Westby Racing has enlisted the services of Yamaha World Superbike test rider Niccolò Canepa, who will compete aboard the team’s Yamaha YZF-R1 Superbike at next weekend’s GEICO Motorcycle MotoAmerica Superbike Speedfest at Monterey.
Canepa will be a fill-in rider at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in place of the team’s regular rider Mathew Scholtz, who was injured in a crash during this past weekend’s Superbikes at The Brickyard event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
A rider with vast experience, Niccolò is the first Italian in history to win an Endurance World Championship. He has also competed in MotoGP and Moto2, World Superbike, the Superstock 1000 FIM Cup, the Italian Superstock Championship, Italian Supersport Championship, and the Superstock 600 UEM European Championship.
“First of all, I would like to wish a speedy recovery to Mathew, who was unfortunately injured last week at Indy,” Niccolò said. “I’m really excited for this opportunity to race the Westby Yamaha R1 next weekend! I’m more than ready to race, and I love Laguna Seca. For sure, the level in MotoAmerica Superbike is really high, and it’s going to be a challenge, but I know I can count on one of the best bikes and teams in the field.
“For a long time, I’ve wanted to race in MotoAmerica, and I’ve been following the Championship ever since the beginning in 2015. This is a really good opportunity for me. Thanks to the Westby team for choosing me, and I can’t wait to ride!”
Westby Racing team manager Chuck Giacchetto said, “As a team manager, you have to deal with ups and downs. When we received news that Mathew's accident was going to sideline him for (WeatherTech Raceway) Laguna Seca, we discussed the idea of not even going to Laguna, honestly. We considered the extra three weeks or so that we’d have to start developing the Yamaha R1 for 2021. But, after thinking about it more, we owe it to our sponsors—and especially to Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., and to MotoAmerica—to show up and continue to put on a great show.
“We decided that we needed a rider with Superbike experience and with knowledge of the R1 Superbike. So, after lengthy discussions with our crew chief Ed Sullivan, I brought Niccolò Canepa's name up to (team owner) Tryg (Westby) because Nick is the official test rider for the Yamaha World Superbike effort. Now, not only do we have a great rider on board, but we also are ultimately moving forward with our testing as planned. I personally am very happy to have Nick ride for us and give us feedback about our Yamaha R1 Superbike.”
Westby Racing team crew chief Ed Sullivan said, “A decision on a replacement rider for Mathew was never going to be easy, but with Niccolò, we have two big plusses. One, he has a wealth of experience in MotoGP and World Superbike, and we believe he will be very competitive on the Westby bike, and two, he can draw from his experience aboard the current World Superbike Yamahas, to give us feedback that will help our program as we move into 2021.”