanding their bLU cRU project in 2020, I was lucky enough to get the chance to do exactly that,” Verdoïa said. “Obviously you have to train harder because you cannot ride the same way you would on the 300. My Yamaha bLU cRU team-mate Galang [Hendra Pratama] helped a lot too because he’s more aggressive on the bike, which is what you need when riding the R6. It’s good also as we’re able to share data and learn from each other, which helps find those extra few tenths of a second.”

Over the winter in preparation for his WorldSSP debut, Verdoïa has continued to ramp up his training, working with a personal coach on his physical fitness and with the bLU cRU coaching staff on his riding. The French youngster took maximum advantage of the Yamaha bLU cRU program, which not only provided him with training objectives courtesy of the coaching team but also gave him access to professional advice and support from Yamaha's bLU cRU ambassadors, such as WorldSBK rider Michael van der Mark, and the experienced GMT94 Yamaha WorldSSP squad.

“Because you’re not on the bike every week over winter, you have to ensure you’re still fit and healthy when you're not riding,” Verdoïa continued. “I took part in five tests on the 600, as well as two with the Supersport World Championship bike. It wasn’t too difficult to get up to speed, but that last tenth is tough to find. That’s why it’s great to have the support from the bLU cRU coaching staff as well as that of my personal coach Sébastien Gimbert.

Lukey Heights

Around a week before the Philip Island official test, Verdoïa was forced to undergo an operation on his arm. Despite this, the French youngster used the two-day event to regain confidence on the bike: “Other than some aches after quite a lot of laps, my arm actually didn’t feel too bad. I knew I was ready, and my goal was just to make it to the finish.”

It would be Verdoïa's first-time racing at Philip Island, so not only was he learning a WorldSSP race weekend, on a new bike, but he’d also be doing so at an unfamiliar venue. But how did that change his approach?

“Me, Galang and bLU cRU coach Joey Litjens walked the track a couple of times together, going through each corner step-by-step. You have to remember that it was also the team’s first race, so we were all learning together and taking advice off the experienced GMT94 Yamaha team. It’s obviously totally different to what you see on TV! It was really important to compare data between myself and my teammate. You can’t just try and do it alone, it is a team effort.

“The track itself is actually not that difficult to ride,” Verdoïa said about the 12-turn 4.445 km Grand Prix circuit. “It’s not so easy though to find that extra few tenths, particularly at the end of the lap. It’s quite fast and flowing, so if you lose a little bit in one corner it can quickly cost you a couple of tenths over the next few turns.”

Lukey Heights

During the opening round in Australia the following weekend, Verdoïa was making clear progress and after a wet opening practice session, the #25 rider was comfortably inside the top 20 during his FP2 and FP3 runs on the new slick tyres. 

After improving his time further in qualifying, Verdoïa enjoyed a measured ride to finish 15th and pick up his first WorldSSP point on debut.  

“My first goal for this season was to score a point, so to achieve this at the first round, sat at a track I hadn't seen before, never mind raced at, was great for me, the team for Yamaha and the whole bLU cRU program. I’m still going to be learning the bike throughout this whole season, so it’s a good starting point and more importantly, we got to the finish without any issues. As I said, to be fast isn’t too difficult, but to be really quick over a whole race is the hard part.

“Now it’s time to improve steadily. I don’t have a big goal for this season, but I want to be in amongst the front-runners as soon as I can. The competition at this level is very tough, but hopefully, we can break into the top 10 on occasions. First, I must improve, then we’ll try to challenge for good results.”

Follow Yamaha bLU cRU WorldSSP by MS Racing rider Andy Verdoïa’s 2020 WorldSSP season on, and keep up to date via his Instagram, Facebook page and Twitter