Gerloff overtakes Vierge on his way to a sixth-place finish in Race 1 at Phillip Island. Photo courtesy of GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team.
Former MotoAmerica Superbike rider Garrett Gerloff’s penultimate day with the GYTR GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Team was a memorable one as he earned the Top Independent Rider result in tricky conditions at a wet-but-drying Phillip Island Circuit in Australia.
The day started out wet, and the Texan was ninth-fastest in the morning’s Free Practice 3 session. By the time the afternoon’s Tissot Superpole was set to start, the track had dried, and Gerloff produced a strong flying lap of 1:30.727 to put him sixth-fastest and on the inside of the second row of the starting grid.
The rain returned ahead of Race 1 but, just as the riders were getting ready to head out to the grid, the sun began to shine. With the track still wet, almost everyone opted for the full rain tires, including Gerloff.
He got off to a decent start and maintained his position in sixth while looking to find more pace on the wet asphalt. However, with track conditions quickly changing, on lap 10, he opted to quickly return to the pits and switch from rain tires to slicks.
After rejoining in ninth position, the 27-year-old quickly moved up to eighth, then overtook Honda’s Xavi Vierge for seventh, and rapidly closed the gap to Motocorsa Ducati’s Axel Bassani. With three laps to go, Gerloff overtook Bassani for sixth, while also recording the third-fastest lap time of the race.
“It was definitely a fun race,” Gerloff said. “The feeling in the wet wasn’t too great, but it wasn’t that bad either. But, once I came out on dry compounds, the feeling was really good despite the fact that we were using wet settings. I didn’t expect it to be honest, and it probably helped us a lot for tomorrow. Let’s hope for no rain on Sunday!”
Gerloff will be back in action tomorrow for his final two races with the team. The Superpole Race will start at 1 p.m. and Race 2 is at 4 p.m. Both times local.
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