Can you remember as far back as Valencia last year? If you can, you’ll know the name Garrett Gerloff, whether you’re a World Superbike fan or not. Just in case you can’t, I’ll tell you what happened; the Yank stepped in to ride Valentino Rossi’s Yamaha YZR-M1, and although he only got as far as practice, certainly turned a few heads.
We never got to see him race because Rossi received his second negative Covid test result in time for qualifying. Despite that, Gerloff still managed to impress us all in the few sessions he completed.
This time he won’t be throwing a leg over The GOAT’s factory machine. The World Superbike rider will be piloting Franco Morbidelli’s Petronas Yamaha SRT MotoGP bike.
As it happens, Morbidelli’s injury was a bit of an elephant in the room, masterfully glossed over by Yamaha’s press officers. All we know at this stage is that it’s a knee injury, sustained in ‘training’… but then again, they would say that wouldn’t they. More on Morbz injury, as and when.
Gerloff might not have finished on the top step of a WSBK podium yet, but there’s no denying the lad from Texas is a world class rider. He’s won a couple of MotoAmerica Supersport titles, as well as podiums this year and last year in WSBK.
This is what the 25-year-old Texan had to say:
“I’m excited for the opportunity ahead, I’m not someone who runs away from a challenge, so I’m ready to get to the track. It’ll be a new circuit for me, I like trying new tracks, it looks fun, fast and flowing, and really suits my riding style. I’m looking forward to jumping on the Yamaha M1 again and twisting the throttle. We’ll see how things go, but I feel good and would like to thank Yamaha and the team for considering me. It won’t be easy, but I’m going to give it my best shot!”
With a MotoGP grid as competitive as it currently is, Mr Gerloff is absolutely right; it’ll not be easy. Especially when you consider he’ll be riding a bike that hasn’t really cut the mustard so far in 2021. But what’s he got to loose. And if he can behave himself (i.e. not loop it), it could turn out to be one of the most pivotal moments in his career. If he can beat Rossi (who is, to be fair, struggling this year), Yamaha will have to take notice. If he can improve on the positions Morbidelli has been achieving, the same goes.
As he said, it won’t be easy. He’s got very little experience on a GP bike. Very little experience on Michelin tyres. Absolutely no experience at Assen. He’s got his work cut out. But I’ve got a good feeling about it. He obviously gelled well with Rossi’s bike last year, he’s got a good style and a sensible head on his shoulders. I’m really, really looking forward to seeing how he does.
Good luck Garrett, you’re going to need it son.
Love Boothy x