Rising Turkish star Can Öncü rode alone and dominated most of Friday’s action for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup at Assen. As light rain sprinkled the circuit during Qualifying the 13-year-old didn’t need a slipstream and was clearly quickest while a couple of groups chased him. Rory Skinner ending up second fastest with Kevin Orgis just behind.
Cup points leader Aleix Viu was fourth and the 16-year-old Spaniard is cautiously optimistic. “That’s not too bad, I think the position is OK and I think I can fight in the first group. I am only a bit undecided about the gearing as I changed it twice between sessions and am not sure which way to go, either rear sprocket offers some advantage and some disadvantage.”
“I know that rain is forecast tomorrow and last year I didn’t enjoy the wet here but since then I have had some good races in the rain in other championships so if it is wet I’ll just see how I feel about the grip and go from there, I think it will be OK and I can get a good result wet or dry,” concluded Viu with his usual smile.
Öncü almost perfect
Can Öncü is certainly the man to beat but he did slide off late in qualifying. “On that corner it was raining a little more but I was on a really good lap and wanted to push, it still surprised me because I didn’t expect to lose the rear like that as I braked. Still the bike is very good and we can still make it even better for the race I think so we will try something for the sighting lap and change back if it doesn’t work.”
Orgis, the 17-year-old German, is thrilled to be on the front row. “It was quite tricky with the rain coming and going but I was in a great group and I really enjoyed riding with Rory (Skinner) and Omar (Bonoli). They were riding really well, like wild animals but clever wild animals,” he added with a smile.
Skinner, the 15-year-old Scot, had a slightly different take on it. “Some of the group were doing a good job but others were just block passing and messing it up but I’m very happy to be second fastest and the bike is working well now, we went back to the settings we ran in the first race in Jerez and I’m happy with it. If it rains tomorrow, well it’s the same for everyone, nothing to worry about.”
Though second fastest Skinner starts from fifth on the grid resulting from a 3 place penalty he was given for causing a collision with Sean Kelly in Race 2 in Jerez.
Almost a turkish double
At one point the Öncü twins ran 1 and 2 at the top of the timing screens but Denis ended up 5th fastest just ahead of 15-year-old Italian Omar Bonoli and local hero Walid Soppe, the 17-year-old Dutchman. “I think I could have been a bit faster,” explained the Turk. “But there was rain around and I didn’t want to make a mistake, I think I can be quicker in the race.”
Soppe fell late in the session after a coming together with another rider but the Assen native was uninjured and less than seven tenths from pole.
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 16.00, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.