For the first time this year, rain was forecast throughout the French round and by the time FP1 was underway the track was already drenched. After the delay for the conditions, the bLU cRU riders took to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours, which marked the first time for both Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha’s Alvaro Diaz and Yamaha MS Racing WorldSSP300 Supported Team’s Alan Kroh.
At the end of the morning’s practice Sofuoğlu was fastest of the bLU cRU runners in fourth, ending the day seventh on combined times, with rookie teammate Diaz impressing in 11th. Yamaha MS Racing’s Ton Kawakami and Unai Orradre were also inside the top 30, but couldn’t make a step forward in Saturday’s FP3 session and joined teammate Alan Kroh in the Last Chance Race.
Both Sofuoğlu and Diaz cemented their places into the Tissot Superpole qualifying session, with the Turkish rider once again impressing over a single lap to go fifth fastest, while Spanish rider Diaz was a WorldSSP300 career-best 12th.
In the Last Chance Race, Kawakami stormed to a dominant victory from the second row, with the conditions seeing many make mistakes before a red flag ended proceedings on lap six, while Orradre qualified as the final rider on the main race grids. Kroh unfortunately could not make progress in the race, ending the German youngster’s weekend.
A red flag on the opening lap of Race 1 saw the grid reset, with Sofuoğlu getting a second chance to move forward, after falling to sixth on the first attempt. This time, the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge leader made a strong start and was up to third heading onto the second lap. He made no mistake and retained his third position until the chequered flag.
Brazilian rider Kawakami was on a charge during the first race and by the fifth lap had already made it into the top 15 from the 10th row of the grid. He eventually made it to a P10 finish, taking more important championship points. Yamaha MS Racing teammate and Jerez race-winner Orradre made up several places from the back of the grid to finish 20th. Sadly, Diaz was unable to start the race due to an alternator issue.
Looking to make up for Saturday’s disappointment, Diaz enjoyed a fine performance in Sunday’s race. From 12th, the Spaniard produced a faultless ride as the rain made track conditions increasingly difficult, climbing three positions up to ninth and matching his best WorldSSP300 result.
Once again, Kawakami made an impressive fightback through the field and earned another two points in 14th, with Orradre climbing nearly 20 places to finish agonisingly close to the points in 16th. Sofuoğlu started on the dry tyres as he gambled on conditions improving, and was running in the top 10 before the rain saw him gradually slip down the order, before he pitted to save his R3 GYTR kitted bike from damage.
2020 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge standings
1. Bahattin Sofuoğlu
2. Unai Orradre
3. Ton Kawakami
4. Alvaro Diaz
5. Alan Kroh