Garrett Gerloff says he “expected more” from his MotoGP bow in the Dutch TT at Assen after finishing a distant 18th.
Gerloff received a late call-up to make his MotoGP race debut in the Dutch classic with the Petronas SRT Yamaha squad after regular rider Franco Morbidelli sustained a knee injury in training, the American having never visited the Assen venue before.
His only prior experience of a premier class machine was when he filled in for Valentino Rossi in Friday practice for the European Grand Prix at Valencia last term, though the GRT Yamaha World Superbike ace did well to qualify just 1.2 seconds adrift of Johann Zarco’s leading time in Q1 in Assen-albeit at the back of the 22-man field.
A messy first MotoGP contest that saw him struggle to pass a slowing Luca Marini meant he lost contact with the group directly ahead, limiting his chances of learning as he admitted to suffering to “flow” the M1 across the race distance, leaving him “disappointed with how far back I was” as he took the checkered flag in 17th,, 16 seconds back from Lorenzo Savadori ahead.
“It was a bit difficult, just trying to remember the whole start procedure with both start devices and trying to hit the button at the right time was challenging,” explained Gerloff.
“And then trying to go into the first corner with the carbon brakes and not being sure what the performance of them would be like when they were colder, so it was a lot to think about and I’m happy to get to the finish but I’m pretty disappointed with how far back I was.
“I expected a little bit more but the feeling with the bike wasn’t so bad but I found it hard to flow with it across the race distance, but I finished so I have to thank Petronas SRT and Yamaha for the opportunity.”
Gerloff said he found it tough to overcome the significant power advantage of Marini’s Ducati relative to his M1, revealing that at one point he ran through the gravel at the final chicane as he tried to dispatch the Italian-costing him crucial time to the riders ahead, remarking that he doesn’t like “being so far back.”
“It was good at the beginning because I was able to be with Luca Marini for a bit, I was hoping I could have passed him a bit easier and earlier because Valentino (Rossi) and some of the others were right there in the beginning and I felt I could maybe latch onto them but it was really hard to pass Luca as he was so good on the brakes.,” continued Gerloff.
“He also had more straight-line speed than me so it was hard to find a place (to pass), I tried a couple times and went off into the gravel at the final chicane because I couldn’t get my bike stopped so it was tough, but it was nice to open up a gap when I finally got past.
“I just don’t like being so far back and not being able to see the guys in front, but it was still fun.”
Rossi’s promising Dutch outing turns sour on Sunday
Petronas SRT team-mate Rossi meanwhile unfortunately failed to reach the line after crashing out only a quarter of the way through the encounter while trying to recover from a poor start that saw him plunge from 12th to stone last as the lights were extinguished.
The seven-time premier class champion reckons he could have had a “decent race” had he not lost the front at Turn 7, though admitted he wasn’t feeling “100% comfortable” prior to the crash.
“It was a shame because my pace was not too bad throughout the weekend, I could have had a decent race.
“Unfortunately I had a bad start, in the last two races I had better ones,” said Rossi.
“We changed something in the strategy in the start and I didn’t feel 100% comfortable, and after this everything became more difficult because when you are behind you always have a problem with the front tyre because you lose a bit of grip and it becomes very hot.
“I did some overtaking and tried to push and catch the next group but I lost the front, I was lucky that I’m OK because I crashed at very high-speed.”