From his first pole position, Ryusei Yamanaka took a superb first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup win in Austria. The 16-year-old Japanese fought a huge lead pack all through the 17 laps of the Red Bull Ring, flashing across the line just ahead of Xavier Artigas, the 15-year-old Spaniard and Cup points leader Can Öncü.
The 14-year-old Turkish twins had not qualified well in the drying conditions and while Deniz charged through from 14th to the front very quickly, brother Can went backwards from eighth and had a big struggle to get that rostrum finish.
The entire race was an absolutely thrilling fight with Yamanaka making a perfect final thrust on the last lap, out-braking everyone into the second tight right hander. “I had that planned,” explained the Japanese who was third in Race 1 last year. “I tried it a few laps earlier but got in too deep and ran wide, lost the drive on the exit. I knew I could do it again though and not make the mistake.”
“I’m very happy with both my first win and first pole. It was a very hard race all the way, people overtaking at every corner it was very intense. I needed that last lap plan. The bike was very good but I think we can work to make it even better for tomorrow,” he concluded.
Artigas was also smiling. “I am happy with that, it was a great race and so hard all the way, so much overtaking. I tried to position myself for the win on the last lap but it didn’t quite work and I couldn’t get close enough to Yamanaka at the end. The bike was great though, no need to change anything for tomorrow, I think I can fight again for the win.”
Can Öncü seemed as much relieved as thrilled after a sleepless night, his big smile had returned though. “Yes I’m happy with that though I wasn’t happy with my start, the clutch didn’t work the way I expected and the bike pulled a wheelie. I lost a lot of places and then got caught in a battle with Kelly. Only when I got away from him could I chase after the front group.”
“When I caught them I relaxed a bit but then had to push again to get to the front. It was such great fun being in a battle with all the others, we are friends in the garage but it really is a battle out there and we love it. Thanks to everyone including Francesc Julià who worked so hard to get the KTM ready for me for qualifying.”
So close behind
Brother Deniz was less thrilled with fourth, even though he had a great race and ran at the front, the smile was missing. “I made a good start and got to the front quite quickly but at the end of the race I made a mistake on the brakes, got in too fast and ran wide on the exit. I lost so many places that I had a big fight just to get back to fourth. Tomorrow will be better,” asserted Deniz who needs to finish in front of his brother in Race 2 if he is to keep his championship hopes alive.
Filip Salač also had a great ride after charging through from 11th and finished fifth. “I’m not happy with the result but I am happy with the race. It was a great battle. It could have ended better and I managed to get in front of Deniz on the last lap but he just got me back again, it was all very close. I am determined and I think I can win tomorrow,” concluded the 16-year-old Czech.
This weekend’s Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.
Race 2 is on Sunday at 15:30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.