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18 days ago
By Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup

The best Viu is from pole at the Red Bull Ring

First ever Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup pole in Austria goes to Aleix Viu

Aleix Viu, the 15-year-old Spaniard, has taken pole position at the Red Bull Ring after heading both free practice sessions on his KTM RC 250 R – with the pole lap actually a fraction slower than the time Viu achieved in FP2. Compatriot Marc Garcia will begin the race from P2 for a Spanish 1-2 on the grid, ahead of Cup leader Ayumu Sasaki who came across the line to grab P3.

“I had a good run to catch someone in FP2 and that is always a good incentive,” said Viu. “In qualifying I set the times on my own so I know that I can do it both ways. I think I can go away, I’ve got a good rhythm going. The bike was perfect from the first lap of practice, I have a great feeling and I just love the track, it is absolutely beautiful.””

Second fastest Marc Garcia disagrees, affirming that anyone could win it. The Spaniard thinks the victory will be much closer-fought: “For a really quick lap here you need a slipstream and I think there will be a very big lead group in the race. I am really happy because I normally qualify on the second or third row so to be second quickest is very different for me. We changed the strategy, normally I practice alone but we knew you had to have a slipstream here so I went with the other guys and it worked out well. The bike is good so I am looking forward to a great race. It is so tight with a lot of riders in the same second.”

Cup leader, Ayumu Sasaki, was not thrilled to be ‘only’ third fastest, but has a good start position for the racing ahead. “You do need a good slipstream here and I was looking for the right chance but just couldn’t find it,” explained the Japanese rider. “In the end I saw that there was just a minute to go so I had to find my own space and do it by myself. The bike is good though and I like the track, it’s new, it’s different and I think it will give us a good race.”

The man of the moment is Filip Salač, the first year Rookie who will begin the race from P4. “That’s so great,” enthused the 14-year-old Czech rider, who headed the timing table towards the end of FP1. “In the first free practice I was already enjoying the new track, mainly right handers but a lot of fun. Then we changed the bike a bit for the second session and I wasn’t so happy with it. The guys sorted it out for qualifying though and in the second half of the session I really got going. For the race... I have no idea, I have never qualified so high up before!”

According to P5 qualifier Raul Fernandez, there will be “ten or twelve riders battling for the lead tomorrow.” The rider second in the points table couldn’t quite get the bike quite set up as he wanted.

“It wasn’t really perfect,” admitted the double winner at the Dutch TT. “We spent a lot of time trying to get the bike right. I still have to work on improving it but it will be like the Sachsenring with a lot of riders up front, in fact there will be even more than at the Sachsenring. It is a beautiful track and a lot of fun, it will be a great race and you just have to work out how to be in front at the end!”

The lights will soon be going out for the Rookies’ ‘homecoming’ race at the Red Bull Ring, with Race 1 set to get underway at 16:30 local time (GMT +2) on Saturday.