Advance Australia Fair has not been heard on the Rookies Cup rostrum for a long time but Billy van Eerde continued his remarkable season turnaround with a superb last corner move that bettered Haruki Noguchi, Alex Escrig and Pedro Acosta in Motorland Aragón.
The 17-year-old only qualified 11th and admitted that he had no thoughts of winning going into the race. “I was looking to be racing in the front group,” he explained frankly. “Then mid race I was feeling good on the bike and realised that I could push a bit harder. I kept going and the bike was working a lot better than it did in practice.”
“On the last lap I concentrated on putting myself in the right place down the back straight to pick up the slipstream and it worked. The guys did a great job with the bike and we are talking about some small changes for race 2 because it is still moving around a bit in the long corners so it could be even better,” explained van Eerde.
The 18-year-old Japanese ran him very close but just lost out with a last corner slide. “Yes, it was a great race but the back had been moving around a bit and it slid again at the last corner. Still I enjoyed the race, it was a lot of fun. I’m not upset with myself, I planned to be in that position on the last lap and it all worked but for that slide. We will try again tomorrow,” stated Noguchi.
Escrig was thrilled to be on the podium but thought it might be even better. “Down the back straight I had Pedro’s slipstream and as I went past into the lead I thought I was going to win it,” smiled the 15-year-old. “Then Haruki and Noguchi came past like rockets! Still it was a good race. It went well from the start, I took things easy early on then after 5 laps started to attack. The bike was great and we will not make any changes for tomorrow.”
Acosta was Mr. Cool and took an apparently casual approach from 9th on the grid, even more relaxed than his Misano progression which resulted in the brilliant win. “Yes I was cautious early, I didn’t want to risk a crash in the opening laps,” explained the 15-year-old. “Then I worked my way forward until I was third and stayed around there until the end of the race. Then on the last lap I thought, ‘This is your moment’ and I took the lead.”
“I thought I could do it from there but the slipstream and the last corner did not work out. Still I think I did a good race, the bike was good, nothing to change so we will try again tomorrow,” stated Acosta.
An impressive fifth was Mario Aji and the 15-year-old Indonesian expects more from Sunday. “I concentrated on staying in the top group, that is what I did not manage in Misano. I am getting more experience and I enjoyed the race. We will change the gearing for tomorrow because it was too short and I could not take advantage of the slipstream. That’s going to make quite a difference.”
Another go on Sunday
Cup winner Carlos Tatay has already taken up his Moto3 ride but there were others missing from the result after an unusual number of fallers. David Salvador and Barry Baltus touched and both fell in the heat of the lead battle. Early leader Marcos Uriarte slid off on his own. The final 2019 outing for the KTM RC 250 Rs on Sunday gives them one more chance.
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 16:00, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.
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