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Hanika against the rest in Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup

Hanika against the rest in Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup

Returning from the thrilling Texas trip, the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies are in action again at Jerez in southern Spain this coming weekend for races three and four in the chase for the Cup. Austin winners Bradley Ray and Karel Hanika are looking to maintain their momentum while the rest of the 23-strong field are determined to turn things around.

Hanika, the 17-year-old Czech, dominated both of the pre-season tests at Jerez and certainly goes back as favourite but, as he found out in the first race in the US, form counts for little when the lights go out. He set off from pole but had no answer to Ray's speed once the 15-year-old Briton overcame a mediocre start.

Hanika turned things around following some overnight changes to the bike and was a well deserved winner on Sunday. It was bike setting that played a huge part for those who found success or frustration in the first two races and everyone returns to Jerez with questions about bike setup even after pre-season testing.

The Spanish threat

Last year it was Spanish newcomers Marcos Ramirez and Diego Perez who shone in Jerez. 15-year-old Ramirez was second in Race 1 and Perez, also 15, was third in both races. They return to Jerez a year wiser and Perez was particularly strong in Texas.

And the Italians

This year it was Italians Manuel Pagliani and Enea Bastianini who looked strongest of the new boys as they qualified second and third in Austin. While 15-year-old Bastianini struggled with bike setting in both races and finished 11th and ninth, 16-year-old Pagliani was extremely fast and extremely smooth. Race 1 saw him finish fourth and in Race 2 he was again racing at the front and fighting with Hanika virtually to the flag.

So the Italians will certainly be worth watching in Jerez, but Rookies Cup always throws up surprises and there really is no telling who will star in Spain. Unfortunately 16-year-old Japanese Yui Watanabe will not be riding; she is recovering from the small break in her hand and the knock to her hip sustained in Race 2 in Austin and will rest until Assen.


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