Playing it cool, smart but remaining sharp until the end, the American rider was back on the box for a long overdue rostrum
The 2022 MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship has been full of stories this season and round eight of the season delivered another emotional one, as it marked the return to the podium for Garrett Gerloff (GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team). The American got his first podium of his WorldSBK career at the circuit back in 2020 and since Donington Park last year, has been without a rostrum. Bouncing back from the controversial incident a year ago at Assen when he collided with Toprak Razgatlioglu and now with his future secured and a move to BMW for the next two years, Gerloff put in one of his best performances to-date in WorldSBK Race 1 in Barcelona.
Starting from a second consecutive second row Superpole result, Gerloff got a good, clean launch but dropped back slightly, down to eighth on the opening lap before he was back in ninth on Lap 2. However, Gerloff, who showed potential in Superpole as well as FP2 on Friday, kept a calm head and methodically picked each rider off in front of him. Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati) made an error at Turn 1 which allowed Gerloff to capitalise, before he then triumphed in a battle over fellow Yamaha rider Andrea Locatelli. Undoubtedly the highlight of Gerloff’s race was on Lap 17, when Gerloff got ahead of both Alex Lowes (Kawasaki Racing Team WorldSBK) and poleman Iker Lecuona (Team HRC) in one move at Turn 1.
Talking about the first podium of his 2022 campaign, Gerloff couldn’t help but smile: “It’s been a long time! You never know when you’re last podium is going to be and for a while, I was thinking that Donington Park last year was going to be the last one. The team deserve to be here; it’s a world class team and they do a world class job. I’m happy to give them and the sponsors some media coverage!”
It's been a consistent season for Gerloff, even if perhaps the highs and the outright potential that he’s shown many times before. He achieved a first top five of the season last time out at Magny-Cours and has now broken into the top ten in the overall Championship standings. The American, who will move to the Bonovo Action BMW team for 2023 and 2024, will now look to be back in contention on the final race day on Sunday.
Speaking further about the race itself and how tyre management was crucial, Gerloff said: “I just figured that this race would be a long one and that tyre degradation was a big thing round here. I saw everyone smoking tyres right from the first lap, and it was a sign to me to be easy on the gas. I lost some ground for not being as aggressive, but it seemed to pay off later in the race. When they started coming back to me, I was thrilled. To make some passes always feels nice!”
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