Heading to MotorLand Aragon, Can Öncü has already been crowned 2018 Champion of the Red Bull MotoGP™ Rookies Cup after his superb victory two weeks ago at Misano. But twin brother Deniz is locked in a titanic struggle with Filip Salač for second, both tied on points.
Two races of KTM RC 250 R action remain this year and it will be fascinating to see if the 15-year-old Turkish twins work together as they have in the past to make it an Öncü one-two in the standings. Salač, the 16-year-old Czech, is chasing his first victory - as well as second overall - in his final Rookies Cup race weekend before moving to Moto3™ with Redox PruestelGP next season.
Salač has pace and experience, both he and Deniz Öncü have been incredibly consistent this year, finishing every race and each only placing outside the top six on one occassion. Salač has had the upper hand on the last lap in the last two races, but that could well change in the two races this coming weekend. It will be that close.
In reality there’s probably very little that Can Öncü will be able to do to help his brother. Yes they will tow each other round in qualifying as they often do but Salač is experienced enough to get a good tow and put himself on the front two rows…
Come race time it will be 23 Rookies all going for glory and brotherly love will have precious little effect. Two 15-year-old Spaniards, Xavi Artigas and Carlos Tatay, are also after that second place in the Cup and both have already got a win to their name this year.
Artigas sits fourth, just seven points adrift of Salač and Deniz Öncü, while Tatay is sixth, 30 points behind that second place battle. Splitting the Spanish is Japanese 16-year-old Ryusei Yamanaka who has to make up 25 on those in second. He already has a 2018 victory and there are still 50 points on offer at Aragon.
In fact, there are intense battles all the way down the field. Adrián Carrasco remains a touch inconsistent as he turns 16 this week but put himself on the podium for the second time in Misano. He is seventh in the points table ahead of Steward Garcia, the 18-year-old Columbian, who is determined to claim his first podium after being so narrowly denied at the Red Bull Ring.
Just a couple of points behind Garcia are Barry Baltus and Sean Kelly with very different stories to tell. For Baltus, the 14-year-old Belgian, it is his first Cup season, but he has finished every race and scored a fourth back in Assen.
American 16-year-old Sean Kelly has made an impressive step forward in his third Cup season and has been in the battle for the podium several times. He is just one of the ten - or is it twenty - who travel to Spain with a personal podium picture already in their heads.