Emiliano Ercolani crowned 2023 R3 bLU cRU champion in dramatic finale

Saturday, 9 September 2023 20:21 GMT

The Italian rider took the first R3 bLU cRU European Championship title despite a dramatic final day of the 2023

Italy’s Emiliano Ercolani became the first champion of the 2023 MOTUL FIM World Superbike season after a shocking series of twists and turns that saw him crash in both races The day’s action got underway with Race 1, where six riders were still in contention for the crown. But drama is never far away in the class for upcoming talent and a crash early in the race saw three of those contenders - Aldi Mahendra, Ercolani, and Kevin Fontainha – down and out. The red flag was shown due to the debris and a rush ensued to get the bikes repaired and the riders back on track. Despite their best efforts, Mahendra and his crew ran out of time and were unable to take the restart, ultimately costing the Indonesian rider the crown. Meanwhile, Fontainha and Ercolani were forced to start from the back of the grid.

Spain’s Marc Vich came out as the eventual winner of the exciting and unpredictable race, which included several fantastic battles for the victory. French rider Dorian Joulin thrilled his friends and family as well as the assembled crowd when he claimed a brilliant second place, and Shoma Yamane became the first Japanese rider to take a podium in the R3 bLU cRU series. Ercolani made an impressive comeback to fourth, but Vich’s calm and calculated victory moved him to 23 points from the Italian title leader.

In Race 2 there were yet more plot twists when Ercolani suffered his second crash of the day and was left waiting nervously for the race result with Vich riding in the lead group. The Mallorcan needed to win the race in order to claim the crown, and he certainly gave it everything to try and achieve that, but it simply wasn’t to be when he lost ground after running wide. Vich eventually finished sixth, meaning Ercolani could finally celebrate the title despite not finishing the race. Mahendra came back from a double long lap penalty to win the season finale ahead of Brazilian pairing Fontainha and Gustavo Manso. Mahendra and Fontainha also placed second and third in the final standings.

As the R3 bLU cRU European Champion, Ercolani will now move up to the WorldSSP300 class for next season, a perfect progression for the 19-year-old who won his place in this year’s series thanks to a victory in last year’s R3 SuperFinale.

Check out Race 1 results here and Race 2 results here.

Emiliano Ercolani, 2023 R3 bLU cRU European Champion, said: “I’m feeling very emotional and very happy, I thought the title was lost after the crashes, but thankfully my points from the previous races were enough. Thank you to all my family and team, as well as everyone who has supported me and believed in me. Last year I won the SuperFinale which gave me entry to this year’s R3 championship, and now I have become champion here and I will move to WorldSSP300 – it’s a dream come true!”

Marc Vich, Race 1 winner said: “On the first lap I was thinking to brake early because I imagined that, being the first lap, there could be an incident with everybody entering the corner close together. By using this method I managed to avoid the crash. In the restart I had a bit of an issue with the gearing and I lost contact, but on the last lap I tried to be clever because the other two riders were deep in the inside of the corner and I was thinking if I go a little bit to the outside I can pass them, and this way I was able to achieve the win.”

Aldi Satya Mahendra, Race 2 victor, added: “Despite everything I am very, very happy. I had a double long lap penalty in this race after the crash in Race 1, and I knew the title would be very hard to achieve after this. I stayed focused in Race 2 and I was trying to preserve my tyre and ride sensibly, but I felt a few problems with the front brake. I didn’t let this distract me, and I’m so happy that I got second in the championship, and very close to first, after an intense season. Thank you to everyone who has helped me.”