WorldSBK star Garrett Gerloff on rebounding from ‘shock’ of negative backlash

Garrett Gerloff says he's pleased to have worked his way through the impact of negative exposure, saying it makes him much stronger for 2022 WorldSBK season

Garrett Gerloff - GRT Yamaha

Garrett Gerloff admits he was ‘shocked’ to endure the mental toil of negative publicity during his sophomore WorldSBK season last year but has vowed to come back stronger in 2022.

The American came into the 2021 WorldSBK season on the crest of a wave after exceeding expectations in his rookie 2020 campaign, scoring a trio of podiums that convinced Yamaha to upgrade him to spec-machinery for the following year with the satellite GRT squad.

However, after a strong start that added a pair of podiums to his tally, Gerloff began to struggle for consistency amid a swirl of attention that regarded him as reckless on circuit. 

Following criticism for causing incidents with Jonathan Rea in Aragon and Michael Ruben Rinaldi in Estoril, matters came to a head during the fifth round of the season in Assen when an erroneous attempt to take the lead at the first corner of Race 2 led to contact that sent title-contesting Yamaha stablemate Toprak Razgatlioglu barrelling into retirement.

Putting a major dent in the Turk’s title aspirations, Gerloff received a cool response from Yamaha and thereafter began to struggle for podium-winning form as searched for greater consistency.

The collisions also served to sharpen a negative spotlight on Gerloff, who admits he suffered with the backlash on social media. Heading into his third season with GRT Yamaha for 2022, the American says he is determined not to let the same thing happen this year. 

“I’m feeling really good. I’ve really been working hard in a lot of different areas getting my physical shape going and working on my mental side and everything,” he said. 

“I feel great. I was working a lot on the physical side but that’s the only thing you can visibly see. I’ve really been working on my head a lot also.

“I’ve just been reading a couple of different books on things, like mental toughness. 

“For sure, last year was tough for me. I’ve never really been in the spotlight like that, in such a negative way, so that was a bit like a shock.”

Despite the impact, Gerloff says he is now pleased to have faced up to the challenge and feels he is a better rider for it as a result.  

“I’m glad I went through it and it’s something everybody goes through, I imagine, so nice to get that experience out of the way,” he continued. 

“Been working on accepting everything and moving forward. I feel like I’m in a really good spot so going to try to keep chuckling along that way!”