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Kent wins classic Red Bull Rookies opener

Kent wins classic Red Bull Rookies opener

Danny Kent won a stunning season opener from Daijiro Hiura and Daniel Ruiz. The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup podium was only decided at the last corner as 9 riders had started the last lap with a chance of winning.

Kent, the 16 year old Briton who also won at Jerez last year, just managed to deny pole man Hiura, the 15 year old Japanese and Spanish 18 year old Ruiz, the chance to pass him at the final turn. "I just pushed as hard I could through the last half a lap and was absolutely as late on the brakes as I could be at the last corner because I knew they would be right on me," said Kent.

After 16 laps where the lead changed at almost every corner and sometimes several times within a few metres, where there were 11 teenagers all with a chance of victory for much of the race it was Kent's cool head that gave him the win. A race so hard to win but very easy to lose with riders frequently clashing fairings and elbows.

Unluckiest was Harry Stafford, the 16 year old Briton who was right in the midst of the battle for the lead until he and Mathew Scholtz bumped with 5 laps to go and Stafford ended up in the gravel. "It was just one of those racing things," said Stafford. "I went inside and he didn't see me, half my fault and half his. The pace wasn't fast though, you would try to be smooth and get away but the others would just push past and slow us down."

The only man who ever looked like getting truly clear at the front was Hiura. Mid race he managed to get an advantage of 6 tenths of a second but that all disappeared with one mistake. "I also made a mistake at the end when I was trying to win, just small mistakes but that was enough," said the 2nd place finisher.

Ruiz was happy to be third having been pushed from lead trio back to 11th in one of the mid race clashes. "I thought it was going to be hard then. I just settled down and started to push forward, I didn't know how far I would get but on the last lap I was trying to win! That wasn't possible but I think tomorrow I can do it."

It was 17 year old Scholtz who led more than anyone else only to finally cross the line 8th. "It was pretty mad, I got 'T'-boned at least three times. On the last lap I got bumped and lost a lot of places, then going into the last corner I out-braked 3 people but then got pushed wide again. At least I know I can run the pace so the second race should be better."

Fellow South African Brad Binder had a great race and finished 4th. "That was a lot of fun, it was tough, the guys were all riding hard, I really enjoyed it and can't wait for tomorrow's race," said the 14 year old now starting his 2nd Rookies season.

Just behind Binder in 5th was Jake Gagne, the 16 year old Californian who suffered in practice because he had missed most of the pre season Valencia test after crashing and wrenching his ankle on the first day. "That wasn't bad considering starting from 12th on the grid. The bike still needs work, on the brakes the forks were bottomed out so I hope we can fix that for tomorrow and get a bit higher up."

Best of the first time Rookies was 14 year old German Florian Alt in 6th. "That was so much fun, I can't believe it. It was the first race and I never thought I could make it to the top 6, I was really just thinking about scoring a point. I learnt so much from the first race and I learnt respect for the other riders, there are a lot of fast Rookies!"

Just behind him another newcomer, the 14 year old Niccolo Antonelli who had done so well to qualify 5th. "I let the clutch out too fast and the others shot away at the start," said the Italian who completed the first lap back in 14th. "Then I just had to try as hard as I could, I think I did most of the passing on the brakes. I hope I can make a better start tomorrow and get a good result."

Alejandro Pardo ended the day with no points after a crash on lap 10. The 16 year old Italian had led the race briefly after a superb charge where he dragged a group with him and caught the initial lead bunch of 5 thus creating the 11 man epic clash.

Tomas Vavrous was one of those 11 and the 16 year old Czech looked set for a top 6 finish until a tangle at the last corner left him on the floor. He remounted to take 11th. The 2nd of the 10 race series starts at 3.20pm CET on Sunday and can be seen live both on the Rookies website and on Red Bull Web TV, a new section of


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