Yamaha’s bLU cRU programme is a platform to support the next generation of young riding talent in both road and off-road racing. The platform creates a professional environment that is used to encourage, nurture and build tomorrow’s racing stars through the guidance and unparalleled experience of the Yamaha Racing world.
The bLU cRU platform is also represented at the pinnacle of each global racing discipline contested by Yamaha. Yamaha Racing’s top Official riders in MXGP, Enduro, Dakar, WorldSBK, WorldSSP and Endurance have the responsibility of being bLU cRU Ambassadors. These elite racers stand as an example for the young racing generation of tomorrow, upholding key values for racing and manufacturer representation, including performance, education, dedication, respect and health and fitness. Their spirit of success and behaviour in the eyes of both the media and the racing fans sets the standard for the bLU cRU generation of tomorrow.
On the road-racing side of the project, the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge is a truly unique scheme designed to identify, nurture, and develop the best young riding talent from around the world, providing a clear career path for them to fulfil their dreams on the world stage. Starting in 2017, six riders were selected to compete in the 2017 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship as a part of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge. The first year of the project saw it deliver on its potential, with 20-year-old Italian Alfonso Coppola winning the challenge and just missing out on the overall championship by one point as all six bLU cRU riders impressed throughout the season.
The 2017 bLU cRU Masterclass was an exclusive event that brought together a group of bright young Yamaha Racing talents from both on and off-road racing disciplines. The event ran to a schedule that has been mindfully designed to encourage, nurture and develop aspiring professional riders. It also offered key personnel from Yamaha Motor Europe, and the already acclaimed bLU cRU Ambassadors that were in attendance, the chance to observe the promising young riders for more than just their talent and flair on a motorcycle.
In the road racing section of the Masterclass, 11 of the best performing riders in their national R3 Cups got the chance to showcase their potential at the first Yamaha R3 Masterclass to Yamaha Motor Europe's bLU cRU Racing Manager Alberto Barozzi and bLU cRU Ambassadors David Checa & Niccolò Canepa from the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team, GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Federico Caricasulo and winner of the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, Alfonso Coppola. The Masterclass allowed the riders to demonstrate not just their ability on track, but also the qualities that Yamaha look for in a rider away from the track, such as the ability to learn, how they work with their team, their attitude, and much more.
From these 11, five were selected to join Galang Hendra Pratama in the WorldSSP300 Championship onboard a Yamaha YZF-R3 in 2018 after the Indonesian rider impressed in two wildcard appearances this season, including his stunning victory at the last round in Jerez. The five riders selected were Luca Bernardi (16) from Italy, Dutch riders Dennis Koopman (20) and Joep Overbeeke (18), Notis Papapavlou (17) from Greece and Frenchman Hugo de Cancellis (16). These six will benefit from the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge rider package, dedicated to supporting young riders in the international racing environment. This includes racing kit parts, a race service support at the track, a full paddock clothing kit and much more. The riders will participate in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge within the championship, with the top rider at the end of the season moving up the racing pyramid with an official Yamaha supported ride in a higher class the following year, just as the inaugural winner Coppola will do in 2018. It is not the end of the road for those who did not make the cut for the 2018 season, as they will compete in their national R3 Cups next year, with another chance to impress and be invited back to the 2018 Yamaha R3 Masterclass.