Locatelli on new crew chief Tom O’Kane: "He can be a really big step for me in the future"

Thursday, 9 November 2023 14:15 GMT

The Italian will have a new crew chief for 2024 with Andrew Pitt moving to the other side of the box to work with new Yamaha rider Jonathan Rea

Andrea Locatelli’s (Pata Yamaha Prometeon WorldSBK) crew chief for the 2024 campaign has been revealed as Tom O’Kane, with the #55 announcing him as part of his team at EICMA in Italy. Locatelli, heading into his fourth season as a factory Yamaha rider, needed a new crew chief following a reshuffle inside the Pata Yamaha box which started with Toprak Razgatlioglu’s departure and Jonathan Rea’s arrival.

‘Loka’ had worked with two-time WorldSSP Champion Andrew Pitt in his three seasons since graduating from WorldSSP, with the pair taking 14 podiums together. However, Razgatlioglu’s move to BMW and his crew chief, Phil Marron, following him opened up a vacancy inside the box. With six-time Champion Rea moving into the team, Pitt switched sides in the box to link-up with his former teammate.

This opened up a seat on the Italian’s side of the box which was previously described by Team Principal Paul Denning as a very exciting arrival, with the team due to announce later this month. However, Locatelli revealed that it would be O’Kane who was his crew chief next year. O’Kane has worked inside the MotoGP™ paddock for a long time, bringing vast experience to Pata Yamaha, and also worked with Denning previously. His experience mostly recently was with Yamaha’s MotoGP™ test team but, previously, he was with the Suzuki test team.

Discussing his new crew chief for 2024, Locatelli said: “I think, after three years, it was important to try and find something new. My new crew chief is Tom O’Kane from Yamaha MotoGP™. I know him because he’s a really big name in the paddock, especially in the MotoGP™ paddock. It’s really interesting to start working with a really high level crew chief and I think he can be really important for me to have a really solid side, especially from this area and the crew chief and electronics can be a really big step for me in the future.”  

Although Pata Yamaha started their 2024 testing programme right after the Spanish Round at Jerez, it was with Rea as Locatelli didn’t take to the track. His first time testing for next year will come in a couple of weeks at Jerez where he will get to try some new items, some that Remy Gardner (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) used to go fastest at the test, with the Australian saying they helped him with edge grip and easier to keep the corner speed up.

Discussing the test, ‘Loka’ said: “After the race, we knew it wasn’t important to immediately try the bike because we were at the end of the season. During the year, we have some new stuff from Yamaha to try so it’ll be important to find good conditions. Without these, it’s difficult to try the new stuff. If we can find a good track with good weather, we have a lot of work to do. It’s important because we only have these two days to understand everything and then we’re waiting until January to be back on track. I think the work we do will be really important.” 

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