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WorldSBK Estoril: ‘Experience and trust’ key for Locatelli

Andrea Locatelli, the other factory Yamaha rider in WorldSBK, had a respectable weekend in Portugal, especially on Sunday.

Like everyone else in WorldSBK this season, he and all of the riders who are not Rea, Razgatlioglu and Bautista, are still waiting for their first chance to join a podium ceremony.

Something Locatelli is aware of, even though he felt his weekend improved to Sunday’s finale.
“Yes, it’s a good weekend,” said the second year WorldSBK rider. “We close today in the P5, but the gap was not so big with respect to yesterday. So for sure, we improved. My group of my team, we improved a lot the bike, so I’m so happy about it. Yesterday it was a little bit difficult. Today we worked a little bit to improve a little bit on the exit of the corner, especially on the speed of the bike. So, we improved a lot on this part so we can close a little bit more the gap.”


The question for now, for Locatelli as a would-be World Champion in this class, after being a convincing champion in WorldSSP two years ago, is how to bridge the gap to those modern WorldSBK trifecta members?

“I think Jonny has a lot of experience and he’s six-time world champion,” Locatelli said. “Toprak rides a bike like never I’ve seen one rider ride a bike. About Bautista, I don't know, but probably has something more on the bike so he can stay in front. About me, I think I need to learn a little bit more on the bike. I need to push a little bit more on the bike. It’s just my second year. I need to do a little bit more experience because I have a bit of experience, but it’s just my second year. It’s not my tenth year. So, for sure, this is a good point. For example, I think Iker is a good rider but also coming from MotoGP. For sure, this year he is a rookie in Superbike but he’s not like a rookie. The last year I arrived here from Supersport. He arrived from the MotoGP, so it’s a bit different. I think we need to work and we need to continue to push on the bike, because I think with Yamaha I can improve a lot and I can try to close the gap and I can try to stay with Toprak, with Jonny in a good race for sure, or try.”

The problem for Loka and all the others is that as much as they improving in themselves and their bikes - so are the big three. He explained it thus…
“To be honest, I think if the level of Jonathan and Toprak and Bautista also was like last year, I think I’m more close now. But the problem is maybe I do a big step, but also Jonny and Toprak do something. So, from one to ten, from zero to ten, last year I was in four, and Toprak and Jonny eight. Now I do seven, but those guys go in ten! So, it’s not easy. For sure, I need a little more experience. For sure I need to trust in myself and to push and to ride and to enjoy. If I enjoy, in the end every time it’s good.

"To be honest, I don't know which is the key, but for sure I think it’s experience. So, I need to get to work. Also in my mind I don’t want to change too much. I want to do step by step and to learn every race, because if I want to try something or I want to try a crazy idea, I think probably we go down. So, it’s important to continue the work, to prepare the bike, to push hard and to trust in myself and my team and we can get something good, for sure.”

Locatelli has many set-up tools at his hands now, more than when he raced in WorldSSP, but an immediate fix to start producing podiums is not particularly realistic. So maybe he needs to be able to ride the bike in testing, doing nothing like race simulations?

“For sure, if we can do a little bit more testing, I can ride a little bit more the bike so I can take more feeling on the bike and we can improve the bike,” he said, then continued, “Also, in the Superbike, we can work with a lot of things. We can move a lot the bike. We can work on the electronics. So, we have a big package to work. For sure, it’s important also to ride and especially I remember last year when we had some days of testing. We had a lot of time we can rest, we can think something, we prepare the bike, we go on the track. I improved a lot.

“Last year for me was really interesting after the testing in Navarra, because after Navarra, we go in Assen and when we arrive in Assen I do my first podium. Then we continue in a good way, especially because during the test we work and we find something good for me, for my riding style. I don't know why. We do a lot of work and we arrive ready on the race and we start on this point. So, probably if we do some tests, we can improve.”

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