The two Frenchmen were expecting more from the first rounds of the 2022 season, but they’re hoping to get back towards the front at Donington Park and beyond
Jules Cluzel (GMT94 Yamaha) and his teammate Andy Verdoia, the only two French riders competing in the FIM Supersport World Championship this season, have experienced ups and downs since the opening round at the MotorLand Aragon. After concluding the 2021 season with a win in Race 2 at Mandalika, Cluzel’s best result so far is fourth. On the other side of the garage, Verdoia has only managed to achieve a sole top ten, with ninth at Estoril in Race 1 being his best result so far.
However, it’s vaguely familiar, as Cluzel recalls a tricky start to 2021 before bouncing back to win four of the last six races. “We are in a difficult situation. Last year, we were on the podium in every race or every two races. We were scoring top four, if not top three and we were still complaining. We were in a critical situation where everyone was stressed. Finally, when everything relaxed, we started to win almost every race at the end of the year. It’s the same goal this year. I want to find that serenity again. It won’t come just like that, but we’ll have to find solutions. We have some time, but the title is already out of our hands.”
The youngest WorldSSP winner Verdoia has also had a difficult start to the year, with an arm-pump problem at the Motul Dutch Round. He had to withdraw from the event to undergo surgery a few days later. “I’m doing much better. I hope that the pocket will not fill up again, it’s already three times that I had surgery for this problem.”
As soon as he returned to Estoril, Verdoia scored his best result of the season with a ninth place in Race 1. But, following a heavy crash in the warm-up on Sunday morning, he had to sit out Race 2. “Of course, we expected more from the start of the season, but there are a lot of reasons why it has been more complicated for us. I hope to move up to the top in the next few races. We will be aiming to get close to the top five and when the opportunity comes, we will, of course, try and fight for the podium and the win. We need to stay focused, keep working and hopefully the results will follow.”
Whilst talks for the 2023 season have already begun in WorldSBK, Cluzel vows to continue racing and get back to the top: “I don’t want to stop like this, he says. I still want to enjoy myself and we’ll see what happens. We are only in the first part of the season. I think I’m an experienced rider and I won a bunch of races last year and that’s not something you forget. In my head and in my heart, I want to end up with wins.”
And Verdoia also gave comment, stating his main aim is to get on form this season before thinking about anything else: “For me, I’m not thinking about next season yet. Of course, my goal is to continue in WorldSSP, to keep improving and to get closer to the front. But first, I must finish this season well, there are still a lot of races to try to get good results.”
Watch the 2022 WorldSSP season unfold in style with the WorldSBK VideoPass!