It is time to crank it up a notch if the 24 chasing Red Bull MotoGP Rookies are going to keep points leader Carlos Tatay in their sights. The 16-year-old Spaniard was off over the Tuscan hills last time out and the chasing pack need to make sure he doesn’t disappear again this coming weekend in the Netherlands.
Assen is a very different circuit of course, flatter and narrower than Mugello but that alone is not going to make a difference. Tatay put a lot of thought into the way he tackled the race in Italy, spending time in practice not just getting the bike sorted for a quick lap in Qualifying but working on the way he would run the race, both with other riders around and alone.
He is bound to be just as thorough this coming weekend and the other Rookies have to match him. Yuki Kunii has the skills and intelligence to do just that and the 16-year-old Japanese was extremely unlucky to get caught up in the last lap crash and left Mugello with no points after matching Tatay completely in Jerez.
The others have yet to prove that they can get the better of Tatay and Kunii, though Barry Baltus came closest with his spirited rides in Spain and was also in the podium hunt in Italy. He will have a good number of fans making the short trip from Belgium to Assen, adding to the 15-year-old’s desire for a great result.
The biggest cheers of course will be for local hero 13-year-old Zonta van den Goorbergh but while Baltus feels that his generous size and weight is a disadvantage on the KTM RC 250 R, van den Goorbergh is one of the lightest of the young lions and the lighter riders often find the weighted Moto3 spec bikes quite a handful.
It is also only his fourth and fifth Rookies Cup races, having stepped up quite a jump from his previous experience. So he and other 13-year-old newcomers like American Tyler Scott and German Phillip Tonn still have a lot of learning to do.
That is what Rookies Cup is all about of course, learning. Naturally we like to talk about the ex Rookies who collectively have already won 95 Grand Prix and stood on 270 podiums on their way to 6 World Championships but every one learnt in the Rookies Cup, Johann Zarco, Brad Binder, Jorge Martín et al.
So let them all learn to be a little bolder on the polder and take the battle as close to Carlos Tatay as they can.