Xavier Artigas put together the perfect final 4.318km on his KTM RC250 R to claim his first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup victory. Again it had been a huge group swapping places at each corner and while the 15-year-old Spaniard featured at the front as he had on Saturday it was only the perfect last tour that clinched it ahead of Cup leader Can Öncü and Filip Salač.
Just 1.3 seconds covered the top nine at the finish and any one of them might have claimed the top step. But Artigas has been learning all year and learnt from his second place yesterday. “I saw that Yamanaka led the last lap in Race 1 and it just wasn’t possible to pass him. So I knew I had to try the same thing. I got ahead and pushed hard, it worked.”
“I am so happy, it was a great race, very hard, just like yesterday, passing all the way. I knew I just had to pick the right time to get ahead, it might not have worked, but it did,” added Artigas who stood on the podium for the fourth time this year and moved up to third in the points chase, one of four with a mathematical chance of wresting the Cup from Can Öncü in the remaining three races.
Öncü keeps leading
Can Öncü, the 15-year-old Turk, kept his 100% podium run going with a great second, again from eighth on the grid. “The start was so much better with the new clutch, like starting from pole compared to yesterday,” he laughed. “So that made the race a bit easier but later I made a mistake on the brakes and went to the back of the group. I was very happy that it only took me a lap to get back to the front.”
“For me this was a very important race weekend, the home race for KTM and Red Bull, important for me to show that I am not a bad rider and I want to thank all the other Rookies for being such great guys to race with, so much fun. On the last lap I just wasn’t close enough to the front to win but I managed to past Steward (Garcia) on the run down to the last corner for second. Thanks to everyone.”
A tough final corner
Steward Garcia was one of the many that led, the 18-year-old Colombian had a great race, had lost the lead to Artigas on the final tour but looked likely to grab a podium until passed by Can Öncü then moved over by Salač through the final turn.
“He left a gap and I went for it,” explained Salač, the 16-year-old Czech who slipped to fourth in the points chase but could still win the Cup. “It was another hard race, again I came from eleventh on the grid and got up to second on the first lap. I tried to keep pushing all the race, got in front and tried to get away but I couldn’t. On the last lap I was fourth but managed to get third at the last corner,” concluded Salač.
Good rides all
It was Deniz Öncü who flashed across the line behind Salač to match his fourth from Saturday and this time he managed a smile. “I’m smiling but I’m not happy,” explained the 15-year-old Turk. “This time my start wasn’t so good from 14th, it was a really hard battle, so much overtaking everywhere. I really wanted to get on the podium and I will try hard to do better in Misano.”
There certainly was no smile from Garcia after his fifth. “I am not happy with what Filip did, just a bit more and I would have crashed. I’m not happy but that’s the race,” he said, visibly upset after a storming ride that looked as though it would better his previous best of fourth at Assen last year.
Try again in Italy
Carlos Tatay, the 15-year-old Spaniard, took a fine sixth, having been one of the leaders. “It was a great race, I felt strong, I just lost places at the wrong time but will be back even stronger in Italy.”
From Pole, yesterday’s winner Ryusei Yamanaka, the 16-year-old Japanese finished seventh. “It was hard, very hard, I need to improve the way things work on the brakes, that is where I lose places. We will work on that in Misano.” The single race in Italy is on September 8th.