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Hiura in charge of Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup practice

Hiura in charge of Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup practice

Daijiro Hiura stamped his authority on the first day of practice for the 2010 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season by seizing pole position for Saturday's opening race at Jerez.

The 15 year-old Japanese rider survived a last lap stunner from Harry Stafford with the 16 year-old Briton just three-tenths slower and two-tenths faster than 17 year-old South African Mathew Scholtz.

Completing the front row of the grid is 18 year-old Spaniard Daniel Ruiz but the sensation of the day was Niccolo Antonelli. The 14 year-old Italian heads the second row of the grid for his first Rookies race, faster than the more experienced Alejandro Pardo and Danny Kent with another newcomer, 14 year-old German Florian Alt, completing the second row.

Hiura took charge of practice at the end of the first of the two sessions and was confident even then that it was possible to go quicker. "I'm not happy with the way the bike is pulling through the first corner, we need to work on the rear suspension a bit before the second session and then I should be able to improve on the lap time."

With the changes made he set out fast right from the start of the second session and put in a first flying lap just fractionally slower than his practice time from the previous session. That was not bravado, he was working on his weak point from 2009, the opening laps of the race. He then settled down to put in a steady string of good laps without initially improving on that first session time.

It was towards the end of the session that he really stretched things again with quicker and quicker laps and looked to have things very much under control. Only that final lap from Stafford that really offered any threat and the Briton admitted it was an on-the-limit effort. "The tyres were sliding around quite a bit so I came in for a suspension change to see if we could make it any better. There were then only four minutes left and I knew I could only do a couple of flying laps so I went for it. The rear was still sliding around a lot and as I crossed the line at the end I thought, 'well if that isn't good enough I don't know what is,'" concluded the happy Stafford.

Scholtz as pleased enough with third having stepped on to the third different race bike in as many weeks. "It was a bit strange getting back on the KTM but after a few laps I got used to it. I am pretty confident that I can have a good race," said Scholtz who ran away at the start last year. "I don't think I'll be able to that again, though I'll try."

Antonelli was not sure what all the fuss was about after qualifying on the front row, he was more concerned that he still had the bike to sort out. "In the first session the front was not right, bouncing around, we made some changes for the second qualifying but I am still not happy with it."

Even less happy was Jake Gagne, one of this year's favourites who is back on the third row with the 12th best time. "That's not good enough. It's not that the ankle is hurting me that much, I forget about it once I get going but it is the track time we missed because of the crash at the Valencia test, the bike isn't sorted and we are a couple of days behind the other guys," concluded the 16 year-old Californian.

Ruiz is the best hope for the home fans, fourth fastest. "I hoped to be there on the front row but it was hard. At the start of the day I wasn't comfortable, I couldn't find the line and turning in point etc. Gradually it got better and we also made the bike better. We did some different settings on the rear suspension because it was sliding and pumping so I got a better feeling. But in the final session the rear was sliding again and I didn't really feel comfortable on the bike. For the race we will see but I will try and run with Daijiro and the other fast guys."

Alt did a great job to be eighth fastest, "I really enjoyed that, it was a lot of fun and fast! I seemed to be a bit down on top speed but perhaps I can improve through the last corner onto the straight. I hope I can make a good race and get a few points."

There were quite a few fallers, fortunately without injury except 14 year-old Spaniard Xavier Figueras who crashed in the final session, lost a chunk of skin from the ring finger of his right hand and is unlikely to ride any more this weekend.


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