For the first time, WorldSSP300 visited Circuito Estoril for the final double-header of the coronavirus-affected season. On the new track, the bLU cRU riders found the limits of both the circuit and their R3 GYTR kitted bikes and by the end of the first day it was 2020 rookie Alvaro Diaz who was fastest of the Yamaha youngsters in fifth.
Following FP3 on Saturday morning, all five bLU cRU entrants had done enough to automatically qualify for the races, with Yamaha MS Racing’s Alan Kroh impressive in fifth, ahead of teammate Ton Kawakami, who was ninth, while Biblion Motoxracing Yamaha’s Diaz was 13th.
Sofuoğlu and Orradre, both heading into the weekend with a chance at finishing top three in the standings, struggled to piece together the perfect lap and were both outside the top 20 but would join their fellow bLU cRU riders in the qualifying session.
In the Superpole, 16-year-old Spanish rider Orradre upped his pace and qualified eighth for the race grids. Kawakami continued to show consistency in 13th, with Sofuoğlu 21st, Diaz 27th and Kroh 28th.
Saturday’s frenetic Race 1 saw Brazil’s Kawakami avoid the chaos around him to finish a respectable 10th, with Sofuoğlu climbing into the points-paying positions in 14th. Diaz and Kroh made progress through the field, just missing out on the top 15 in 18th and 19th respectively, as Orradre was caught up in an unavoidable incident, forcing him to retire while in the battle for a top-five finish.
After a promising Warm Up, in which Sofuoğlu placed as the top bLU cRU rider in third, with Orradre, Kawakami and Kroh all inside the top 10, Race 2 saw the Turkish youngster produce another thrilling fightback through the field. The Jerez and Aragon race-winner climbed into the podium battle with four laps remaining and was third heading into the final corner on the last lap. However, with the long run to the line, he was defenseless to the slipstream behind and finished just 0.067s adrift of the podium in fourth.
Orradre scored his first points finish since the Teruel round after a run of bad luck in 13th, ahead of Kawakami and Kroh, who rounded out the points positions in 14th and 15th. Diaz was also making a comeback into the top 20, but could only match his result from Saturday in 18th.
That concludes the 2020 season, with all five bLU cRU riders demonstrating a great amount of potential and progress at world championship level. Sofuoğlu and Orradre were both winners, while Kawakami, Diaz and Kroh all ended the season with top 10 finishes.
2020 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge standings
1. Bahattin Sofuoğlu
2. Unai Orradre
3. Ton Kawakami
4. Alvaro Diaz
5. Alan Kroh