3 years ago
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Aleix Viu crossed the line first but fellow Spaniard Marc Garcia won the first ever Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race at the Red Bull Ring. Pole man Viu was penalised for exceeding track limits and thus gave up first spot to 16-year-old Garcia, while Cup points leader Ayumu Sasaki, the 15-year-old Japanese rider, completed the podium places.
Viu’s race on the KTM RC 250 R was almost perfect as the 15-year-old led most of the laps - just as he had done a few weeks ago at the Sachsenring. This time he was only threatened by Garcia as the pair stretched an advantage over Sasaki, who was having his own private battle with fellow countryman Kaito Toba but got away from the 16-year-old Sachsenring Race 2 winner in the closing stages.
It was a fascinating race but not the 10 or 12 man battle that many of the riders expected. Viu set off from Pole but could never really break away as he had hoped after being consistently quickest through practice and qualifying. “I was happy with the race even if not happy with the results,” explained Viu, who quickly regained his omnipresent smile after the initial parc fermé disappointment. The bike has been perfect from the first session and I am really happy with my rhythm, I am not going to change a thing for tomorrow.... except stay on the track. I was pushing to the limit but only went over a couple of times until the last lap when I braked later and went over a bit more,” admitted Viu - who put in his fastest lap on the final circuit and did close the points gap to Sasaki and Fernández.
The Rookies Cup lap record - as well as race win - goes to Garcia, who did a fantastic job of chasing Viu and arguably pushed him into exceeding those track limits on the final lap. “Yes it was a great race and I did everything that I could, my plan was to pass him at the last corner but he came across and took the line,” explained the Catalan rider. “The bike was great, I changed my lines a bit through the race and looked for the best way. I really thought there would be a lot more riders up front and of course tomorrow it might be a very different race, we’ll see.”
Sasaki is only really happy when he is winning but he managed to laugh about the battle with Toba that perhaps cost him the chance of victory. “He got past me and he really wanted to be the best Japanese, but then so did I,” explained Sasaki with a big grin. “We were messing each other up so I thought I would follow him for a lap. His pace wasn’t that quick though and we were not going to catch the Spaniards. So I passed him but my gearing wasn’t right for running alone. I had geared high for the slipstream but of course there wasn’t one, I was too far behind and it was impossible to catch them. For tomorrow I will run the same sprockets as Aleix and Marc.”
Toba had done a great job of catching the leaders after cutting through the pack from 11th on the grid. “Yes early on it was all working well and I could do some good lap times and catch the leaders. Late in the race though I started to have trouble with the gears and just couldn’t continue to fight. It will be right for tomorrow though.”
Raúl Fernández finished fifth and lost points to Sasaki but still holds second in the title chase. “It wasn’t a great race, I didn’t make a good start and though I got to the front of the second group and hoped to go with Rufino to catch the others, we couldn’t. Through the fast sections my suspension was too soft, something we will change for tomorrow.”
Race 2 sees the Rookies return to the track on Sunday for another battle.
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