Resurgent and revitalised: has Garrett Gerloff found his form?

Friday, 19 November 2021 09:00 GMT

Third after day one, it’s been a dream start in tropical paradise for Garrett Gerloff in Indonesia

The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship’s final round is underway at the all-new Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit for the Pirelli Indonesian Round. Returning to the calendar for the first time since 1997, Indonesia hosts the #WorldSBKFinale, but there’s plenty of other things to keep an eye on aside from the intense Championship battle. One of the stories is who is who will be top Independent rider overall and after Friday’s running, it’s looking like Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) may just hold onto it, with the American finishing third on the combined times.

Gerloff was fast out the blocks and learnt the track seemingly quite well, finishing third in the morning before backing it up further in the afternoon. With temperatures in the mid-30s and track temperatures in the 60s and coupled with oppressive humidity, it wasn’t the easiest time to make a debut at a new track, but Gerloff was consistent and right on the pace in FP2. 0.225s behind Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) and just over half a tenth adrift of Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK), it was a good opening day on Lombok for Gerloff.

Reviewing his first taste of the Pertamina Mandalika Circuit, Gerloff said: “I’m really happy and I really like the track. Obviously, in the morning it was a bit dirty, but it’s been a good day. I’m really happy with how the Yamaha R1 is working and the team are working great. We went in a bit of a different direction today and that really seems to be helping me, so it’s all positive going into tomorrow.”

Talking about whether he had the potential to fight for the podium and ending the season on a high: “It’d be awesome! I want to do the best I can as always but for sure, I’ve been giving it everything, but things haven’t been going our way at times. I feel good and I’ll try my best tomorrow in Superpole to try and get a good starting position for the race. After that, we’ll see what happens, so full gas!”

Gerloff’s locked in combat for the Independent Riders’ Championship with Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing), with the Italian rookie coming good of late and storming into contention. However, Gerloff has a 14-point lead and with a strong start in Indonesia, he’ll hope that he can hang onto it. He’s also tied on points with Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and will be looking to get a sizeable scalp in the factory Kawasaki rider. Both currently have 213 points, with plenty up for grabs this weekend.

Talking about who he thinks will lift the Championship crown, Gerloff backed his fellow Yamaha rider: “I don’t want to jinx anybody, that’s for sure but as a fellow Yamaha rider, I’d put my money on Toprak, and I’ll be supporting him. He was riding amazing this morning and to be a second a half faster than anyone else is special. I think he is in a good place; we’ll have to see what the weather does but for sure, I’d be putting my money on him.”

Watch all the drama from Indonesia unfold with the #WorldSBKFinale on the WorldSBK VideoPass!