The 2017 edition of the bLU cRU Masterclass that took place on October 26th, 27th & 28th in Latina, Italy, was one for the memory bank. For the first time ever, Yamaha Racing put together an exclusive event where some of the sharpest young YZ125 riders were able to train and learn with some of their road-racing counterparts in a two-day Masterclass.
The bLU cRU graduates, made up of five off-road racers and eleven on-road racers, some as young as 14-years-old with the oldest being 20-years-old, all have one thing in common; they have high hopes of a successful career in their chosen disciplines of motorcycle racing. The event ran to a schedule that has been mindfully designed to encourage, nurture and develop aspiring professional motocross and road-race riders.
Former vice-world champion and FIM Motocross of Nations winner, with multiple Grand Prix wins to his name, Steven Frossard spent two-days with the five motocross riders on a new motocross track “Le Grugnole” in Nettuno, Italy. The youngsters also had a chance to get to know, learn from, and test their speed against the two riders that could be their future teammates, MJC Yamaha Official EMX125’s Thibault Benistant and Rick Elzinga.
The five motocross riders fortunate enough to attend this year’s bLU cRU Masterclass won their place following their inspiring performances at the YZ125 bLU cRU Cup SuperFinale, which took place in front of more than 65,000 fans at the most prestigious motocross event of the year, the Monster Energy FIM Motocross of Nations. The stunning venue of Matterley Basin, England hosted the SuperFinale that advanced the top-three finishers, 16-year-old Arvid Lüning, 16-year-old Frederico Bassi and 14-year-old Kevin Cristino, as well as two carefully selected wild-card riders, 15-year-old Jörgen-Matthias Talviku and 16-year-old Pierre Moine.
After a warm welcome and introduction to the event from the bLU cRU Ambassadors, Steven Frossard and MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 team owner and manager Loïc LeFoll, along with the on-road bLU cRU Ambassadors, 2016/2017 Endurance World Champions Niccolò Canepa, David Checa from the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team and GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team’s Federico Caricasulo, and Yamaha Motor Europe representatives, bLU cRU Racing Manager Alberto Barozzi and Marketing Coordinator Shravan Krishnan, the motocross protégées were able to meet and mingle with the young R3 bLU cRU Challenge riders at dinner.
On Friday 27th, the riders leapt out of bed for an early breakfast before heading to the track at 08:00am where they geared up and walked the track with MXGP hero, Steven Frossard. Frossard pointed out things they need to look out for while riding. Corners where it’s obvious that the inside line would be faster, and likewise for areas of the track where they’d gain an advantage from the outside line. He explained his thought process while walking the track such as analyzing the compound, looking for certain rocks or soft spots, and areas that will offer the most traction, among many other things. After a track walk, the enthusiastic students made sure to warm-up and stretch their muscles before firing up their YZ125’s and hitting the track.
Right from the very first lap on the track, the boys were running an impressive pace with the level barely differing from the fastest Official Yamaha rider. Frossard carefully observed their riding technique and style during the first free practice before pulling the group aside to work on particular sections.
One section pitted the riders against each other on an area of the track where the ‘outside berm’ was favored. Little did they know, the unused inside line was faster. He made sure they understood by squaring them off against one another. “You take the inside line, and you take the outside line”, low and behold, the inside line was faster. This helped the students to open their eyes up to what the circuit has to offer.
After a morning of learning and ripping laps, they were treated to a well-deserved lunch-break before heading out on track again in the afternoon. Another ‘free ride’ allowed them to get hard on the throttle of their YZ125’s, blast berms and throw some whips on the fun jumps. With adrenalin flying high, they were pulled aside once more to tackle a rough and slippery downhill. Frossard revealed the smoothest line and explained why it would be the best line to take by pointing out certain holes, edges, and areas of traction that would make braking more effective. He did the same with the 90-degree corner that followed before putting some florescent cones on the track to make out braking and acceleration points.
Seeing the progress that had been made after a driven day of riding and training, the boys left the circuit pumped and ready to share their experiences and excitement with the road racers, who they eventually teamed up with for a quick run and some fitness training in the gymnasium before another group dinner.
Following a nice typical Italian style dinner at the hotel restaurant, the riders were interviewed in private by the bLU cRU Ambassadors and key Yamaha Racing personnel, to have a better overview of their day-to-day lives, schooling, hunger, desire to race, things that are factors when only one of the five mega talents will be selected as the YZ125 bLU cRU Cup winner where he will be handed a GYTR kitted YZ125 to race inside the 2018 EMX125 championship with the support of Yamaha Motor Europe and a place on the MJC Yamaha Racing Official EMX 2018 EMX125 Championship.
Activities of Saturday 28th were further brightened by the attendance of one the sport’s greatest, former World Champion, Yamaha engine developer and Monster Energy Yamaha Factory Racing Team Owner, Michele Rinaldi. Michele was impressed by the venue and set-up of the track and also by the speed and talent of tomorrow’s stars. He enjoyed watching a 20-minute friendly race before sitting down with the group of youngsters to offer his invaluable knowledge of racing, engine development and ways that they can improve and progress in the world of motocross. This included explaining the significance of being a good sportsman, and that means having a good attitude on a day-to-day basis, treating everyone with respect, and the importance of taking the good with the bad and the happy with the sad. “Hold your head high and never give up, just keep pushing. When you want something with all of your heart, your hunger and passion will get you there.”
Michele’s advice inspired the gifted youngsters before lunch and their final outing on the track where their technical skills were boosted with more work on bike control, braking, accelerating and line-choice.
At 15:00, the riders and their families packed up and went to the Il Sagittario road circuit in Latina where the motocross kids discovered a new fantasy of perhaps testing their skills on tarmac one-day after witnessing the R3 riders in action and going up-close with the fierce looking YZF-R3 bikes.
Inspired and ecstatic with the experience and knowledge that the bLU cRU Masterclass has offered them, the entire group of on and off-road racers were bought together for a small prize giving ceremony where they received certificates congratulating them on their success in racing thus far.
The winner of the YZ125 bLU cRU Cup will be announced on Wednesday 1st of November. Registration for the 2018 YZ125 bLU cRU Cup will then open.
bLU cRU Racing Manager
“This year’s Masterclass was amazing. The organization of the event was perfect and in the end all of the people involved, especially the riders and their parents are so happy. The quality of the riders was so high, it was more than what we expected and that is something we are extremely happy with. The bLU cRU ambassadors did an outstanding job. They developed a good relationship with the riders, they were always there for them, not just as a coach and a bLU cRU Ambassador, but as a mentor and friend. This is what we want because there is a chance to race the European Championship for our young riders and this is a dream come true for them, so it’s important that the riders and families have a good feeling with Yamaha and the bLU cRU racing program: which provides a starting point for the riders to learn the basics of being a professional and it will help them achieve the goal of possibly racing MXGP one day. I feel that this is the case and this is what we have achieved, in pure Kando spirit. On Wednesday 01 November we will announce the winner.”
MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 Team Owner
“I am really happy with how the Masterclass went. We had two fantastic days on the track organized by Yamaha. It is so important for the young riders to have this opportunity to work with the bLU cRU Ambassador, with Steven Frossard and also to ride with my riders as they have already been professional young riders for one year already. I have seen a lot of good things over the past two-days. The riders are already at quite a good level, but two or three riders stood out. It has been nice for me to see the riders for who they are, not only on the bike but also off the bike as well. Their attitude around the other riders, in the gym and at the hotel, breakfast, dinner and their attitude around the team and with their brothers, sisters and parents as well. I am looking forward to next season.”
bLU cRU Ambassador & MJC Yamaha Official EMX125 Coach/Mentor
“This was one of the nicest experiences I have had. It was so amazing to teach these skillful young riders. These kids are very lucky to have such a great program behind them, the bLU cRU Cup offers them the best opportunity to learn and to progress in their careers. All five of the riders were so motivated and this made my job easy and really fun to do. It is definitely going to be difficult to choose just one rider, but unfortunately we can only choose one. I only hope that the ones that are not selected, they take this experience and they stay with Yamaha, push hard and prove what we know they are capable of. I hope we can work with them again in the future”