Race 1 Report: Rookies Cup
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Florian Marino won a sensational 10 man battle to the line to claim his first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup victory. The 16 year old Frenchman fought off Briton Danny Kent and Italian Alejandro Pardo, both 15, with the first 10 all crossing the line within 2.3 seconds.
17 year old Norwegian Sturla Fagerhaug finished 5th and now has a 3 point advantage over arch rival Jakub Kornfeil, the 16 year old Czech who was 8th. With the final race tomorrow at the end of the Cardion AB Grand Prix of the Czech Republic at Brno, the Cup battle is still open to the top 4 in the points table as Hiura finished 6th and is now 19 points behind Fagerhaug and Kent has 22 to make up from his 4th position in the table.
Marino could even tie on points with Fagerhaug as there are 25 points for the race win but would loose the Cup on number of race wins. All he cares about now is his first win and was happy to talk about the way his plan worked so perfectly. “With about three laps to go I was sixth and I thought about where I could pass people and where they could pass me. So I was happy not to be leading and planned to pass everyone on the downhill half of the track. I did it; but breaking into that last right hander at the bottom I was so so late on the brakes, I thought, ‘I’m going to crash, ‘I’m going to crash.’ but I didn’t, I was in front, then on the gas and back up the hill to the finish.”
He gives full credit to Rider Coach Gustl Auinger for his first Rookies win after finishing 4th 3 times. “After Donington my head was not good and I said to Gustl, ‘what do I have to do to win?’ He told me that I have to think like a winner and concentrate on that and not the other riders behind. So I fixed on that this weekend.”
Kent also enjoyed his ride to second and just wished the finish-line was in a different place. “I was closing on him and if the line had been a bit further down the track I could have won it. Never mind, I’ll try again tomorrow. It was a great race though. Early on I had a look back and saw that we were about 10 guys. I thought then that if we had a big crash and the race got red flagged I needed to be in the front so any time someone passed me I just passed them straight back.”
Such a sensational race produced many great tales including the incredible ride to 3rd put in by Alejandro Pardo. He gave himself a lot of work to do. “I made a terrible start, the KTM is so different to my own bike and I just can’t seem to get used to it. After the first few laps I saw that the lead group was 2 or 3 seconds ahead but I soon realised that the gap wasn’t getting bigger and I just said to myself, ‘you can do it’. I just tried the maximum and caught them. I never thought that I would be able to get on the podium but when I caught the group I just passed everyone where I could and made it, incredible.”
His brilliant effort pushed Jake Gagne into 4th, a shame for the 15 year old Californian who had led the race for a good share of the distance even though he is new to the circuit. He looked like he might win it but in the end was unlucky. “I didn’t know it was the last lap. I looked at the lap counter and saw it was 6 laps to go, those 6 laps just went past quicker than I expected. On that last lap Marino came past then Danny surprised me as he went through and I got off line. That spoilt my drive up the hill a bit and that is how Pardo got by.”
Going onto that last lap it was Cup leader Fagerhaug who was in front of Marino, Gagne and Kent but it was never going to be a boring last lap as Fagerhaug explained. “Going into the first corner on the last lap Jake and Danny passed me and I tried to go back around Danny but couldn’t and lost their slipstream going away up the hill. The guys behind had my slipstream and another three of them went past. I knew that I was still ahead of Jakub on that last lap and though I wanted to win I was thinking a bit about the championship and didn’t want to make a mistake.”
Coming to the end of his third Cup season the Norwegian had put in a great performance even though he was not that quick off the line. “From the start I just concentrated on getting into a good rhythm and I was happy with the way that went. I was leading for a lot of the race but slipstreaming is so important here and the other guys just seemed to be able to come past on the straight and it wasn’t possible to break away.”
The impossibility of establishing any kind of lasting advantage was even more frustrating for his Cup rival Kornfeil. “The start was good but after that I wasn’t so happy with the race. We were in a big group and I just couldn’t break through to the front. In the first half of the race I had quite a lot of rear wheel slides so I couldn’t push but then it started to get better. Tomorrow I’ve just got to push harder, be stronger, it has got to come from me.”