First World Championship Podium for bLU cRU Rider Verdoia in Misano
Galang Hendra Pratama came close in Jerez, but finally it was Andy Verdoïa in Misano who was the first Yamaha R3 bLU cRU rider to finish on the podium this season. The 16-year-old French youngster, riding for the BCD Yamaha MS Racing Team, was involved in a race long, six-way battle for the win that was decided only in the final corner on the very last lap. On the run to the line Verdoïa managed to get the better of his bLU cRU teammate, Galang Hendra, to finish third and claim the final step on the podium. The Indonesian rider followed him home in fourth while Kevin Sabatucci crossed the line in ninth position, after starting from the ninth row of the grid.
While free practice on Friday for the WorldSSP300 riders was held in hot and sunny conditions, the weather would take a turn for the worse ahead of qualifying on Saturday. Superpole for Group A was run in mostly dry conditions, with Galang Hendra comfortably securing his grid slot for the main race, but it was a very different story for Group B, who had to qualify in the wet following a heavy rain shower.
The tricky conditions didn't faze VerdoÏa, who ended qualifying second on combined times to secure a front row start for Sunday's WorldSSP300 race. The same was true for Jacopo Facco, who also secured automatic entry for the race by qualifying inside the top 30, but Sabatucci, Beatriz Neila and Finn de Bruin were forced to fight for the final six grid slots in Saturday afternoon's Last Chance Race, having missed the cut in qualifying.
Held in wet conditions, the Last Chance Race saw 27 riders go head-to-head over 13 laps for the final six places on the grid for Sunday's WorldSSP300 race. Neila's challenge ended early, with the 17-year-old Spanish rider crashing out of second place just three laps into the race. Although she underwent a precautionary medical check following the crash, Neila was uninjured.
The wet conditions meant that de Bruin was missing the confidence needed to fight his way through the field and into the top six, but the Dutchman racked up more valuable experience on his way to finishing the race in 18th position.
One rider who certainly wasn't lacking in confidence was Sabatucci. The Italian started from 22nd position on the grid but had made up 11 places as he crossed the line to finish the opening lap. As the race progressed Sabatucci picked off one rider after another until, finally, he made contact with the leading group. The Italian made his move on the final lap, forcing his way to the front to take the win by the narrowest of margins and secure his place in Sunday's main WorldSSP300 race.
The hot and sunny conditions returned on Sunday as Verdoïa, Galang Hendra, Facco and Sabatucci rolled onto the grid for the WorldSSP300 race. For Facco, a collision and a crash involving three other riders on the opening lap brought his challenge to a premature end, but the remaining bLU cRU trio were in the thick of the action for the whole race.
Verdoïa and Galang Hendra managed to get into a six-rider group that were battling for the win throughout the race, having pulled away from the pursuing pack during the early stages. It proved a frantic battle, with all six riders taking their turn at the front before being overhauled by the group. It was a battle that went down to the wire, with the six main protagonists trying to out brake each other into the final corner before a drag race to the chequered flag. At the line it was Verdoïa who secured the final step on the podium, beating Galang Hendra to third place by the width of a wheel.
It was Verdoïa's first World Championship podium, and only the second by a French rider in the WorldSSP300 class - coincidentally, the first was by former bLu cRU rider, Hugo de Cancellis, in Aragon.
While Verdoïa and Galang Hendra were fighting it out at the front, Sabatucci was busy repeating his performance from the Last Chance Race. The Italian started from 30th position on the grid but fought his way through the field and into the top ten, eventually crossing the line in an impressive 9th place.
BCD Yamaha MS Racing - P3
"What a weekend! It was my first time in Misano, so Friday was all about learning my way around the track and working on my race pace. On Saturday we had rain before qualifying, but I love racing in the wet and I managed to secure my first front row start in a World Championship. The weather was hot and sunny again for the race, and what a race it was. It was tough but, once the leading group had managed to pull a bit of a gap at the front, I just pushed to stay in the top three positions. In the end I finished third and stepped onto the WorldSSP330 podium for the first time, so I'm really happy with that. Big thanks to Yamaha, my team, my sponsors and my family. Now let's get to Donington!"
Galang Hendra Pratama
Semakin Di Depan Biblion MotoXRacing Yamaha - P4
"I had a good weekend in Misano, starting in the first free practice session when, together with the team, I managed to find a good qualifying and race set-up on the bike. Conditions for qualifying were quite tricky; I wanted to push for a time on my final two laps, but then the rain arrived and I wasn't able to improve. Even so, I managed to qualify on the second row, which was important for the race. The race was tough; I got a good start but then, in the second corner, I had a near highside and dropped back to the second group as a result. Lap by lap I reclaimed positions and eventually made contact with the leading group once again. The last lap was a big fight and, once again, I had a big drama in the final corner, which meant I narrowly missed out on the podium, but I am happy enough with fourth and the points. Now I'm looking forward to the next race in Donington."
Team Trasimeno Yamaha - P9
"What can I say about my home race? It was a bit of a strange weekend. We finally found the right way with the bike and we were competitive from the start, but then the weather intervened in qualifying, with the rain making things so difficult for me that I qualified outside the top 30 and had to go into the Last Chance Race. Again it was wet, which made for a hard race, but I managed to fight my through from 22nd on the grid to win and secure a place on the grid for Sunday's race. The main race was incredible. I started from the ninth row of the grid and just went for it, passing riders on every lap and fighting my way through to the front of the second group, eventually finishing ninth. I was running the same pace as the leaders in the race, so I know that if I hadn't made mistakes in qualifying then I'd have been able to run at the front. This is something I need to work on in the next races. I'm happy with the result, but I also know that more was possible with a stronger qualifying performance, so it was a bit of a lost opportunity. Thanks to Yamaha, my team and my parents for this result!"
Semakin Di Depan Biblion MotoXRacing Yamaha - DNF
"The Misano round was a bit up and down for me. I was excited to qualify for the main event, although I was hoping for more in Superpole, as it's important to be on the front four rows if you are to have a good chance in the race. In the race, after a less than perfect start, I was settling into my rhythm on the second lap when I couldn't avoid a crashed bike at turn six and I went down. I'm really happy to be a part of the bLU cRU squad, as it's the best classroom in which to learn how to manage qualifying and the race and how to stay focused. Now it's on to Donington and another chance to get a good result. What is more important than anything is to never give up."
Finn de Bruin
Team Trasimeno Yamaha - DNS
"Misano was a pretty crazy weekend! Free practice went pretty well, but then the changeable weather played a big part in how the rest of the weekend went. It rained in qualifying and I just wasn't confident enough to push for a faster time, which meant that was pretty much the weekend over for me. Congratulations on an incredible job to Andy, Galang and Kevin, who all rode an incredible race. I will be working hard to be up there with them next time out in Donington!"
BCD Yamaha MS Racing - DNS
"The Misano weekend was both good and bad for me. On Friday I had a good feeling with the bike, and I was very close to the times being set by the front runners. Saturday also started well, even if the conditions weren't ideal. I was inside the top six in qualifying but then I stayed out longer than I should of towards the end and was unable to respond when faster laps started being posted, which meant I slipped outside the top 30. The Last Chance Race started well, I felt comfortable sat in second position, but then I crashed at turn six and that was the end of my weekend. I was taken to hospital for a check, which confirmed I hadn't sustained an injury, so I can get back to training hard for Donington, where I will give the maximum once again."
Yamaha Motor Europe Road Racing Supervisor
"It has been another positive weekend for the bLU cRU squad. It was Andy's first WorldSSP300 podium and the first for a bLU cRU rider this season. It was an exciting last corner, with Galang pushed out of the battle for second but finishing fourth by just a breath. To be honest, the final corner on the last lap always provides drama and sometimes the riders are over the sporting limit, as was the case here. Kevin scored his first championship points of the season after doing a really good job coming through from the back of the grid, overtaking more than 20 riders in the process. Unfortunately, Jacopo was hit by another rider on the opening lap and any chance of a good result for him ended in the gravel. I'm confident that Bea and Finn will have more luck at the next race and make it through to the main event. Overall, we are very proud of our young bLU cRU riders, who have worked hard to meet the targets set by the teams and out bLU cRU advisors, such as Joey Litjens, and have grown race by race. In one week we'll be back on track at Donington Park where, once again our riders can show their progression aboard our R3 GYTR, which has proved extremely competitive this season. We are ready!"