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Japanese 15-year-old Taiyo Furusato only rode a KTM for the first time on Friday, had never seen Mugello before and yet took an incredible debut Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup victory.
He got the best of a 17 rider battle that started in spitting rain and ended with a cavalry charge to the line where Furusato just clung on to win.
Diogo Moreira crossed the line second ahead of David Muñoz but had exceeded track limits on the final circuit so was demoted one position. So 15-year-old Spaniard Muñoz claimed the 2nd step on the podium ahead of the 17-year-old Brazilian.
Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup: Race 1 in Mugello
That fabulous battle wasn't follow-the-leader, it was major position changes all the way. Noah Dettwiler, the 16-year-old Swiss, climbed from the back of the pack to lead a Rookies race for the first time. Pole man Marcos Uriarte dropped to the back and the 16-year-old Spaniard finished 12th. Collin Veijer was brilliant at the front in the tricky early laps but the 16-year-old Dutchman was 11th at the flag.
Amazing battles all the way but Furusato's victory stood way out. The fact that he took the lead on lap 4 was sensation enough, riding the RC 250 R for the first time, he didn't look on the edge either. He smoothly held the advantage for a few laps before the slipstreaming pack demoted him.
It was as though he took time to reassess because when he hit the front again in the final laps he was even more certain and composed, he eked out enough of an advantage so that he could not be passed on the slipstream run to the line.
After winning the first 4 Asia Talent Cup races of the season he had added a sensational Rookies Cup debut win.
“I'm so so happy, as you say, first race, first victory, first time at Mugello and on the KTM, all first, but I could win the race.”
“In the race I could improve and everything felt perfect for me. Yesterday was the first time I had ridden a KTM but I found its positive points and the negative points, Today I could use the positive points and work with those.”
And what about tomorrow? He laughs, “Of course I will win the race, or I want to win the race, that's all.”
“The race was very very good because yesterday was difficult for me. The feeling with the bike was not so good. Today it's much better the feeling with the bike is good and I'm very happy with it. The track was OK, even with a little rain I had a good feeling. Now we can focus on tomorrow and another good race.”
“The race was very good. In the last laps I tried to push very hard because in the first laps I felt the rain and I was careful. Then I tried lap by lap to fight back, tried to get positions each lap. Finally, on the last lap, I got to second and tried to win the race but I touched the green, that's the race.
“But I'm happy for the race and tomorrow we have a second one and let's see. I think the weather will be better, and I will try to win the race,” concluded the Brazilian who is now 1 point off the Cup lead, tied with David Alonso for 2nd.
“Today was an incredible race but more difficult than I expected. I did a good job through the race and the result is not bad but I am glad that we have another opportunity tomorrow. Tomorrow I will give more and get a better result.”
He crossed the line 5th only to lose a place for exceeding track limits on the last lap. “I have to say sorry to my fellow Rookie Mario Aji for the last corner,” added the Cup leader who upset the 17-year-old Indonesian on the last lap as they battled for position.
2 years ago