MotoGP Rookies Cup
Californian Jake Gagne made his presence felt both on Friday and Saturday on Germany’s Sachsenring when he took pole position and then won Saturday’s Red Bull Rookies Cup race.
Gagne’s victory on his KTM 125 closed up the gap in the championship standings and puts him in the box seat for the double in Sunday’s second race.
The 16-year-old stayed cool and calculating in the front pack of riders in what is always a tightly fought race among these hungry young riders then just as the 19-lap race was drawing to a close, he surged into the lead, closely shadowed by 14-year-old South African Brad Binder.
Gagne was first over the line with Binder second and 16-year-old Briton Danny Kent picking up the minor places.
Jake Gagne says: “I was just in the group for most of the race and watching what the other guys were doing. With about 3 laps to go I got to the front and tried to get away. I knew that Brad (Binder) had gone with me but over the last few corners I knew I was pretty strong and I braked pretty deep so I didn’t think he’d be able to get by.”
Binder did well to be up with Gagne at the finish as he had to fight his way back from thirteenth in the early part of the race.
Brad Binder says: “I had to ride hard to catch up. When I did that I really wanted to get on the podium and I got up the front when Jake took the lead. I went with him and I was looking for a way past to win but he was braking at the very last millisecond and there was no way past…. this time.”
Danny Kent’s third place vaulted him into the championship lead ahead of Daniel Ruiz of Spain, who now trails by six points. Gagne is just one point behind in third place, indicating that the title is still wide open. Kent was back at tenth on the grid but made a great start and fought his way into contention.
Danny Kent says: “I knew I could do better than qualifying because I had oil on the rear tyre towards the end of the session. We also made a few adjustments to the bike so it was working better. It all came down to the last lap and I’d got passed by Calia and Kristiansson with 2 corners to go but I managed to get them both at the last corner,”
It was not a happy day for Ruiz who admitted after the race that he had “made a mess of the start”. The 18-year-old Spaniard, who has been consistently in the points this season, gets another chance to retake the championship lead in tomorrow’s race.
Alex Kristiansson, the 16 year old Swede lost a podium place by just 7 thousandths of a second but still managed to smile and had the consolation of a new lap record.
Alex Kristiansson says: “It was a great race, a little crazy at times but a lot of fun. I thought I’d managed to get on the podium but Danny just came past at the line.”
Similarly 15 year old Italian Kevin Calia enjoyed running at the front and his 5th place finish. “It was good to lead but not easy. I tried to break away but it was impossible and as soon as the other guys overtake it slows you down again.”
Another with moments of glory at the head of the pack was Alessio Cappella who managed to pass 2 or 3 men several times on the brakes at the and of the 6th gear downhill straight. Unfortunately he caught himself out there on lap 10 and crashed.
Alessio Cappella says: “I used a different part of the track and there were more bumps so I lost the front,” explained the Italian 15 year old.
Others out of luck included Harry Stafford who crashed out of the lead group on lap seven, the 16 year old Briton falling at the same fast left hander that caught him out in practice. Daijiro Hiura, the 15 year old Japanese who had led the Cup points battle until his technical DNF in the second race at Assen only scored a single point after rejoining the race following a high speed off track excursion. ‘
Daijiro Hiura says: “I was trying to go round the outside of Arthur (Sissis) he used all the track and we touched.”
All were unhurt as was Alejandro Pardo who was knocked off at the first corner going on to lap 9 when Kristiansson came up the inside to find the door closed by Calia and clipped Italian 16 year old Pardo as he stood the bike up.
Ride of the day could arguably go to Josh Hook who took a superb 6th having fought through from a 15th place start on the 4th row of the grid.
Alejandro Pardo says: “I just don’t seem to be able to qualify, once the race starts I am OK,” explained the 17 year old Australian. “With 10 laps to go I thought the gap to the lead group was too big but I managed to catch them. I thought I might be able to get on the podium but on the last lap it all got a bit too much of a mess. I’m happy though, at last I’ve got a half decent result.”
He finished just ahead of 18 year old Spaniard Daniel Ruiz who had the Cup lead going into the race.
Daniel Ruiz says: “I made a mess of the start and even when I got into the group I just could not ride the way I wanted. I get so frustrated with such races. I know I can go quicker but with the other guys passing everywhere it is just impossible.”
Kent has seized the Cup lead with a 6 point advantage over Ruiz with Gagne a single point behind him. Hiura is now 4th, 26 points adrift of the lead after a disastrous 2 races. There remain 4 races in the season with 100 points on offer, the first 25 of those up for grabs tomorrow at 15.35 CET, live on TV in many countries.
All competitors in the Red Bull Rookies Cup ride identical KTM 125s.
Race 1 Classification
1 Jacob Gagne (USA) 29 minutes 10.099 seconds (143.475 kph)
2. Brad Binder (RSA) +0.066
3. Danny Kent (GBR) +0.929
4. Alexander Kristiansson (SWE) +0.936
5. Kevin Calia (ITA) +0.995
6. Joshua Hook (AUS) +1.403
7. Daniel Ruiz (ESP) +1.465
8. Tomas Vavrous (CZE) +1.652
9. Taylor Mackenzie (GBR) +10.021
10. Florian Alt (GER) +18.813
1 Kent 99 points
2. Ruiz, 93
3. Gagne 92