A race winner in WorldSSP300, the Indonesian star now goes in search of creating more success in the World Supersport category in 2020
Flying the flag for Indonesia and hailing from Yogyakarta, Galang Hendra Pratama (Yamaha bLU cRU WorldSSP by MS Racing) had always been involved in motorcycle Racing, with both parents keen motorcycle enthusiasts. The 21-year-old first participated in motocross before switching to underbone racing, a popular class in South East Asia, where he would craft his schools in preparation for the next step.
“Before I was born, my mother and father were also racing,” Galang Hendra recalled. “Up until 2010, I would still go to watch my dad race, but my mum stopped when I was just three-years-old. I competed in motocross championships between the ages of five and nine, then I started my career in road racing. I rode in some local races and the national 125cc underbone championship, as well as a one-make Yamaha series between 2011 and 2015.
“Up until 2016, I still did some local races, but the year before I was part of Yamaha Racing Indonesia and did the 250cc Asia Road Racing Championship with the YZF-R25. Then, in 2017 I was called up for a wildcard entry in the Supersport 300 World Championship.”
Alongside several other Asian talents, Galang Hendra was called up by Yamaha Motor Europe to Valentino Rossi’s VR46 Academy in 2016. A strong showing earned him a wildcard entry for the 2017 Supersport 300 World Championship at Portimão, which he described as “a dream” despite a retirement.
“Upon arriving at the World Supersport 300 race in Portugal, it was like a dream that I was even there. I needed time to learn and in FP1, FP2 and even the race I was still making big steps forward with the style and bike set-up. Unfortunately, in Portimão I had a technical issue but was allowed a second chance at Jerez.”
“For my second wildcard entry in Jerez, I was quite confident because I had just won the AP250 class of the Asia Road Racing Championship at Madras in India,” Galang Hendra continued. “So, I just tried to do my best and my target was just to try and get a point, finish in the top 15, but I could also see I had the opportunity to fight with the top group. I attacked every lap, every corner, and kept my focus to take the win on the run to the finish line.”
After that performance, Galang Hendra had his sights set on the 2018 Supersport 300 World Championship title, aiming to build on the one win he had to his name.
The lead Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge rider did just that, taking victory in Brno after a dominant weekend: “To win in Czech Republic the following year was obviously an amazing feeling as well,” Galang Hendra said. “From the beginning of the year, we weren’t sure about the potential, my goal was to be Champion but certainly in the early races we struggled to challenge the others. In Brno though, I was able to make a big gap to second place and win quite comfortably. I’m not sure exactly why we were able to maximise everything in Brno, the track is wide, and you can keep the rpm high, which is where the Yamaha worked best. So maybe this was why.”
Finishing in the top 10 overall and winning the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, the Indonesian sensation remained in the Supersport 300 World Championship for the 2019 season. Despite no victories, consistency paid dividends and a best overall position of seventh was secured.
Speaking on his step-up to the Yamaha R6 and his preparations ahead of 2020, Galang Hendra said: “The power, the weight and the way you ride the 600cc bike is totally different. On the Yamaha R3 you can keep the rpm high in the corners and brake very late. But on the R6 you must get the bike slowed as much as possible before the corner and use the power to accelerate out.
“Over the winter I did a lot of preparation. We did a week of testing in Jerez and Almeria, and step-by-step I’m learning how to ride and how to set-up the bike. I’m quite an aggressive rider, but now I need to be smoother, because if you push too much you can destroy the tyres quite quickly. Missing the pre-season test in Australia put me on the back foot, so I had to find out as much information as possible from my team-mate, Andy Verdoïa. We are still learning and hope to come back stronger when the season resumes.”