There is no better way to see the holiday season close on the Adriatic than eating pizza and watching MotoGP aspirants face off in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Excitement is guaranteed and with just a single race on Saturday afternoon the focus is even more concentrated. The pressure is on Can Öncü to keep his cool and on the other super fast teens to keep him off the podium.
The 15-year-old Turk has a 62 point advantage over his twin brother Deniz with two others also still with a mathematical chance of wresting the Cup from the kid who has topped the points table since winning Race 1 in Jerez way back at the beginning of May. Xavier Artigas, the 15-year-old Spaniard, and Czech 16-year-old Filip Salač would both need something of a miracle to take the title but as we say in Rookies Cup: 'It ain't over til the Bulls have left the building!'
From Zero to Hero
Last year Can Öncü picked up zero points in Misano but now it is a much wiser competitor who takes to the KTM RC 250 R. He has been on the podium at every race this year and is the first Rookie in 12 seasons to manage a run of 9 top-three finishes. It's tough to fight statistics like that but brother Deniz has been almost as good, scoring well in all races with the lowest finish a sixth in Mugello. In many years, results like that would see him in a much closer Cup battle.
So practically speaking it is an all Öncü affair for number one but there is plenty more glory to be fought over. Salač is chasing his first Cup win in his third season after scoring well all year and being on the podium four times. Artigas, in his second Cup season, got his first victory in Race 2 at the Red Bull Ring and is ahead of Salač by just two points in the struggle for third in the table.
It was Japanese 16-year-old Ryusei Yamanaka who took victory in Race 1 in Austria and stands 5th in the title chase but by his own admission the second year Rookie has yet to find the constancy of those ahead. Just two points behind him is 15-year-old Spaniard Carlos Tatay and the Jerez Race 2 winner is looking to get back on the podium late in his first year.
For those hoping for home country success it is unfortunate that only one of our two Italians can compete this weekend. 14-year-old Matteo Patacca is recovering from a broken arm he sustained at the Sachsenring. Pasquale Alfano turned 15 on Monday September 3rd and is looking to celebrate with a top-ten result after being a consistent finisher in his first Cup season.
This weekend's Rookies Cup race can be seen live on motogp.com - the single Race is at 16:30 CET on Saturday and the show starts 10 minutes before the race.
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