The American star was on top form again as he took two fourth place finishes in Portugal and is now the lead BMW rider in the standings
Garrett Gerloff’s (Bonovo Action BMW) uptick in form continued at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve as he took two fourth-place finishes. The American is now the lead BMW rider in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship standings, and, in Race 2, he was only a second away from a first podium with the German manufacturer. Although he had to settle for fourth in the Pirelli Portuguese Round, it was the closest the #31 had been to a rostrum with BMW since he made the switch at the start of the 2023 campaign.
Gerloff’s weekend started in the perfect fashion as he topped Free Practice 1 with a 1’40.763s, the only rider in the 1’40s bracket. This gave him second in the combined classification as his FP2 time was slower, before heading into FP3 and Tissot Superpole on Saturday. He was eighth in the morning practice session, but this didn’t translate into a third-row grid start as he took 12th in Superpole, finishing as the third BMW rider behind the ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team duo of Michael van der Mark (seventh) and Scott Redding (11th).
In Race 1, he battled to fourth for his joint-best BMW result as he finished six seconds away from the podium. He took eighth in the Tissot Superpole Race on Sunday morning which gave him a third-row start in Race 2, and he used this to great effect for the final race of the weekend. He was soon in a battle for fourth but, crucially, finished just over a second away from Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) in third as he edged closer to a first BMW rostrum. It was also the round he scored more points in than any other this year, with 28. His previous best was Magny-Cours with 24.
Looking back on his weekend, the six-time podium finisher said: “I was so close to tasting the Prosecco DOC! It kills me! I feel really good with how the weekend went. Honestly, after Superpole and finishing on the fourth row, it’s not that I lost all hope, but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Now, the midfield is so strong that if you don’t have a good Superpole and you get caught up in those battles, it’s so hard to move forward. You sort of get sucked in like quicksand. I wasn’t as confident as I’d like to admit. The bike’s been feeling great all weekend. We came here right away, and we were able to put it on P1 in FP1 and I felt really good, I just wasn’t able to put it together in Superpole which is an issue of mine and something I’d really like to continue to work on in testing. To have two P4s feels epic. I wish I could’ve had a better Superpole and maybe, you never know, it would’ve been nice to get that podium. I want it so bad.
“Michael was riding really well; just really fast laps and he was dragging both of us to Toprak and Alvaro. I think they were fighting a little bit which didn’t help. I saw them coming towards us and I was thinking ‘there’s no way!’. It just feels nice to just see first place and see the podium. We’ve been not as close as that. Even in Race 1, I was still six seconds away from the podium and now to be able to reach out and almost grab it, it feels like a big improvement.”
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