Garrett Gerloff claimed the Best Independent Rider award in 2021 despite ‘struggling’ in both races in Indonesia
The 2021 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship campaign ended on a high for American star Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team) as he secured the Best Independent Rider award for this season. After an up-and-down season, Gerloff secured the award at the Pertamina Mandalika International Street Circuit during the Pirelli Indonesian Round, finishing ahead of Axel Bassani (Motocorsa Racing).
Gerloff came into the season-ending Indonesian Round 14 points clear of Italian rookie Bassani, but saw that gap close to just eight points after Race 1 when Gerloff finished 11th with Bassani in fifth place; although Gerloff started ahead of Bassani in both Race 1 and Race 2 after he qualified in fourth place in Tissot Superpole, with Bassani in seventh.
In Race 2, Gerloff initially dropped back through the field but was able to recover to claim sixth place which was enough to secure him the 2021 Best Independent Rider award ahead of Bassani. Bassani had been running inside the top four throughout the race but a collision with Michael van der Mark (BMW Motorrad WorldSBK Team) coming out of the final corner meant he did not finish the race.
Reacting to his end-of-season award, which also meant he finished seventh in the overall Championship standings, as well as 2021 as a whole, Gerloff said: “It’s nice. I had different aspirations for this year but it’s nice to give the team something. I know they’re happy for that and it’s the least I could do. It came down to it. The points got close but happy we were able to hold on to it. I’m glad it’s over. I’m just going to forget about it and go home and get ready for next year.”
In the dry Superpole session, Gerloff was able to take a second row start with fourth place on the grid but ahead of both races, rain started to fall which added extra challenges including the fact that no rider on the grid had raced or tested at the Mandalika circuit in wet conditions. Race 1, held on Sunday morning, featured a half-wet, half-dry circuit on slick tyres while Race 2 was in full wet conditions.
Discussing the two races in Indonesia, Gerloff said: “It was really difficult because we had full dry for the whole weekend, and then before both races it started raining. The first race was half-wet, half-dry on slicks was really tough and the second race, having a full wet but no real wet experience, made it really difficult for me. I kind of struggled in both races. Glad we were able to hold it together and to get the Independent Championship. That was nice and happy we were able to do that for the team.”
Gerloff ends his sophomore season in WorldSBK two podiums from 2021 at MotorLand Aragon and Donington Park, and seventh in the Championship standings. As well as wrapping up the Best Independent Rider title for 2021, he helped his GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team to claim the Best Independent Team award for this season alongside rookie teammate Kohta Nozane.
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