Can Öncü takes Rookies Cup title with win at Misano

Turk seals the 2018 crown after winning another classic race long battle

The Öncü brothers lead throughout the race at Misano, with Can eventually taking victory and the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup for 2018 to go with it. The 15-year-old Turks had to fight all the way with seven other KTM RC 250 Rs and while Deniz did most of the leading, a tiny error at the end of the race left him having to settle for eighth.

Filip Salač, the 15-year-old Czech, took a super-close second ahead of Spanish 15-year-old Adrián Carrasco as just 1.3 seconds covered the top eight at the flag.

For most of the race Can was not in a Cup winning position, with 50 points still on offer at the final round in Aragon, he needed to finish 13 points better his brother and closest rival Deniz. At one point, Deniz managed to break away by almost a second but that lasted less than a lap, with Salač leading Can and the rest back onto his tail.

“I can't believe what a perfect day this is,” beamed Can Öncü. “To win the Cup by winning the race is perfect. It was such a tough race. Early on I was not so comfortable, I felt that the grip was not as good as yesterday and my front suspension was not perfect. So I calmed myself down and started to understand the situation.”

“I realised that the others were not getting away but they were racing so hard that they were using up their tyres. So I waited for the right time to push. Then I went for it. It was still a tough race but I managed to slipstream past Salač and win. It worked perfectly. A huge thanks to all the people who work so hard to make the Cup work and to those who support us,” concluded the Cup Champion.

On the other hand, Deniz was left disappointed with how the race turned out: “It was totally bad. Yes I did most of the leading but in the end I went too deep and ran wide, three riders passed me and some more out of the slipstream on the straight. I fought back but then on the last lap Carrasco passed and blocked me, I pushed again but into the last corner I had a big rear slide and I was wide, right over the kerb. Not good.”

Salač is still waiting for his first win but it was another storming ride that produced another podium, and enough points to tie with Deniz for second going into Aragon. “It was a hard race and a lot of fun and I thought I could win it on the last lap but Can just got me out of the slipstream, I tried to get him back but I couldn't,” explained the Czech, who already has a Moto3™ World Championship ride lined up for 2019 with the Redox PrustelGP team.

Carrasco was thrilled but exhausted in third: “Such a tough race but I worked on a plan. Over the last three laps I could see everyone else was nervous, trying too hard and making mistakes. I kept calm and just pushed in the right places, it worked.”

Spanish 15-year-old Xavi Artigas might also have been on the podium, but took fifth behind Japanese 16-year-old Ryusei Yamanaka. “I am happy with that,” explained Red Bull Ring winner Artigas. “Yesterday I was struggling a bit but I talked to Dani and Gustl (Rider coaches Dani Ribalta and Gustl Auinger) and Santi (Rookies suspension engineer Santi Morralla) and they helped me a lot. So I enjoyed the race, I thought I could get on the podium but with two laps to go went a bit wide and got passed by three riders.”

Seventh was Brazilian 16-year-old Meikon Kawakami, who scored his best Cup finish after qualifying fourth. “A very good race, I am happy but it was a bit on the limit. I was losing out on the straights, so really had to be hard on the brakes. I am going to be training hard again next week to do even better in Aragon.”