And suddenly we are hitting the halfway mark this coming weekend in Germany. Races six and seven of the twelve that make up the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup for 2018. The Sachsenring is our midseason event and one of the toughest on the calendar, those tight and twisty downhill, uphill snaking tests, the ever faster series of lefts that go over the crest and screaming down, compressing the suspension, and up again.
The lap isn’t even finished, the lefts finally unroll into that incredible right that drops into the long downhill straight leaving just two very demanding lefts out onto the start and finish. Wow, what a place to show off all that has been learnt on the KTM RC 250 Rs in the first five races of the season.
Can in front
Cup leader Can Öncü, the 14-year-old Turk, is there for the second time, his nearest Cup challenger since the start of the season has been Spanish 15-year-old Carlos Tatay but he needs to accomplish a steep learning curve in his first Cup season. After two good rides in Assen, Czech 16-year-old Filip Salač is now tied on points with Tatay and hitting his stride, he needs a brilliant Sachsenring to take him home to Brno with a chance of wresting the Cup lead from Öncü.
Twin brother Deniz Öncü is fourth in the title chase just three points behind Tatay and Salač but a full 52 adrift of his bigger brother. It was Deniz who won Race 1 so convincingly last year in very tricky conditions and was going great guns I Race 2 before being forced out with a technical issue. Can won Race 2 following his third in the first outing.
Salač missed most of the 2017 season through injury so is calling on his memories of his first Cup season in 2016. He will be fighting for podium places with 15-year-old Spaniard Xavier Artigas who shared the podium with him on Sunday in Assen but had also been there on Saturday. Artigas is closing in on his points tally, standing fifth in the table.
Artigas shared the podium with Ryusei Yamanaka on Saturday in the Netherlands and the 16-year-old Japanese now stands sixth in the title chase but is still looking for consistency in his second Cup season as he slid off in Race 2. Fellow countryman Yuki Kunii, the 15-year-old, is seventh on points after winning in Mugello but missed Assen through a none Cup injury. He hopes his left hand is strong enough to race after undergoing surgery a couple of weeks ago.
Barry bound to be there
Coming on strong this year is newcomer Barry Baltus the Belgian 14-year-old who is the youngest in the Cup but has scored well in all five races and stands eighth. He has five more points than American 16-year-old Sean Kelly who has really stepped up in his third Cup season, led briefly in Assen after qualifying on the front row but slid off in Race 2.
It is a pivotal point of the season and as we swing into the second half it is with Can Öncü at the helm. Unless something dramatic happens this weekend in Germany.
This weekend’s Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.
Race 1 is at 16:30 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15:30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.