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Martin snatches last lap Rookies pole in Aragon

Martin snatches last lap Rookies pole in Aragon

Setting out with the best chance of taking the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup for 2014, points leader Jorge Martin placed himself on pole position for the final two races of the year.

The 16-year-old Spaniard has his sole championship rival standing behind him on the grid as 17-year-old fellow countryman Joan Mir qualified fourth.

“Look at those last-lap blisters,” grinned Martin, having just pulled his gloves off at the end of the session. “No, but it was OK, not that hard. We worked on the bike through the day and I think it is just about perfect now. There were a lot of guys chasing me in that session but in the end I didn't care, I just went for it.”

Not as happy was Mir who needs a double victory with Martin failing even to score a tenth in either race for him to take the Cup. “It was a difficult qualifying, I came in to the pits once, the tyres were not really at the right temperature, I didn't get as many laps as I would like but the bike is OK. It all comes down to the races and I just have to win.”

For the rest it is just about getting the maximum from their KTM RC 250 Rs and getting on the podium. Misano winner Stefano Manzi sits alongside Martin on the front row having headed the timing screen for much of the session just to be elbowed sideways in the final minutes by 0.008 seconds. “That's not so much is it,” commented the 15-year-old Italian with his usual broad smile. “I was in front most of the time and the bike is pretty good but we will probably make a small change for tomorrow, it should be a great race.”

Completing the front row is 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray. “Yes, that was good. There was a lot of traffic, I had a lot of people around me then I backed off and just rode on my own for a few laps until I got in a position to chase after Mir, Pagliani and some of the others. Then I got my head down and put in the good laps. The bike setting is pretty good, I am happy with it everywhere but down the straights,” he concluded with a grin.

Having grown from a diminutive 14-year-old when he joined the Cup in 2012 Ray has become one of the lankier Rookies. Behind Ray on the grid, having qualified sixth, is Bo Bendsneyder, already a pretty tall 15-year-old Dutchman and first year Rookie. “That was a good session, there was a lot of traffic though, I never really seemed to have a clear lap. So I was putting in consistently quick laps but never the perfect qualifier. The second row is OK though and the bike I think is good, we made a change towards the end but that wasn't good so we'll go back for tomorrow.”

Two fifteen lap races will decide both the Cup and the final two podiums of the season. Martin is very clear about his approach. “I will try and push at the start and see what happens but I am not going to take any risks. I am thinking about the championship and it is more important to try and take that tomorrow so I can go all out for the race win on Sunday,” he states with a smile that is far from arrogant.


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