FRANCO IS BACK! Home GP and first time with Yamaha!
Franky makes his long-awaited return at the San Marino GP as a Monster Energy Yamaha rider after a 3-months break due to knee injury.
Franco started his first race weekend as a Factory Yamaha rider with great enthusiasm, getting a lot of work done with his brand new crew. FP1 began in dry conditions and Franky set a time of 1:33.570 on lap 8/14 that put him in 16th place, only 0.904 from the top. Unfortunately with just over 10 minutes left, heavy rain prevented Franky from putting any more laps in.
In the afternoon, with rain still falling, Franky continued to assess the performance level of his still healing left knee which, in his own words “is not in an ideal condition, but I’m certain that I’m able to ride.”
He was very impressive, ending the wet FP2 session in P13, the fastest of the Yamaha’s.
“It was a great day for me. It was really nice to start riding again and in these colours for this team and with this bike.” he said afterwards. “I’m really pleased with what happened today, and it’s a day that I’m going to remember, for sure.”
No rider improved in the wet afternoon session, so Franky ended day 1 in P16, eager to improve the next day and adapt to the new bike as soon as possible.
On Saturday, Franky unveiled a special helmet design, ‘Proud to be Blue’, celebrating being a Factory Yamaha rider.
During a dry FP3 he focused on trying to find a base set-up that he likes and, although he wasn’t able to set a top-10 time, he was pleased with his progress.
During Q1, Franky was very close to the top 2 and was a bit unlucky to come across a couple of yellow-flags during his penultimate lap. He didn’t make it to Q2 and qualified in P16, which, all things considered, was a very good performance that left Franky himself satisfied: “I’m really pleased with this performance. Considering where I am from a physical point of view and what I’vebeen through , I need to be – and I am – happy.”
On Sunday, during morning warm up, Franky found himself in quite a bit of pain on his knee, later admitting that “I wasn’t thinking that it was possible to face this race because I was struggling a little bit with the leg. But with some painkillers and adrenaline, I managed.”
In the race, starting from 16th position on the grid, he found himself in the busy mid-pack through the first corners and dropped a few place. Later in the race, he got into a steady rhythm and completed the full race, finishing in P18 after overtaking Marini on the last lap.
Overall, Franky was very satisfied with his weekend in Misano: “I managed to do the whole race and also be quite consistent. I understood a few things about the bike, so this is positive, and I’m really happy to be back. It will be very important to keep improving the setting of the bike, my feeling on the bike, and try some new items as well.”