The American star stunned on Saturday and fought back on Sunday as he claimed two top-five finishes and matched BMW’s best result of the season
Garrett Gerloff (Bonovo Action BMW) impressed at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours as he had his best MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship weekend since joining BMW at the start of the 2023 season. The Texan took an incredible pole position on Saturday before a fourth place in Race 1 and a fifth in Race 2 as the German manufacturer consistently fought in the top five throughout the Pirelli French Round.
Things didn’t get off to the best start on Sunday for the American in the Tissot Superpole Race. He dropped down the order as the lights went out and was fighting hard to remain in the top positions. As the field got to Turn 8, Gerloff was slightly wide and looking to come back onto the ideal line but Scott Redding (ROKiT BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) was looking up the inside, but behind the #31, with the pair making contact and tumbling into the gravel. Redding was given a Long Lap Penalty for his role in their crash.
Explaining the crash from his perspective, Gerloff said: “It’s just one of those things, racing stuff. I’m frustrated with myself because I was with Jonny, we were next to each other going into Turn 6 and both leaned at the same time. It’s just one line so that on the transition, I wasn’t going to be able to make it so I decided to go straight. Went through the slip road no problem, re-joined the track and I was right behind Andrea Locatelli. We were both pretty tight I felt into Turn 8 and then I was just on the ground. It happened out of nowhere. We’re all fighting, all trying to move forward. If I’d been behind Jonny a bit more, it never would’ve happened. It’s one of those things. I can’t put all the blame on Scott, some of it was me too.”
Gerloff’s DNF from the Superpole Race impacted his grid position and he started from tenth in Race 2, although he gained a position on the grid for the restarted race after a red flag. The #31 had shown strong pace all weekend and he demonstrated this again in the 17-lap Race 2 as he battled his way up the field. He stayed in ninth for the first eight laps but soon started making progress as he passed Xavi Vierge (Team HRC) on Lap 9, Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing) four laps later and Danilo Petrucci (Barni Spark Racing Team) on the penultimate lap; plus benefitting from Michael Ruben Rinaldi’s (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) technical issue.
It was the first time Gerloff scored double-digit points in a single race for BMW, and he managed it twice in both the feature-length races with fourth and fifth, with the six-time podium finisher matching BMW’s best result of the season. His total of 24 points from France makes up more than a quarter of his points haul for the season with the BMW star on 92 points. He trails Redding, the highest-placed BMW rider, in the standings by 16 points. BMW’s 27-point haul for the Manufacturers’ Championship made it their best weekend, in terms of points, since Magny-Cours 2022, when they collected 35 points.
Discussing the weekend, Gerloff said: “I’m trying my best! The whole team have been trying and pushing the best we can and to finally make some real progress… it feels so good! We’ve put so much work into it the whole time so to finally feel like we’re making real ground, and to have the first pole position for me and the team, is unbelievable. I’m super happy about that. Two top-five finishes are like… maybe I was expecting a little bit more, maybe we could’ve had a podium, but you can’t do it all at once. That’s something to look forward to in the next three rounds to see if can move forward a little bit more.”
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