Finding his feet: Locatelli’s rise to a consistent front runner in WorldSBK

Monday, 23 August 2021 06:20 GMT

The reigning WorldSSP Champion came was thrown straight into the factory Yamaha outfit in his rookie season and, after half a season, has found his feet

After claiming his first World Championship in dominant fashion in 2020, Andrea Locatelli (Pata Yamaha with Brixx WorldSBK) stepped up to the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship class with great fanfare after his stunning FIM Supersport World Championship success in his rookie campaign in 2020.

The Italian moved to WorldSSP and the Evan Bros. WorldSSP Yamaha outfit for the 2020 campaign and claimed 12 wins in 15 races, seven pole positions out of eight Tissot Superpole sessions, 13 out of a possible 15 podiums and 11 fastest laps to win the title by over 100 points over nearest rival Lucas Mahias (Kawasaki Puccetti Racing), who joined him on the 2021 WorldSBK grid.

Locatelli’s adaptation to WorldSBK had taken five rounds before it all clicked together for him at the TT Circuit Assen for the Prosecco DOC Dutch Round which kickstarted a run of form of nine consecutive top-five finishes, including two podiums; and if not for a last-lap track limits infringement in the Tissot Superpole Race at Assen, he would have three podiums to his name. Locatelli has shown remarkable consistency since Race 1 at Assen which has culminated in five consecutive fourth-place finishes since the Superpole Race at the Autodrom Most.

After three more fourth place results at the Circuito de Navarra, Locatelli said: “It’s an amazing weekend here in Navarra. In the end, in Race 2, I tried to push for the maximum but on the first lap I made some mistakes. I went wide, I touched a rider and I lost some positions. I tried to overtake the rider in front of me. In the end, the first group went more in front of me. I tried to close the gap, but I couldn’t do it. It’s another excellent weekend because we didn’t make a mistake. We had a really good position and for sure we need to be happy because we are in front now and, for sure, we will continue on this way. Now we have another opportunity in Magny-Cours. It won’t be easy because I’ve never ridden there with this bike, but I know the track because I rode there last year in wet conditions. I remember that very well!”

After his rapid rise from WorldSSP rookie to factory Yamaha rider, the WorldSBK rookie will be hoping to continue his rich vein of form as the 2021 campaign enters the second half of the season. The form shown by Locatelli since Assen has meant his points total has almost trebled from 51 points after Round 4 at Donington Park to 151 after the Navarra Round, moving him into fifth place in the Championship and the second-placed Yamaha rider after passing Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) in the standings.

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