Not just a new rider in the premier class of the paddock but a new team too
The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship season may be coming into its final stages but there’s lots of hype surrounding 2023, and with good reason. The WorldSBK field will grow further next year as GMT94 Yamaha graduate from WorldSSP, with WorldSSP Championship contender Lorenzo Baldassarri aboard the YZF-R1. The Italian will move to WorldSBK after just one season in WorldSSP, with the GMT94 outfit fulfilling their desires to step-up, whilst also remaining a part of the World Supersport grid, having recently announced…
GMT94 Yamaha have bags of success in the WorldSSP class and whilst they’ve missed the title, race wins and title challenges have been picked up along the way. In 2019, Jules Cluzel took the team to third overall in the title and whilst an injury-hit season in 2020 saw him miss the taste of top-step Prosecco DOC, he was back to winning ways in 2021. For 2022, he’s been injured but also has a podium to his name, although he’ll retire at the close of the season.
Previewing his team moving up to the premier class, team principal Christophe Guyot is excited for this new chapter in the GMT94 project: “It was a target of mine since the beginning of my career, also as a rider a long time ago and it was a target when we arrived in WorldSSP in 2018. Thank you to everyone who is behind this project. Firstly, Dorna and Gregorio Lavilla, who have been behind me since the start, and also Andrea Dosoli and Yamaha and, of course, all our partners. We are in sport and Lorenzo Baldassarri enters WorldSBK because he deserves it. He will finish first or second in WorldSSP this year. It was my first wish with Andrea Dosoli to welcome the rider who deserved to be there, and it is the same for Valentin in WorldSSP.”
Guyot then thanked Jules Cluzel, the team’s current WorldSSP rider, for his hard work throughout the last four seasons: “The first thing is, when I thank many people, the first I would like to thank is Jules. Merci, Jules. We have now seven victories and 25 podiums with Jules. Without him, for sure, we wouldn’t be in this position to enter WorldSBK now. We want to help him to win before the end of the season.”
For Lorenzo Baldassarri, he instantly shone in WorldSSP with a debut win back at Aragon, one of just a few riders to achieve that. He’s been consistently on the podium, although Superpole crashes and crashed out of victory battles have kept him behind reigning World Champion Dominique Aegerter (Ten Kate Racing Yamaha) since round two of the season at Assen. ‘Iron Balda’, a five-time Moto2™ Grand Prix race winner, has four WorldSSP wins to his name in 2022 and currently sits 45 points behind Aegerter, who will likewise move up to WorldSBK with the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team, with both riders set to continue their fierce battles and rivalry into WorldSBK.
Ready to get into action in WorldSBK, 25-year-old Baldassarri is keen to take advantage of bigger, more powerful bikes, something that should his 6ft frame a bit more: “I’m very happy, because I started this project with Yamaha in WorldSSP from Moto2™, and my goal was always to be in WorldSBK. This year, we’ve had a very good season, we have grown together and I’m always improving. I’m ready for this step into the WorldSBK Championship with Yamaha and the GMT94 Yamaha WorldSBK Team, so thanks to them for giving me this opportunity; I can’t wait to start this new adventure.”
Yamaha’s WorldSBK project is growing and each year, goes from strength to strength. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) delivered the title for the Japanese manufacturer in 2021, ending their 12-year wait for success, whilst for the first time in Yamaha’s history, the #1 was proudly displayed for 2022. Razgatlioglu continues to be in contention in 2022 whilst teammate Andrea Locatelli and American rider Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) have been able to step on the rostrum. Having won the Manufacturers’ Championship in 2021 and still in the battle in 2022, the project remains one of the strongest, as well as Yamaha investing in the next generation too with the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU European Cup.
Talking about Yamaha’s presence expanding for 2023, Yamaha Motor Europe’s Road Racing manager Andrea Dosoli is excited to see the growth of the brand in World Superbike: “It’s good news for Yamaha and GMT94. It means that the programme is working and working quite well. GMT have improved the performance and the knowledge of the Championship and, as we have seen in the past with GRT, it is nice that this team are able to step up. The challenge will be a tough one but Christophe and the guys at GMT94 are working hard to be ready for next season.
“I’m not a dreamer, I know it’s tough for a rookie team but also, I know it’s tough for a rookie rider in this Championship. The WorldSBK level is increasing year by year so we need to be realistic. Lorenzo has proved, this year, that he can adapt to a new Championship and new competitors. He’s shown the speed and strong motivation. He’s convinced and we are convinced that WorldSBK will suit him in terms of riding style, but most important is commitment. He’s working hard every day to achieve the best possible results this year. He’s fighting for the title and we hope he achieves his dream. He has a clear target in mind for 2023 in WorldSBK and we will support this important step.”
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