Spaniards were in control all the way through Free Practice and Qualifying with 15-year-old Alex Escrig finally grabbing pole ahead of 14-year-old Marcos Uriarte after the pair worked together at the end of Qualifying. Fellow countryman and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup leader, 16-year-old Carlos Tatay was all on his own for third.
The Escrig/Uriarte plan also included another Spielberg first timer, 15-year-old Pedro Acosta but the 15-year-old Spaniard missed out and was only ninth fastest. Also missing out was Japanese 18-year-old Haruki Noguchi who topped the timing screen only to have that best lap cancelled because he exceeded track limits.
Naturally Escrig and Uriarte were grinning. “Yes that was our plan,” explained Escrig. “We would work together and help each other with the slipstream. It is so important here. In FP1 I was not so happy with the bike but I talked to Santi (Suspension engineer Santiago Morralla) and we sorted things out in FP2. I was feeling really confident then so I knew a good qualifying was possible.”
“I crashed in FP2,” explained Uriarte. “But I also thought we could do a good job working together in Qualifying. Early on the group was much too big and we were getting in each other’s way but right at the end Alex and I got it right. I’m really happy with the bike, the setting is good for the races, I think it should be good, I need my first podium at least.”
Tatay on his own
Tatay has already won five races and scored two second places this year. With rival Yuki Kunii missing the Austrian round after injuring his right hand again in his wild card GP debut in Brno last weekend the 16-year-old Spaniard could well clinch the Cup this weekend. He could even do it on Saturday if Acosta, David Salvador and Jason Dupasquier do not score a few points. Most likely the Cup will still be in play on Sunday.
Tatay is not worried about being third. “That is OK, it’s the front row, the bike is working very well. I took time to find myself some space for my own rhythm and I am happy with that. I think it will be a close race, probably with a lot of riders but I am ready to fight.”
On the limit to win
Noguchi has his own plans for the race. “It’s a shame I missed out on pole but the track limit is my fault. Today was not so easy, it is my first time here and we had an electrical fault so I had to use the spare bike in FP1. That cost a bit of time and we needed to sort out the setting but finally qualifying was good. We might change things slightly for the race, we’ll see. I will be out to win.”
Acosta needs to keep his championship hopes alive and the Sachsenring race 1 winner had no excuses. “I don’t know what went wrong in Qualifying, I just wasn’t there with the others at the end like we planned. The race will be different,” he smiled.
Yet another Spaniard, 15-year-old David Salvador, starts fifth. “I’m OK with that, the bike was not right in FP1 but got better through FP2 and in Qualifying it was really good so I think that I can have a good race,” said the teen who was second in Assen 2.
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 17:15 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15:30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.