Turkey leads Japan and Spain in the race for this year’s Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Just 47 racing laps remain this season to decide who will take the title and it is a battle of youth versus experience.
Leading, as he has done since his brilliant double on the KTM RC 250 R at the second event, is 14-year-old Can Öncü who is in his first Cup season. The Turk has a 28 point advantage over third placed Aleix Viu and it is the 16-year-old Spaniard who started the year confirming his status as pre season favourite with a victory in the opening weekend.
Viu was second in last year’s Cup and it has seemed at times that he has felt the weight of expectation in his third season. Not so Kazuki Masaki who is also 16 but little was known or expected of the Japanese as he made his Cup debut and with such consistent, error free pace he is now just 5 points behind Öncü in second.
Sitting between them, perhaps Masaki has just the right balance of speed and experience to come out on top. Or will Öncü’s flamboyance and bravado carry the day? When the pressure is even greater could Viu’s Cup history help him take what was denied twelve months ago?
Still a chance
There is just a single race at Misano but it is vital and of course it is not just a contest between those three. With 75 points on offer the next trio in the title chase still carry the dream; Ryusei Yamanaka, 15, from Japan, -54 points, Deniz Öncü, 14, Turkey, -55 points and Matthias Meggle the 17-year-old from Germany who is one more behind.
For the rest it is more about glory than points and that certainly is the focus for Omar Bonoli, the 15-year-old who is at home and looking for his first Rookies Cup podium. He will be thinking of the top step and don’t count him out, he was on a charge this year, faster and faster until robbed of the chance to ride in Brno because of a minor injury.
Robbed of four races because of more serious injury was Ai Ogura and the 16-year-old Japanese won in Austria so is likely to be taking a lot of points from the top guys in Italy even if he cannot be champion.
This weekend’s Rookies Cup race can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.
The single race is at 16.30 CET on Saturday, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.