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Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup preseason concludes

Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup preseason concludes

The final day of preseason testing for the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup wrapped up at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday.

The final day of preseason testing for the Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup wrapped up at Barber Motorsports Park near Birmingham, Alabama, on Tuesday. 15-year-old Tomas Puerta of Medellin, Colombia, turned in the fastest lap at the test and 13-year-old Hayden Gillim of Owensboro, Kentucky, the cousin of 2006 MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, won an exciting 15-lap race practice.

Puerta turned in his fastest lap of the weekend (1´35.113) in the simulated race, one that saw a six-rider pack fight for the lead. Those top six riders were all within 0.7s of each other on the timesheets, but the smooth Colombian racer emerged as the quickest.

`The competition was very tough out there, so I am quite happy to have earned the fastest lap of the test,´ said Puerta. `Getting to ride this track in close quarters with my fellow racers was a lot of fun, and I can´t wait to do it for real this weekend. I´m happy with the progress I am making with my riding.´

Gillim crossed the line before any other rider in the simulated race. After an early red flag caused a restart, Gillim got a good start off the line and ran near the front for all 15 laps. `We were out there just having fun,´ said Gillim. `We had a good time, seeing what we can do and making some crazy passes. I don´t know how serious everyone was but the lap times were pretty quick. I´d like to do this again next Sunday, but I think some of these guys might be looking for a different result.´

Rookies Benny Solis of North Hollywood, Calif., Leandro Mercado of Argentina, Joey Pascarella of Vacaville, Calif., and Toriano Wilson of Bermuda joined Gillim and Puerta in the lead pack of the simulated race.

13-year-old Solis finished second, but said he was looking for race strategy rather than a super-fast time. `I was trying not to show too much out there,´ said Solis. `I dropped back from first to sixth a couple of times because I didn´t want to show all my lines.´

`It makes me excited for this weekend,´ said Mercado, age 16. `There are lots of kids in the lead group who are very fast, and it´s tough to keep your position. I think the fans will like our race here on Sunday.´

`It was a blast,´ said 15-year-old Pascarella, who took fifth place. `I don´t know how serious everyone was about winning but the guys out there were trading it up quite a bit.´

Wilson ran with the lead group much of the session but crashed when his footpeg ground out on the track surface. He remounted to take 12th spot in the simulated race.

Jesse Stevens of Lawrenceville, GA, finished sixth, while Emerson Connor of Burlington, Ontario, Canada, was seventh and just under half a second behind Stevens. Jake Gagne (Ramona, Calif.), Cameron Gish (Shingle Springs, Calif.), and Frankie Lee Gillim (Owensboro, Ky.) rounded out the top ten.

16-year-old Otavio Lucchini proved his toughness this test. Otavio crashed in the morning session, bringing out the red flag. The Brazilian highsided near turn six and was sore after his crash, but was determined to continue testing. Otavio, who hails from Sao Paulo and is the tallest of the Rookies, has gained momentum in the previous tests and has moved steadily up the time charts of late. Unfortunately, he crashed again in the simulated race but says he will be ready to go this weekend.

In the morning session, Solis (1´37.584) was the quickest, followed by Frankie Lee Gillim and Puerta. Travis Wyman and Austin DeHaven rounded out the top five.

`I was a little disappointed by the number of crashes we had out there today,´ said Rider Coach Kevin Schwantz. `One thing I do like is that the riders are willing to mix it up and are learning from each other. I´m pleased with the progress everyone is making, and I want to see the entire field within a three-second gap. I think we´re ready to race this weekend.´

The rookies will race in support of the AMA Superbike event this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

Red Bull AMA U.S. Rookies Cup fastest laps - Barber Motorsports Park preseason test, Tuesday April 15, 2008
1. Tomas Puerta, Medellin Colombia 1´35.113
2. Hayden Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 1´35.237
3. Benny Solis, North Hollywood, California 1´35.248
4. Joey Pascarella, Vacaville, California 1´35.250
5. Leandro Mercado, Cordoba, Argentina 1´35.293
6. Toriano Wilson, St. Davids, Bermuda 1´35.808
7. Emerson Conner, Burlington, Ontario 1´36.877
8. Corey Rech, Liverpool, New York 1´36.946
9. Cameron Gish, Shingle Springs, California 1´37.037
10. Bryce Prince, Bakersfield, California 1´37.328
11. Jesse Stevens, Lawrenceville, Georgia 1´37.332
12. Austin DeHaven, Los Angeles, California 1´37.374
13. Jake Morman, Loganville, Georgia 1´37.806
14. Frankie Lee Gillim, Owensboro, Kentucky 1´37.859
15. Travis Wyman, Macedon, New York 1´38.039
16. Luciano Ribodino, San Francisco, Argentina 1´37.896
17. Jake Gagne, Ramona California 1´38.039
18. Jacob Cunningham, Kimberly, Wisconsin 1´38.052
19. Garet Tomlinson, Aledo, Texas 1´38.283
20. Otavio Lucchini, Jundiai, SP, Brazil 1´38.746
21. Huntley Nash, Marietta, Georgia 1´39.945
22. Austin Medrano, Mustang, Oklahoma 1´40.203
23. Corey Alexander, Ossining, New York 1´40.759

MotoGP, 2008

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