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Can Öncü has the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup points lead and Ai Ogura plans to show that only absence from four races has kept him from winning a string of races and mounting a challenge.
The 16-year-old Japanese rider was quickest in both the second free practice and qualifying on his KTM RC 250 R but is still not satisfied. “Pole is OK but the bike setting is only about 80% right. I think we can improve it, I have a lot of thinking to do because it can be better front and rear. I really had to push hard to get that lap.”
Tomorrow and tomorrow
Ogura lies only 13th in the title chase, 94 points behind leader Can Öncü so is out to win everything. The 14-year-old Turk is a very different character with a completely different attitude. “No I didn’t get pole.... but that’s OK, that’s qualifying and tomorrow is the race, that’s different. I think I have a fast rhythm and I can do many laps like that, maybe the others can’t, we’ll see.”
“My bike isn’t quite right, it could be better in the front so we’ll think about changing it for the race tomorrow,” continued Can Öncü. He has a 17 point advantage over 16-year-old Spaniard Aleix Viu who crossed the line first in both races at the Red Bull Ring last year only to lose Race 1 for exceeding track limits.
Tomorrow may be cancelled - or laptimes at least
Like many others including both Öncü brothers, Aleix Viu had fast laps expunged for exceeding track limits during practice and qualifying but he was still fourth fastest. “That’s not too bad, we had to swap engines after second free practice and I am happy with what I have now. The bike setting isn’t quite right but Santi (Santi Morralla - Suspension Engineer) improved it quite a bit. I still can’t brake as hard as I want and turn in so we could still improve things. Still I can race with the others,” concluded Viu, who was 8 tenths off pole.
Just ahead of Viu and completing the front row is Kazuki Masaki, who has been incredibly consistent in his first Cup season and the 16-year-old Japanese enthused about another new Grand Prix circuit. “I’ve never been here before but it’s great, I really enjoy the series of lefts in the infield and we’ve got the bike working well, no problem. Being on the front row is important and I think I can have a good race.”
Tomorrow’s stars are rising
Newcomers to the Red Bull Ring also filled places fifth to eighth on the grid with Brazilian 15-year-old Meikon Kawakami showing that his performance in Brno was to be built on. Just behind in sixth is Ryusei Yamanaka, the Japanese 15-year-old, who also made big strides, took a podium in Brno and was fastest in FP1 in the wet this morning.
Second fastest in the wet but seventh in the dry Qualifying was Deniz Öncü, who had some technical issues. Last of the newbies was Adrián Carrasco; the 14-year-old Spaniard going quicker and quicker through his first season and eighth on the grid.
How to watch
This weekend's Rookies Cup races can be seen live on motogp.com and redbull.tv. Race 1 is at 16.30 (GMT +2) on Saturday and Race 2 Sunday at 15.30 - but the show starts 10 minutes before the race.
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