Home Hero Koopman Secures First bLU cRU Point of 2018 at Assen
At Round 2 of the 2018 Supersport 300 World Championship in Assen, local hero Dennis Koopman secured the first point of the season for the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders after battling to a superb 15th-place finish. Hugo de Cancellis stormed from 32nd on the grid to finish in 16th, with Joep Overbeeke - also riding at his home round - crossing the line in 20th after fighting through the field from 29th on the grid. Galang Hendra Pratama showed incredible pace all weekend and was the only bLU cRU rider to make it through to SP2 where he set the 10th best time. Unfortunately, he crashed out during the race while battling in the leading group, thankfully escaping any major injury. Luca Bernardi also impressed throughout the weekend and qualified in 24th but was forced to retire during the race on lap 4 due to a technical issue.
Glorious sunshine and temperatures ranging from 23°C-27°C greeted the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders all weekend at the TT Circuit Assen for Round 2 of the WorldSSP Championship and all five took their chance to impress at the historic track after new technical regulations were introduced to level the playing field.
Dennis Koopman (Yamaha Pata | Semakin di Depan | GRT Team) leaves Assen leading the charge in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge having scored the first point of 2018. The 21-year-old Dutch rider - son of well-known 50cc/80cc/125cc GP rider Hans Koopman - used Friday to find a good setup with his Yamaha R3 around his home circuit, ending the day in 22nd overall. In SP1 he qualified in 25th after setting a 1:53.454 but didn't get the best of starts during the race. Getting his head down and using his local knowledge to his advantage, he rode superbly during the race. Involved in a race-long battle, he timed it superbly out of the final chicane to cross the line in 15th and secure his first WorldSSP Championship point which sees him 21st in the overall standings.
16-year-old French rider Hugo de Cancellis (Yamaha Pata | Toth - YART Team) ended Friday's practice in 30th and qualified in 32nd on the grid for Sunday's race with a 1:54.323. The hard work with his team to find a good setup for the race paid off, as he produced a stunning ride when the lights went out. Charging through the field he made up 16 places to finish in 16th, just 0.352s behind Koopman, just missing out on a points-scoring finish himself after a stunning race.
Joep Overbeeke (Yamaha Pata | Trasimeno Team) was another bLU cRU rider relishing the chance to race at his home round. He struggled to find the correct rear spring setup during practice and qualifying that would allow him to attack the TT Circuit Assen as he would like on his Yamaha R3. Ending Friday in 33rd overall, the 18-year-old Dutch rider qualified in 29th after setting a 1:54.116 in SP1. A breakthrough in his setup during Warm Up meant he felt confident for the race, rightly so as it turned out. After not having the best of starts, he carved his way past a number of riders to cross the line in 20th.
Sadly, it was not to be Galang Hendra Pratama's (Yamaha Pata | Semakin di Depan | Biblion Motoxracing Team) weekend. The leading bLU cRU rider at the opening round in Aragon impressed once again, showing sensational pace throughout the weekend. The 19-year-old Indonesian led the way for all the Yamaha riders on Friday, despite it being his first visit to the TT Circuit Assen, as he set a 1:51.860 on his R3 to finish free practice in 8th, just 0.973s off top spot. Making it through to SP2 automatically, he was the quickest Yamaha rider once again as he set the tenth fastest time during the 15-minute session with a 1:52.184, but was later penalised three grid positions for riding slowly on the racing line. This meant he started the race from 13th but immediately, he was involved in the battle with the leading group, displaying tremendous skill to stay with them and pushing at the absolute limit. Unfortunately, in his efforts to stick with the leading riders, he pushed just that little bit too hard and crashed out on lap 4 at Turn 5 after contact with another rider. It was a nasty looking high-speed crash and after checks at the Medical Centre, he went to the local Hospital for further assessment but, luckily, it was revealed he had escaped with just bruising to his left shoulder and a mild concussion and he will be back to full fitness by Imola.
Luca Bernardi (Yamaha Pata | Trasimeno Team) was another bLU cRU rider to impress, even if the weekend did not end in the way he would have liked. The 16-year-old Italian was 28th overall after Friday's practice but improved by over 0.5s in SP1 to qualify in 24th with a 1:53.393. In Sunday's race, he fought back well after dropping down to 33rd by the end of the first lap. He made up seven places and crossed the line in 26th at the end of lap 3 but then, unfortunately for the young Italian, he was forced to retire after an issue with his bike on the following lap.
After an extremely positive weekend, that saw two Yamaha R3s finish in the top ten thanks to Manuel Gonzalez (Pertantina Almeria BCD Junior Team by MS) and Maria Herrera (BCD Yamaha MS Racing), who crossed the line in ninth and tenth respectively. All five Yamaha bLU cRU Challenge riders return to action for Round 3 of the 2018 WorldSSP300 Championship at Imola on the 11th-13th of May. Check out the results from the WorldSSP300 race at Assen.
2018 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge Rider - 15th +30.601s
"The first free practices were okay. It was faster than last year and I focused on building my pace on Friday. Qualifying was more difficult, I was in the wrong group and the bike was not really working out for me. The feeling was different with my setup, which was maybe because of the wind. The race started not so good! I had a pretty bad start but I started to pick up some places and then I progressed through the field and ended up in 15th. I am happy to have scored a point and I now I am looking forward to Imola."
Hugo de Cancellis
2018 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge Rider - 16th +30.953s
"I would to thank everyone thank everyone involved with the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, my team, and my partners Z & F Grand Prix School, Integral2Roues, plus of course my sponsors Shark and Furygan, for this opportunity. My team worked really hard all weekend. Practice was tricky and I qualified in 32nd but I had lots of fun during the race with my Yamaha R3, which allowed me to finish in 16th but I could have finished in 14th. Now I will focus on the next race in Imola!"
2018 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge Rider - 20th +52.231s
"The first practice was difficult because I tried a new spring and it was too hard. The front end was sliding over the bumps. In the second session was also very difficult. This time we tried a new spring, but this time it was too soft. In SP1 I went for a spring in-between the two, but it was still not great. So, we made a setup change for Warm Up and it was much better. In the race, I had a really bad start but the first two or three corners I made up six places I think. I stayed with the group for a bit, but I could not stick with them on the straights but in the corners I had good speed and I managed to finish in 20th, which from 29th on the grid, I am happy with. I have never been to Imola before, but I like the track on the PlayStation! !t looks like a rollercoaster and I love tracks like that, so I cannot wait!"
Galang Hendra Pratama
2018 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge Rider - DNF
"I had started well on Friday and made it into SP2 which was good. I qualified in tenth and had a good setup with my bike in Warm Up. Obviously, I am very disappointed to crash out of the race but I was lucky to escape any serious injury as it was a high-speed crash. I am sorry to my team and all my fans. I was pushing right on the limit to try and keep up with the leading group when it happened but I will try and take the positives from the weekend and learn from this experience. I am determined to come back stronger in Imola."
2018 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge Rider - DNF
"I've gained a lot of experience this weekend and I'm happy with my team and Yamaha despite the DNF during the race. We worked hard in practice and qualifying to try and match the pace of the other bikes, but it was tough, so now I look forward to fighting back in Imola."
Yamaha bLU cRU Racing Manager
"It has been an encouraging weekend at the TT Circuit Assen! Our bLU cRU riders have done their best, as always, to fight for the best result possible. For most of them, it was their first time at the 'Cathedral of Speed' in Assen but they all showcased their skills and demonstrated excellent progression, thanks in no small part to special coach Joy Litjens (R3 bLU cRU Cup | NL Coordinator) who spent the whole weekend with them imparting his passion and knowledge. The former Dutch rider took them on the Track Walk to teach them the best racing line and, for sure, it was a great learning experience for them having him around. I am sorry for Galang Hendra, who showed such good pace but unfortunately crashed during the race on the third lap after contact with another rider. We were worried because it was a big crash but thankfully, the medical checks showed he was okay. Also for Luca with his DNF due to an electrical problem.
Another great moment of the weekend was to welcome our special guests from the Dutch R3 bLU cRU Cup, who got the opportunity to see inside the Yamaha racing world and spent time with the WorldSBK, WorldSSP, and WorldSSP300 teams, giving the next racing generation a truly unique experience.
We are confident heading into the next round at Imola that we can build on the encouraging progress the boys have shown so far this season and show their full potential! A bLU cRU storm is on its way!"