The Yamaha bLU cRU project is a truly unique scheme designed to identify, nurture, and develop the best young riding talent from around the world, providing a clear career path for them to fulfil their dreams on the world stage. Starting in 2015 for off-road riders, the road-racing side of the project began two years later with six riders selected to compete in the 2017 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship as a part of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge. The first year of the project saw it deliver on its potential, with 20-year-old Italian Alfonso Coppola winning the challenge and just missing out on the overall championship by one point with all six bLU cRU riders impressing throughout the season.
On the 26th-28th of October in Latina, Italy, 11 of the best performing riders in their national R3 Cups got the chance to showcase their potential at the first Yamaha R3 Masterclass to Yamaha Motor Europe's bLU cRU Racing Manager Alberto Barozzi and bLU cRU Ambassadors David Checa & Niccolò Canepa from the GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team, GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team's Federico Caricasulo and winner of the inaugural Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, Alfonso Coppola. The Masterclass allowed the riders to demonstrate not just their ability on track, but also the qualities that Yamaha look for in a rider away from the track, such as the ability to learn, how they work with their team, their attitude, and much more.
From these 11, five were selected to join Hendra in the WorldSSP300 Championship onboard a Yamaha YZF-R3 in 2018 after the Indonesian rider impressed in two wildcard appearances this season, including his stunning victory at the last round in Jerez. These six will benefit from the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge rider package, dedicated to supporting young riders in the international racing environment. This includes racing kit parts, a race service support at the track, a full paddock clothing kit and much more. The riders will participate in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge within the championship, with the top rider at the end of the season moving up the racing pyramid with an official Yamaha supported ride in a higher class the following year, just as the inaugural winner Coppola will do in 2018. It is not the end of the road for those who did not make the cut for the 2018 season, as they will compete in their national R3 Cups next year, with another chance to impress and be invited back to the 2018 Yamaha R3 Masterclass.
The first ever Yamaha R3 Masterclass took place alongside the second edition of the Yamaha YZ125 bLU cRU Cup Masterclass, featuring Yamaha MXGP legend Steven Frossard, that searches for the best young off-road riders to take part in the YZ125 bLU cRU Cup, a project that has grown into the most successful feeder program into the European EMX125 Championship - with 15-year-old Estonian Jörgen-Mathias Talviku emerging as the victor. The Yamaha bLU cRU project continues to go from strength to strength in both disciplines as it grows in stature, with the scheme one of the only of its kind in motorcycle racing and, despite being in the early stages, its success is evident for all to see already.
GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team
"It was very difficult to assess the riders in two days because you can't get to know someone completely in that time, but I think that the ones we have chosen were the stand out guys. We didn't pick the riders just because they were fast, which they all were, but based on our impressions of the many different things that go into making a Yamaha rider. I do believe that one of the guys will go on to become WorldSSP300 Champion next season as the level was very, very high and all of the riders selected for 2018 really impressed me. I look forward to seeing them race in WorldSSP300 next season, and welcome them all to the Yamaha family!"
GMT94 Yamaha Official EWC Team
"I am really happy to announce the new bLU cRU riders for next season. I really believe we have selected the best riders to represent Yamaha in the WorldSPP300 Championship next season. I saw a lot of potential in the guys we have selected from the Masterclass, not only are they fast, they are professional, showed great attitude, had good technical knowledge and they are ready to race on the world stage. I did not expect the riders to be at such a high level, but they impressed me massively. Obviously, there is always room for improvement and they will learn a lot during next season. I see so much potential in the six that have been selected, I cannot wait to see them ride next year in the WorldSSP300 Championship and I hope that one of them can go on to lift the title!"
GRT Yamaha Official WorldSSP Team
"The selection process was very tricky, simply because of the very high level of everyone that attended. I was so impressed by the young riders! They were very fast and everyone gave it their all. It is never easy to try and judge a rider in just two days, but by the end, I had a clear picture in my head of who I thought should be picked. Honestly, I can't stress how good everyone at the Masterclass was but I think we have made the right selection and I am very pleased for the guys that have made it through. It will be awesome to see them in the WorldSBK paddock next year and I wish them good luck in WorldSPP300 in 2018!"
2017 Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge Winner
"The Masterclass was quite simply incredible! To get to ride with all these young talented guys was brilliant and to learn from David, Niccolò and Federico was incredible for them...and for me! It was great to be able to pass on my experience of riding in WorldSSP300 for Yamaha this year and I feel that the new bLU cRU line up is very strong, they are young, fast, and have great attitudes. I think the quality of the riders reflects how much effort Yamaha have put into bringing through the best young talent and I hope the guys continue to work hard and make the most of this incredible Yamaha support."
Yamaha Motor Europe's bLU cRU Racing Manager
"The first R3 bLU cRU Masterclass completed the 2017 program, where the best riders in their respective national R3 Cups/Challenges from around the Europe where picked to come to this event. Overall, I am so happy with the results, all 11 riders did an incredible job, not just on track, but off it as well. I truly hope each and everyone one of them took something away from this unique experience, getting to spend two days learning and riding with our bLU cRU Ambassadors. The final selection was very tough, as everyone performed so well but the five that have been selected, alongside Galang Hendra, should be delighted with their achievement as they have earned it. There are all young, fast, and hungry for success and will be excellent additions to the Yamaha family. We will do our best and use all of the resources at our disposal to support them next season as they compete in the WorldSSP300 Championship and I think they will make us proud. I would like to thank all of the Yamaha Motor Europe staff involved in this event, Team MotoX Racing for providing brilliant support throughout the two days and, of course, the bLU cRU Ambassadors David, Niccolò, Federico and Alfonso. This is just the beginning of the Yamaha adventure for these six young riders!"