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bLU cRU Riders’ Race-Winning Pace Goes Unrewarded in First WorldSSP300 Barcelona Weekend

bLU cRU Riders’ Race-Winning Pace Goes Unrewarded in First WorldSSP300 Barcelona Weekend

For the first time, the FIM Supersport 300 World Championship headed to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last weekend, with the bLU cRU riders all showing impressive pace that ultimately went unrewarded. Bahattin Sofuoğlu’s two top 10 finishes were enough for him to maintain third in the riders’ standings, with Unai Orradre just 13 points behind in fourth.

The weekend began in dry conditions on Friday morning, and Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Orradre, Alan Kroh and Ton Kawakami all set times inside the top 30, as Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Sofuoğlu and Alvaro Diaz were unable to reach their full potential, due to traffic and small errors as they got to grips with the Spanish venue.

Unfortunately, it would turn out to be the only full dry session, as the heavy rain denied the bLU cRU youngsters any chance to further improve in FP2, persisting into Saturday morning’s final practice. That saw Sofuoğlu and Diaz enter the Last Chance Race, needing to finish inside the top six to earn a place on the main race grids.

The Yamaha MS Racing trio pressed on into the Tissot Superpole, where Orradre, Kroh and Kawakami were able to utilise slick tyres for the first time since FP1. Spanish rider Orradre went fifth fastest and was joined on the second row by rookie teammate Kroh, who had led the bLU cRU charge on Friday’s running and qualified an impressive sixth, confirming his recent strong form. Kawakami couldn’t match his earlier pace from first practice and had to settle for 25th.

In the Last Chance Race, Sofuoğlu and Diaz battled in the top six throughout, with the Turkish rider taking a second-place finish, while his Spanish teammate was unfortunate to have an incident at Turn 4 on the sixth lap, which dropped him to 21st and ending his weekend.

Starting from 31st on the Race 1 grid, Sofuoğlu was finally able to show his potential in Barcelona. With the track still wet from an earlier shower, the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge leader made no mistakes and climbed 22 places to finish ninth. Kawakami also made good progress, fighting his way from 25th to sixth on the first lap, eventually finishing 11th as he struggled with the constantly evolving conditions.

Orradre slipped back early on and couldn’t make progress back forward, finishing 20th, while teammate Kroh struggled to match his relative pace in the dry and dropped to 26th.

Temperatures climbed higher on Sunday, which saw the bLU cRU WorldSSP300 riders get plenty of laps in the morning’s Warm Up ahead of the final race of the weekend. The field was more tightly contested and Orradre was quickly into the lead battle, as Sofuoğlu joined the fray after an incredible comeback from the 10th row of the grid.

On the final lap, Sofuoğlu and 16-year-old Orradre moved into the top three but the latter had an incident with the race leader, seeing his fellow bLU cRU rider also lose time while taking evasive action. Sofuoğlu managed to recover to 10th, while Orradre fell to a 26th-place finish.

German rider Kroh was involved with the lead group and showed race-winning pace, but the hotly contested battle saw him finish one place outside the points in 16th, just 2.549s behind the winner. Kawakami was looking to make places from the eighth row, but was involved in a multi-bike collision early on, which saw him drop several seconds behind the pack and the Brazilian crossed the line 28th.  

2020 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge standings
1. Bahattin Sofuoğlu
2. Unai Orradre
3. Ton Kawakami
4. Alan Kroh
5. Alvaro Diaz 

For full Race 1 results, click here.
For full Race 2 results, click here.

Bahattin Sofuoğlu: P9 & P10

Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team

The weekend didn’t start like I’d expected. So throughout the sessions I tried to improve and find the best settings and mindset. I did my best on both races, but we had some misfortune at the end of Sunday’s race. Now we’ll push for a better result at Magny-Cours and try to take the podium I lost last weekend.

Ton Kawakami: P11 & P28

Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team

In qualifying I had a little issue with the bike and could only do one lap, so started 25th. In the first wet race I overtook 20 guys in the first three corners, I had a lot of confidence with the bike. However, halfway through I lost that confidence and lost some positions. It still wasn’t a bad result. In Race 2, I started moving forward but there was a crash ahead which I got caught up in. I was disappointed but now I’m focused for the next races.

Alan Kroh: P26 & P16

Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team

I am happy on one side, but not so much on the final results. I felt good in practice and was P4 in FP1, and then it started raining just before FP2. It’s good to get some practice in the rain as I don’t often get this opportunity. The team did a good job with the set-up and in FP3 I improved my riding on some parts of the circuit. In the Superpole we did a good job, it could’ve been even better, but we were really happy with P6. I didn’t have the feeling with the bike to do a better job in the wet first race, but we know how to improve for the next time. Then in the second race, I had a good start but then we had some difficulty with grip in the front and rear. My aim is to improve in the races and to be right up there in Magny-Cours.

Unai Orradre: P20 & P26

Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team

After quite a difficult Saturday, I tried to find my references and braking points in the Warm Up, and in Race 2 I was able to fight amongst the top positions. On the last lap I broke quite late and made contact with another rider. The stewards decided that in Magny-Cours I will start from the pit lane. I will take the positives from the situation and try to have some good battles next time out.

Alvaro Diaz: DNS & DNS

Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha WorldSSP300 Supported Team

In FP1 we had some issues and because of the rain in FP2 and FP3 we couldn’t improve and so entered the Last Chance Race. We had a good battle, but unfortunately I had an incident and wasn’t able to progress further.

Alberto Barozzi

Yamaha Motor Europe bLU cRU Racing Manager

It has been another exciting race weekend and the bLU cRU boys continue to progress and improve. We are so proud that in the end all of them did a great job. The last two practice sessions were unfortunate for Bahattin and Alvaro, and they were forced to qualify for the main races in the Last Chance Race. Alvaro was unlucky to not join the other bLU cRU riders. It was evident in the races that they had the pace to win, but a combination of factors saw Unai and Bahattin lose out on a podium on Sunday. Alan also showed his potential and Ton was really fast but unfortunate. The race pace and determination was a clear example of the systematic approach of the bLU cRU project, we will regroup and refocus for the next round. Both teams, Yamaha MS Racing and Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha, did an excellent job in supported the riders and setting up the R3 GYTR bikes.