Get to Know: Galang Hendra Pratama
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!"
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.