Carlos Tatay took the second Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup win of the season and the weekend at the Circuito de Jerez-Angel Nieto, facing down Race 1 winner Can Öncü and passing him at the final corner to make the two equal at the top of the Cup standings. Deniz Öncü, who was just off the podium in Race 1, moved up to take third on Sunday in another close encounter and thrilling race for the series.
Can Öncü thought there was still another lap remaining as did his twin brother Deniz and 16-year-old Czech Filip Salač who's KTMs flashed across the line together, third and fourth. They had seen an official lap board showing 2 laps-to-go the previous time round and didn't see a chequered flag.
Tatay had made no such mistake but almost blew his chances when he outbraked himself at the back straight on that final lap. "I knew it was the last lap from my own pit board and I braked late, to get ahead of Can, I braked too late, a Rookie mistake," laughed Tatay. "The rear wheel came up and I went wide, Can got back in front."
Tatay's last chance
"I knew I had very little chance to catch him from there but I put everything into the last half lap," continued Tatay who leaves Jerez tied on points with Can Öncü at the top of the table. "I was really pushing through the last fast rights and close enough to get him on the brakes into the final turn. It is a great feeling to win at my first Rookies Cup weekend and I must thank all those around me who have been so much help."
It was clear what happened at the end though. "I was watching the official lap board, I only use my own board for the gap ahead of me and behind. So I saw the official board count down, 3, 2, then 1 but then there was the red flag round the track, there was no chequered flag. Of course that is why I didn't defend at the last corner, for me it wasn't the last lap. Still, thanks to everyone for a great weekend."
Third and fourth also swapped from Saturday with Deniz Öncü crossing the line just ahead of Salač. "It was a better race today, the track was more slippery but I kept pushing. My start wasn't so great but I managed to get into the lead group. In the middle of the race I just made a few small mistakes and Tatay and my brother got away a little. Still I am happy to be on the podium and at the next races I will do better."
Salač holds joint third in the Cup points with Deniz Öncü and was not thrilled with the way the race went. "I think I was running the wrong gearing compared to the others. Accelerating on the straights, the early changes we were making together but as we changed up they would be changing earlier than me and I just couldn't get in a position to try and pass on the brakes. There was a bit more wind and it was hotter than yesterday."
"I was just planning for the last lap and how I might pass Deniz, I saw 2 laps-to-go but the next time round it was the end of the race, I lost my chance to pass him.
Japan just behind
It was two Japanese who came home fifth and sixth with 16-year-old Ryusei Yamanaka placing one better than yesterday but still frustrated after qualifying third. "At the beginning of the race the speed was not bad but in the middle of the race I was riding as hard as I could and when the others started to get away I couldn't make the bike go any quicker."
Yuki Kunii, the 15-year-old first year Rookie, was much more content. "Yesterday I had a bit of a problem with the rear suspension settings but we sorted them out for today and I was a lot happier with the bike. I had a good feeling and could run in the front group. Mid race I just made a few small mistakes though and when I lost contact I couldn't get back to them again."
It was a great start to the 12th Rookies Cup season and Sunday's earlier three GPs showed what the ex Rookies are now up to with more than half the nine podium places going to alumni.
Ex Rookies finished first and third in Moto3 with Philipp Öttl and Marcos Ramirez, there a Rookies one-two in Moto2 thanks to Lorenzo Baldassarri and Miguel Oliveira, new 2019 Red Bull KTM signing Johann Zarco finished second in MotoGP™.
To cap a great day, ex Rookie Josep Garcia presented the Rookies trophies, he is 2017 Enduro World Champion and also 2017 ISDE winner for KTM.