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Return to Mugello for another open Rookies contest

Return to Mugello for another open Rookies contest

The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup returns to Mugello this coming weekend, after a two-year absence, for Race 3 of the season.

The hiatus means that none of the Rookies have campaigned their Cup KTMs at the classic venue, adding to the drama and uncertainty.

Mugello always seems to provide close racing and unpredictability goes along with the Cup. With just six points separating the top four in the championship table after Jerez it is obvious that no one has so far demonstrated the slightest edge over the opposition.

There are two 16-year-old Spaniards, Joan Mir and Jorge Martin, heading the table with 38 and 36 points respectively but the first of the Italians, 17-year-old  Manuel Pagliani also has 36. Pagliani matched Martin's score of a second and a third in Jerez and might have been favourite to cap that with victory at home but for the fact that he crashed at an Italian championship round on May 16th and broke his right collarbone so is struggling to be fit.

Unfortunately he is not the only Rookie to have suffered injury at an event outside the Cup. The same weekend, Makar Yurchenko was involved in a nasty start line accident in the CEV round at Le Mans and is now recovering from two broken arms.

Fourth in the points table is Japanese 14-year-old Soushi Mihara, winner of Race 1 in Spain. Thrilled as he was with that superb performance he was just as down and mystified when he could only manage ninth in Race 2.

With fourth and first in Jerez, Mir tops the table but a certain threat in Mugello will be Italian 15-year-old Stefano Manzi who was fifth and fourth after being in the lead pack on both days. He admitted that he just did not push hard enough when it counted and is determined to do so at home this coming weekend. In his third Cup season he has yet to take a victory and he could chose no better place to do it.

Mihara was the shock of Race 1 in Spain and it was Darryn Binder who shook up the Spanish-Italian quartet at the front in Race 2. The 16-year-old South African is looking stronger than he did in his first year and after sixth in Jerez 1, he led Race 2 before finishing fifth. He still needs to raise his game slightly to be a consistent threat but could well do just that and improve on his sixth in the title chase.

Behind Binder is the first of the debut season Rookies; 15-year-old Netherlander Bo Bendsneyder. He impressed with his smooth speed in Spain and that should make him a contender in Mugello. Toprak Razgatlıoğlu, the 17-year-old Turk and 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray are eighth and ninth in the points - both were close in Jerez but needed to find something extra. Razgatlıoğlu said he had to be more assertive and Ray find a better bike setting.

Matching Ray on 12 points are 13-year-old Spaniard Jaume Masia and 16-year-old Australian Olly Simpson, they will be thinking of podium placing in Mugello but so are their competitors, there is only a singe race, on Saturday May 31st, so that dream will only become reality for three teenagers.


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