Get to Know: Galang Hendra Pratama2018-04-12 18:34
Galang Hendra Pratama shocked the world last year as he stormed to a stunning victory as a wildcard in the final race of the 2017 FIM Supersport 300 World Championship, in the process becoming the first Indonesian rider to win a World Championship race. Having made history, the 19-year-old from Selangor is back to race in WorldSSP300 full time in 2018 with Team MotoX Racing as part of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge, so before the opening round of the season at Aragon on the 13-15th April, yamaha-racing.com got to know the talented young rider a little better…
Galang Hendra ended the 2017 AARC AP250 Championship in sixth overall, winning one race, and completed two wildcards in the WorldSSP300 Championship. He was running in the top ten during the race in Portimao before he was forced to retire with a technical issue, before returning for the last race at Jerez and taking a sensational victory. In 2018 he returns for his first ever full season racing in Europe to complete in the WorldSSP300 class full time as a part of the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge:
Galang, You have just had your team launch and you are now preparing for your first full-time season in the WorldSSP300 Championship, how excited are you?
"I am so happy to be a part of the Yamaha Family and involved in the Yamaha R3 bLU cRU Challenge! I have raced with Yamaha Indonesia in the AARC Championship for the last few years and I cannot wait to continue my career with Yamaha on the world stage. Honestly, it is hard to put into words how excited I am to have this opportunity to ride in the WorldSSP300 Championship full time and I cannot thank Yamaha enough for the chance."
Last year, you made headlines as a wildcard at Jerez by becoming the first Indonesian rider to win a World Championship race, what does this mean to you?
"It was an incredible feeling to win the race. I was completely taken back by how big a story it became, especially in Indonesia! Honestly, I was not expecting that. Now everybody seems to know my name, which is great, as this inspires me to improve myself every day so I can achieve my full potential. This kind of response just makes me want to win again!"
What has been the reaction in Indonesia to your victory?
"It was incredible! Everyone has been really happy for my success and excited about what I can do this year. For me personally, to go back to Indonesia as a World Championship race winner was amazing, and arrived home my whole family and all the Yamaha staff met me at the airport to celebrate my victory!"
You came over for your first wildcard in Portimao last season, having never even been to Europe and also having never raced a Yamaha R3 before, how hard was it to adjust?
"Yes, I had never been to Europe before I went to Portimao and had never ridden the Yamaha R3. I was riding the Yamaha YZF-R25 in the AARC, so while they are quite similar, it is still a different bike. Luckily, before Portimao, we did two tests on the R3 back home to get to the know the bike and to find a good base setting for me. Honestly, I didn't find it too hard, it was just a new challenge!"
What do you think will be the biggest challenge in your first full season in WorldSSP300?
"As this is my first season competing full time in the WorldSSP300 Championship, the biggest challenge will be adjusting to and learning all of the new tracks. Apart from Portimao and Jerez, I have never been to the other circuits, so a big part of my season will be to try and learn the tracks as quickly as possible in free practice. Most of the riders have a seasons experience under their belts, so this will be tricky, but I welcome the challenge and I am excited to get started as I want to try and achieve the best results possible."
How do you compare the standard of WorldSSP300 to the AARC AP250 championship you are coming from?
"The R3 is quite similar to the R25 I rode last year so there are not many differences between the bikes. I think that the competition level is higher in WorldSSP300 than in the AP250 class, which is what you would expect in a World Championship. Apart from this, the biggest difference is that the regulations in WorldSSP300 mean that the bikes are a lot closer in terms of performance, which means the racing is a lot closer and therefore more competitive. I find this exciting and challenging at the same time and it means the races are incredible to watch too!"
How important is it for Indonesia to have a rider in the World Championship?
"I think if you asked anyone, every country would like to have a representative in the World Championship, as it can have such a positive effect on the sport in that nation. In Indonesia, motorcycle racing is a huge sport and is followed by many people. Therefore, it is important for us to have riders in as many classes of the sport as possible, not only to give the fans something to cheer for but also to inspire the next generation. I really feel like I am representing my country when I race and I hope, that if I win, I can be an inspiration to others."
Do you think is it possible for you to fight for the title in 2018? What would it mean to you to become the first Indonesian World Champion?
"Yes, I genuinely believe we have a chance win the World Championship this year, even if it is my debut season. After my two wildcards last year, I feel in a better position this season as I have got to know better some of my opponents and some of the tracks. I know the level will be very high and I am under no illusions how big a challenge it will be to fight for the title but I truly believe that we can because, together with my team, we have been working very hard and each time I have ridden the R3 we have seen an improvement. This has given me good confidence heading into the season and, despite the obvious challenges, I hope to be fighting at the front throughout at each round. My dream is to become the first Indonesian World Champion, not only because I always want to win, but because I know how much it would mean to everyone in Indonesia. Honestly, it would be an honour and I would be so proud if that was to happen but first, we must focus on the first race of the season and getting the championship off to the best start possible!"
You can catch Galang Hendra in action at the first race of the WorldSSP300 Championship during Round 3 of the WorldSBK Championship at Motorland Aragon on the 13th-15th April 2018.
Source: Yamaha Motor Europe
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