Kunii takes Jerez Race 1 win from Tatay and Baltus

Japanese rider claimed victory on Saturday to kick off his 2019 Rookies campaign in style

It came down to a blistering last lap between Yuki Kunii, Carlos Tatay and Barry Baltus to decide the first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of 2019. From pole position, Kunii, the 16-year-old Japanese, got embroiled in a seven man battle for the lead but put in the perfect last lap to win.

Pressuring all the way to the flag, Spanish 15-year-old Tatay just got the better of Belgian 15-year-old Baltus. Though the race was clearly between the trio for the last three laps, David Salvador, the Spanish 15-year-old having his first outing on the Rookies Cup KTM RC 250 R had been a big threat for most of the 16 laps.

Those four only got away after the early seven-way battle split at about half distance leaving Lorenzo Fellon, Haruki Noguchi and Jason Dupasquier with their own thrilling battle to the flag.

A second win

Kunii won in Mugello last season before suffering an injury in a non-Rookies Cup race that wrecked his mid-season but after an excellent preseason test and an almost perfect practice and qualifying on Friday he was full of confidence. “Honestly the race was a bit harder than I expected,” explained Kunii frankly. “The other riders made a good start and it was a big group in the first laps, everyone pushing very hard.”