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Yamaha: Locatelli needs big result to restore confidence

Yamaha team boss Paul Denning feels Andrea Locatelli needs to secure a big result to regain his confidence and live up to his potential in the World Superbike Championship.

Andrea Locatelli, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

Locatelli has struggled to build on his stellar rookie campaign in 2021 where he marked himself out as a star of the future, scoring just a single podium so far this year at Assen - and only after Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea and Yamaha teammate Toprak Razgatlioglu took each other out while battling for the lead.

While the Italian rider has still been consistent and has finished inside the points in all but one race, solidifying fourth place in the riders’ standings, it’s the gap to the leading trio of Rea, Razgatlioglu and Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista that has been seen as a cause of concern.

Moreover, the 25-year-old has been outscored by the likes of Michael Ruben Rinaldi (Ducati) and Scott Redding (BMW) in recent races, while at times he has even struggled to beat the satellite Ducati of Axel Bassani.

Denning feels a lack of confidence is having a negative impact on 2022 World Supersport champion Locatelli and he needs to mix with WSBK’s leading three riders to remind himself what he is capable of.

“Yeah, I think [it is] confidence,” Denning told Motorsport.com. “He's again doing a good job of not making mistakes, he is fourth in the championship. 

“Technically we had a couple of challenges in Donington that we didn't expect on his side. He had a good race in Assen when he finished second after Jonathan and Toprak crashed into each other. 

“I think he needs a result, he needs to sort of believe [in himself]. It's not only Locatelli, all the riders behind the top three need to fight with those riders for a race and believe they can do it. 

“Once you make that step then the next step of confidence is easier to find. Right now he needs a result and then he can build on that result.”

Andrea Locatelli, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

Andrea Locatelli, Pata Yamaha WorldSBK

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Locatelli was not shy of admitting that he needs to step up his game, particularly in the face of advancements made by Honda and BMW in 2022.

Not only the manufacturers’ championship is at stake, where Yamaha currently trails Ducati by 19 points, but Locatelli has only 14 points in hand over Ducati's Rinaldi in the fight for fourth in the riders' standings, with Honda’s Iker Lecuona another seven points behind in sixth.

“Honda is coming and BMW is coming, so I need to improve a little bit more,” he said. “With respect to last year, I am faster, also in the races, but I need to try and stay in the front and try to take good results. 

“Last year if I did the same race time [as in the second race at Most] I would have been in P4, and in Race 1 I would have been on the podium. 

“I’ve improved a lot in the race time but the result is worse. I'm not so happy about the results. I need to try to do something to improve a little bit more.”

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