Jonas Folger made a return to the World stage at Catalunya for the first-ever World Superbike meeting at the circuit.
Folger is currently competing in the German IDM championship and has proven to be the class of the field so far aboard his Yamaha R1, with wins coming to him with ease, as you may expect of a rider with the class he has.
The step up to the world stage this weekend, however, proved that the WSBK paddock is not a place you can just arrive at and be instantly competitive, the level is unbelievably high and any number of riders on track can win a race. This was proven at the Montmelo track when 3 riders aboard 3 different manufacturers won a race each.
In these races, Folger took home a 12th in Race 1, a 10th in the shorter Superpole race and an 11th in Race 2, hovering around the Ten Kate Yamaha of Loris Baz in Race 2, which is the closest bike you can compare to Folger’s machine.
Qualifying was a disaster, no time was set due to bike issues so that meant he would line up 21st and dead last on the grid for his WSBK debut. Yet come race 1, that really didn’t seem to matter, and he ended up only 0.5s off a top 10 after a fantastic surge through the grid, showing the undoubted quality he has. The shorter Superpole race was even better, after grabbing the top 10 he had aimed for after passing two riders on the final lap, and ending up only 12 seconds off the race win.
The final race, Race 2, was certainly a further improvement. In Race 1, he ended up 22 seconds off the race win, in Race 2 that was down to 20. Improvements all the way even though he would come home 11th, he certainly showed why he is in the frame for a full-time WSBK ride for 2021, now we know Michael Van Der Mark will jump ship to BMW. There are certainly worse options out there for Yamaha, and although he lost his MotoGP test rider role in less than savoury circumstances, Folger is still loyal to the Iwata concern and would no doubt jump at the chance to appear on the world stage again in blue.
Featured image- www.worldsbk.com