What has happened to touted future MotoGP star Garrett Gerloff in WorldSBK?

Garrett Gerloff admits the fallout from his clash with team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu at Assen has had a damning effect on his mental health amid poor form

Garrett Gerloff - GRT Yamaha

Garrett Gerloff has admitted the fallout from his potentially title-defining collision with Yamaha team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu has taken its toll on him mentally following a slump in form compared with the start of the 2021 WorldSBK season.

The American made his WorldSBK debut with GRT Yamaha in 2020 following an eye-catching turn in the domestic MotoAmerica series, turning around a conservative start to life in the world championship with a run of strong podium-winning form towards the end of the year.

Rewarded with a factory spec Yamaha R1 for 2021, Gerloff proceeded to maintain the momentum into the new season, landing six top five results - including two podiums - during the opening four rounds, which in turn earned him a surprise MotoGP debut with Petronas SRT Yamaha at Assen.

However, amid the strong efforts were criticisms from riders that he was riding too aggressively, notably clumsy collisions with Jonathan Rea at Aragon and Michael Ruben Rinaldi at Estoril, while he crashed out of a podium-winning position at Donington Park too.

It was his shaming clash with Razgatlioglu, however, sharpened scrutiny on his riding, the American diving for the lead at turn one after a strong start, only to clatter into the side of his title-challenging Yamaha team-mate to knock him out of the race.

Though the pair cleared the air - despite some choice words from Razgatlioglu in the direct aftermath - Gerloff admits he was stung by the widespread criticism that appeared to validate earlier concerns, while he remains haunted by the potential implications it could yet have on Yamaha securing its first WorldSBK title in 12 years.

“I definitely wouldn't have imagined that things would have gone the way they have. It's been a difficult year. I expected more of myself and I'm just disappointed with how things have gone. I wish I could change some things for sure. I'm working on trying to continue to change those things and to come back to it to where I feel like I should be and can be. 

“I just feel so bad for my team, I’ve put them through hell this year. I feel like we've had a couple of good moments, but they've been overshadowed a decent amount by just some other things that have happened. I am really working to turn things around because I know I can do this, and I know who I am and it's just really difficult with the things that have happened this year. 

“They don't line up with who I know I am. That's definitely a difficult thing. I’m doing the best I can to try to get back on track and to try to get back to where I know I can be.”

Garrett Gerloff eager to show Yamaha he can recover WorldSBK form

Unfortunately for Gerloff, things didn’t improve during a key weekend in Barcelona, scene of his first podium 12 months ago and the start of an upturn, when he crashed out of a wet Race 1 on the warm-up lap.

While Gerloff is confirmed to be remaining with GRT Yamaha for 2022, at a time when in-form works rider Andrea Locatelli - whom he was outpacing prior to Assen - has now snatched the limelight, the American is hoping the firm will give him time to rediscover his best and keep him on a factory-spec machine.

“It's difficult mentally. I've never been in that situation before. I've never had anything like this happen in my career. So, it definitely feels like new territory. Just trying to move on from it. I feel like I'm working on it. So just day by day. And like I said, I know who I am. And I know that I'm not that. Just trying to get back to being me.”