How Did Gerloff Get The Call?

Circumstances, relationships and “Nad”.


 

Gerloff at Indy early in his career. Brian J Nelson

1993 world champion Kevin Schwantz was counseling a friend who was about to race for the first time in many years. The friend asked him a few questions on riding: Did you hold the brake on after the apex? Did you try and stand the bike up ASAP exiting the corner? How did you do it?

The “How did you do it?” made Schwantz’s eyes flicker.

He replied: “Let’s not underestimate the face that when I raced I had nad, okay?”.

Which meant that technique is an important factor, but not larger than desire.

When the news of Garret Gerloff getting a possible stand in ride on Valentino Rossi’s MotoGP bike this weekend at Valencia broke, for a second it almost seemed like American MotoGP fans were stunned? Why? Because in 2020 American riders don’t actually get opportunities like that, at all. Typically there is a line of Spanish, Italian and French riders who get the nod for an opportunity to guest race Rossi’s M1.

So how did it happen? Circumstances, relationships and “nad”.

Circumstances:

Rossi tested positive for COVID-19. He’s missed two races with the virus and may miss more. He tested positive this week and is taking a daily test in hopes of a negative test result.

Yamaha may be in need of a replacement rider for Rossi’s seat. Gerloff is obviously available. And there (as in Europe).

Relationships:

Spies. When Yamaha MotoGP team manager (and ex-racer Maio Meregalli) came in to help run the Yamaha MotoGP team (He’d managed the Yamaha WSBK team previously) he came with his then rider Ben Spies. They literally walked in the garage together for the first time. Maio Meregalli and Spies remain close friends. Spies is “advising” Gerloff. Certainly Spies’ judgement that Garret is ready for this opportunity carries heavy weight at Yamaha.

Monster. Gerloff is no stranger at MONSTER and he does not present a energy drink sponsor conflict as other riders do. MONSTER is the title sponsor of the Yamaha MotoGP team, and is Rossi’s personal sponsor as well. Energy drink sponsor conflict is a very large factor in 2020; that is why Cal Crutchlow was never invited to and frankly was never interested in joining the factory Honda MotoGP team.

LKK. (Bob Moore is not his manager.) Ex Yamaha WSBK team man Laurens Klein Koerkamp is Gerloff’s manager.

Nad:

Let’s face it, Gerloff could have simply accepted a ride here in the USA and ridden out his career winning MotoAmerica races. If you can win in MotoA’ it’s a decent pay check; not as much as a factory Indian ride in AFT, but it’s still good money; and you’re on TV in front of your friends and family. However Gerloff wasn’t interested in that path. He opted out and went to Europe on a B level Yamaha Superbike. His success there, and his attitude (polite, he’s from the Yamaha school of never saying the wrong thing) has not been overlooked.

Obviously he had more success in WSBK than many expected.

He didn’t hit it as hard as his mentor Spies did but then again who has?

 

 


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