The same trio of Carlos Tatay, Yuki Kunii and Barry Baltus who starred on Saturday put on another incredible display for 16 laps of Jerez in Race 2 of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.
This time it was Spanish 15-year-old Tatay whose KTM RC 250 R flashed across the line first ahead of Japanese 16-year-old Kunii while Baltus, the 15-year-old Belgian, counted himself fortunate to survive a high-speed last lap crash uninjured.
Italian 15-year-old Matteo Bertelle mounted the third step of the podium after 14-year-old Frenchman Lorenzo Fellon was penalised 3 seconds for exceeding track limits. The pair had been part of an incredible seven-man race-long battle that went all the way to the flag.
Almost a replay
The profile of the race was similar to Saturday's thriller but this time the leading trio broke away quicker and the chasing bunch was bigger. Learning from Race 1, Tatay, Kunii and Baltus did not try to pass each other at every turn but they certainly were not cruising, they broke the race lap record, running two tenths quicker than on Saturday.
This time it was Tatay who snatched the upper hand on the last lap to win. “I felt really good on the bike and with the track today. I thought a lot about things overnight and just tried to do a better job than yesterday. It's great to leave here tied on points with Kunii, I was tied for the lead last year but this is different. I know more than I did then, we are going to Mugello which I love and I'm feeling confident.”
Kunii said that the weekend was, “Almost perfect. Yes today I felt that the bike was sliding around a little more than yesterday, the track temperature was a bit warmer and in the middle of the race I felt I was a bit more on the limit than yesterday. I just didn't have that extra bit to push. When it came to the last lap I tried to pass Tatay but I knew he would defend well and he did. Mugello is next and I have a great feeling there so I can't wait,” concluded last year's Italian GP winner.
Almost a disaster
Baltus knew that he could not leave it to the last lap as he did in Race 1. “I went for it with over two laps to go. I knew that I had to get far enough ahead so that they could not pass me out of the slipstream. I managed that for the last two laps. On the last lap I got onto the back straight in front, wanted to get across to the left for the next corner and didn't realise that Carlos was there, I hit him,” explained Baltus. The collision sent him out of control and though he fought to stay on he was eventually pitched off, hit the barrier and was squeezed by the bike.
“It was a big fast crash, I'm lucky, I'm not injured,” confirmed Baltus. “I want to thank all the guys for a great weekend, it really feels like a win, I had such a good race and got away with a crash like that so big thanks to Alpinestars and their air suit.”
Suddenly, with Baltus out that seven-man battle was for the podium and it was Fellon who flashed across the line third only to be then penalised. “It was tough, I know I had exceeded the track limits but that last time was the last corner and the bike was sliding I couldn't stop it,” explained the disconsolate Fellon.
Heartbreak for him but celebration for Bertelle. “Wow, what a great race, we were fighting all the way, just passing at every corner. It was hard even to get near the front of the group and on the last lap I just gave it everything, incredible.”