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SBK, Baldassarri: “I thought Yamaha would have had more confidence in me, I felt like a guinea pig"

EXCLUSIVE - “I threw myself into SBK too quickly, but I thought that the project with GMT94 was more concrete and long-term. I thought about quitting, but passion got the better of me and the prospect with Orelac enticed me"

SBK: Baldassarri: “I thought Yamaha would have had more confidence in me, I felt like a guinea pig

For the second time in his career, Lorenzo Baldassarri returns to the starting line of the World Supersport Championship, to relaunch his odds on the world championship stage. Forced to take a step back after an unfortunate debut season in Superbike with GMT94, the 27-year-old from the Marche region will look for redemption with the Ducati Panigale V2 of the Orelac Racing team, with the clear intention of returning to be a protagonist in the category that saw him fight for the title in 2022. Precisely the year in which he had to reinvent himself, after finishing his experience in the Moto2 World Championship.

“In 2021 I was left without a ride after a crisis in Moto2 with the Forward team and I experienced a winter quite similar to this one, in which I didn't know whether to stop or what to do - Balda told us - Now, I feel a bit more serene compared to that year, because then I didn't know what awaited me and I had also begun to have doubts about myself. Now, however, I know my potential and I know that I am among the most competitive riders."

Do you think you went into SBK too early?

“I thought it was a more concrete and long-term project, but I was in a hurry to get there because I was afraid that otherwise it would end up as already happened to me in the past, when I had had the chance to go to MotoGP but I was left another year in Moto2, because I didn't feel ready and then, in the end, I didn't go anymore. With this fear, I jumped in a little too quickly and, unfortunately, the project was not what I thought and what I had been told. In hindsight, I could have stayed another year with the Evan Bros team aiming to win the title, because we could have fought with Bulega: we would have made him sweat more!".

Did you expect a different treatment from Yamaha and GMT94?

“Honestly, yes, I felt like a sort of guinea pig. I thought they would have had more confidence in me and that everyone believed in me a little more. Instead, they replaced me, for them one rider is the same as another."

When did you know that you weren't going to continue together?

“During the year they made me understand that there was this possibility, but they never told me openly. Then Yamaha told me there could be a place at Motoxracing. There I could have had my say, and we would have been an Italian team with an Italian rider, but they decided to continue with Bradley Ray, and I was left without a bike."

What didn't work out?

“Speed was missing. They expected me to do better and I could certainly do it, but I was in my first year, with a new team and a new bike both for me and for the team and one where in terms of engine it was not even the same as that of Toprak and Locatelli. Overtaking in the race was practically impossible when I started from the back and although I could see their data, and that of the other Yamaha riders, I had no expert in the team to give me a hand. I never knew what level I was at, or whether the problem was me or the bike. I arrived at the solutions too late and started to be quick when perhaps it was already Sunday, while you must start hammering as early as Friday. The results didn't arrive, but there was progress during the season, because the last race was the one with the smallest gap to the leaders. In the end, however, they wanted to change everything rather than give continuity to the project, even though both the team and I had improved."

Baldassarri: "With Orelac I could return to SBK with a Ducati"

In what spirit do you return to SSP?

“I return with motivation and desire for revenge. Last season I said that rather than return to SSP I would quit, and I thought about it a lot, because I was really on the verge of doing so. I said to myself: 'I've finally made the jump to the category, I feel like a SBK rider, and if they think I don't deserve this category then I'd better stop'. But then, with a cool head, the passion for motorbikes and racing prevailed even over the injustices of this sport. I'm starting from scratch, with a new project and with a new bike and team. I can't wait to start the season and try to win the title, also because after finishing second in my first year in SSP I can't but improve. The team has never achieved great results up until now and with me they have an excellent chance, so I think they will work hard to give 100% and I will do the same. The objective is very clear."

What convinced you to focus on the Orelac Racing project?

“There is a long-term matter, because they were a bit disappointed by the treatment they received from Kawasaki, but they would like to return to SBK. Just like me. The prospect would be to get on a Ducati and that would be very nice, given that now it is the bike of my dreams, as well as the best on the market. Nothing has been decided yet because I'm only tied to the team for a year, but I was intrigued by this possible project."

How was your first contact with the V2?

“I'm happy because at first glance I liked the bike, even though it wasn't a race bike, and we weren't in an official test. I immediately liked its bottom-up delivery, which reminds me a bit of the Moto2 Triumph engine, even if you can manage this better. Compared to the R6, it needs to be ridden with a more 'big bike' style to get the best out of it, so I think I have a bit of an advantage by getting on it after the SBK."


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