Yamaha Motor Europe is delighted to announce that the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge winner Alfonso Coppola will make the step up to compete in the 2018 FIM Supersport World Championship with the newly formed GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Jnr Team. The 20-year-old Italian finished as runner-up by just one point in the overall 2017 WorldSSP300 Championship, after an incredible debut season that saw him record one victory and five further podiums in just eight races, with Coppola now focused on the next challenge in his career riding for an official Yamaha team onboard the YZF-R6.
The 2017 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge was the first of its kind and saw six young riders battle it out within the WorldSSP300 championship in their own competition. The prize on offer was a guaranteed Yamaha supported ride in a higher class for 2018 and Coppola secured victory in the challenge from his fellow bLU cRU Riders with at the penultimate round at Magny-Cours, before just missing out on the overall WorldSSP300 title in a dramatic finish in the final race of the season at Jerez.
Coppola, who spent two seasons competing in the European Junior Cup before joining the newly formed WorldSSP class in 2017, now moves up to the highly competitive WorldSSP class for 2018 where he will compete in the European Supersport Cup that takes place at all the European rounds of the 2017 FIM Superbike World Championship. He will ride for the newly formed GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Jnr Team, an offshoot of the full Yamaha GRT team that completed a clean sweep of the WorldSSP titles on offer last season after Lucas Mahias won the overall championship, with his teammate Federico Caricasulo helping GRT to secure the Team and Manufacturer titles as well for Yamaha.
Having had three seasons to learn the tracks on the WorldSBK calendar, Coppola is confident that he can adapt to the Yamaha R6 quickly and is already looking forward to his first official test with the GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Jnr Team on the 22nd-24th of January, before the first round of the European Supersport Cup at Aragon (Round 3 of the WorldSBK Championship) on the 13th-15th April 2018.
Alfonso Coppola – GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Jnr Team Alfonso Coppola
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Jnr Team
“I am very happy to be making the move up to WorldSSP and to do so as an official Yamaha rider is even more exciting! I have never worked with an official team before and I know that this represents a huge opportunity for me to take the next step in my career. I realise I have to make the most of a chance like this and I have been working hard during the winter in the gym and with the Yamaha R6 to prepare in the best possible way for the first round at Aragon. I want to thank Yamaha and the GRT team for the faith they have shown in me and this incredible opportunity they have given me. I cannot wait to start the season and I am determined to repay their belief in me!”
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Jnr Team Manager
“I am very happy to be able to be a part of the incredibly important Yamaha bLU cRU project, which I feel is vital to helping to develop the next generation of World Champions, with Alfonso the first rider on the road racing side to have made the step up to WorldSSP after winning the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge in 2017. Since the end of the season, I have spent quite a bit of time with Alfonso and I have been very impressed. He is a great guy, very focused, and he had a superb 2017 WorldSSP300 season. He was unlucky to miss out on the title by just one point but showed that he has all the skills and potential to be a world-class rider. I have also been impressed with his professionalism and we have worked hard with Yamaha to ensure that we can provide him with the best possible package to showcase his talents. I cannot wait for the first official test at Jerez, as while Alfonso has been training extremely hard at home, this will be the first time he will officially get to meet up with the team and his Yamaha R6. It will be interesting to see how he compares to everyone else in the class, although obviously, it will take time for him to adapt to the bike. This, of course, also means that we now have three riders in the class, reigning WorldSSP Champion Lucas Mahias and Federico Caricasulo competing for the World Championship, and Alfonso in the European Supersport Cup. Not only will Alfonso get a chance to learn from Lucas and Federico but it also means we have a third rider to collect and compare data, which will see the whole team becoming stronger as a result plus, of course, more chances to get on the podium! I know how keen Alfonso is to get started at the Jerez test and we are all excited to see how he does in 2018 and to be involved in this exciting bLU cRU project from Yamaha.”