American Garrett Gerloff will have a 2021 Yamaha R1 at his disposal for next year at GRT Yamaha and is joined by one of Japan’s most exciting up and coming riders
Following the news that Andrea Locatelli will move up to WorldSBK and partner Toprak Razgatlioglu at the PATA Yamaha team for 2021, Yamaha Motor Europe also announced plans for the GRT squad. After a year of learning and also improving his results, Garrett Gerloff retains his seat within the team and will look to build on his 2020 podium at Catalunya, whilst joining him will be rookie Kohta Nozane, with the 24-year-old moving into WorldSBK following domination in the Japanese Championships and also his past MotoGP™ experience.
Garrett Gerloff’s season was a phenomenal one from the start. Having never seen Phillip Island before, he was already seventh by the end of lap two in Race 1 before his tyre dropped away. His potential from then-on-in has been clear and Catalunya was his breakthrough weekend, taking a career-first podium in Race 2 – the first American in WorldSBK to achieve that since the late, great Nicky Hayden in 2016. Now with a second season to look forward to, Gerloff will hope for a bit more stability than 2020 and will have the new Yamaha R1 at his disposal too.
Joining the American at the GRT Yamaha team will be 2020 MFJ All-Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship leader Kohta Nozane, who will debut in WorldSBK next year. The Japanese rider was the 2013 J-GP2 Class champion with Yamaha and is a multiple race-winner in the competitive JSB1000 series. This year, Nozane leads the championship having won every race so far, with just two double-header rounds remaining. Alongside his national experience, the soon-to-be 25-year-old has also contested the FIM Endurance World Championship with the YART Yamaha EWC Official Team and boasts a MotoGP™ outing with Yamaha in the 2017 Japanese Grand Prix at Twin Ring Motegi.
Speaking of the new deal, Gerloff said: “I’m just super excited to be staying with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for the 2021 season. This year has been incredible; the people I work with on the team are exceptional, really positive and awesome people, so to be able to continue with them is fantastic. It’s going to be nice to hopefully have more of a normal year and to have some consistency in the team will be great for me.
“I’m really excited to be getting the new Yamaha R1 as well. Hopefully it will give us even more performance to take the fight to the current frontrunners in the championship. Thank you so much to Yamaha for continuing with me and giving me another opportunity to improve and show what I can do. I owe them and my team manager Filippo Conti everything. I think that we can do some great things next year and I’m more focused and determined than ever.”
Talking about his step-up to the class, Nozane said: “I’ve felt WorldSBK would be the best place for me to keep growing as a rider, so I’m really happy to get a chance to race on the world stage again and I can’t thank Yamaha enough for the opportunity. I’ll be up against the best riders in the world on different tyres to what I use now, and almost all the circuits will be totally new to me, so I know it’s going to be a massive challenge. But, I take pride in being one of Japan’s top riders, so to live up to the expectations of Japanese fans as well as gain the respect of race fans around the world, I want to make my mark right from the start, so I’ll be doing all I can to be ready to race.
“I’ll be joining the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team and Garrett Gerloff has finished on the podium with them in his rookie season, so I know they’re strong and I can’t wait to work and grow with them next year. We’re in the middle of this year’s All Japan Road Race Championship and I’m leading in the points, so the goal is to come into WorldSBK as the All Japan JSB1000 Champion. My focus from here is on doing my best in the last two rounds of the season to take the title."
Yamaha Motor Europe’s Road Racing Manager, Andrea Dosoli, shared his thoughts on what is a truly international line-up across both Yamaha teams for 2021: “For Garrett Gerloff, it was important to offer some stability after a debut WorldSBK season disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, which is why he will remain with the GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team for 2021. He has shown this year that he's capable of fighting at the front, even at tracks he's not familiar with, so we're excited to see what he can do next season on the 2021 specification Yamaha R1 and with a strong team behind him.
“We’re also delighted to welcome Kohta Nozane, who’s been the standout rider in the All Japan Road Race JSB1000 Championship this year, to the WorldSBK paddock. It’s important for both the series and for Yamaha to have a fast, Japanese rider racing on the world stage and it means we’ll have the exciting prospect of having four riders representing three different continents on the 2021 WorldSBK grid.
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