Who is going to stop an Öncü lock-out? That is the question after the 14-year-old Turkish twins Can and Deniz topped the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup qualifying at Assen and admitted that they planned to make it a family affair in the two races.
Sean Kelly might be the answer as the 16-year-old American put himself on the front row for the first time leaving Japanese 16-year-old Ryusei Yamanaka to lead row two of the KTM RC 250 Rs ahead of the Spanish 15-year-olds Xavier Artigas and Carlos Tatay.
A team of two
“Yes, it’s a good day,“ admitted curly haired Can with his huge grin. “In FP1 and FP2 I was ahead by quite a good margin and in Qualifying I was also happy because my brother is with me and we can have good races I think if we are clever about it.”
“After some injuries this year I am now 100% so I hope we can have good races like last year,” concluded the 2017 double winner. So will he work with Deniz? “We’ll see,” was as far as he would go.
“Yes, we will,” admitted Deniz as he carefully pulled off his leathers, obviously not wanting to hurt the middle finger of his right hand that he hurt in a training crash. “I can’t work the brake the way I would normally, but that’s OK, here there is not so much heavy braking and it is good that it happened here, I couldn’t brake so well and I am fast. You should try it.”
They are going to be a tough act to beat but Kelly is up for the challenge. “I came here with a different mind set. Mugello was a solid weekend but I knew that I had to do better on Friday. I really worked on that here and it’s great to make it onto the front row. OK so qualifying is a bit of a lottery but the bike is working well and I think I can make a good race of it tomorrow.”
Tatay, who stands second to Can Öncü qualified sixth and the fastest of the Assen newcomers, steadily improving through the day, 16th in FP1, 9th in FP2 and just three-tenths off pole in Qualifying. Indeed the top 19 are separated by a single second. “Yes, step by step today,” smiled Tatay. “It’s not an easy track and in FP1 I didn’t like the bike settings, FP2 was better and we really made a big step forward in Qualifying so I think I can race with the guys at the front tomorrow.
It’s a fine line
So the twins may well not have things their own way. Simon Jespersen demonstrated the fine line between hero and zero with a string of three red helmets that made it look as though he would jump from 12th to the top of the timing screen but the 16-year-old Dane came across two slower riders and crashed before the end of the lap, as others went quicker he dropped to 18th in the list.
Similarly Australian 16-year-old Billy Van Eerde was fourth fastest after FP2 but fell off at the end of that session and again in Qualifying so lines up on the grid in 15th. Neither Jespersen or Van Eerde were injured
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.