Kevin Calia (15) rode a superb race on the sweeping Brno GP circuit on Saturday to take the first of two races in the Red Bull Rookies Cup to narrow championship gap with just two races left on the 2010 program.
The young Italian, who is racing in his third season with the Red Bull Rookies, all of whom compete on identical KZM 125 machines celebrated his first win in the competition with a race that attracted praise from the young riders’ official mentor, American racing legend Kevin Schwantz.
As Calia surged to the front after the first two laps, Schwantz said the young Italian wasn’t “putting a wheel wrong” and was riding with a lot of confidence.
Calia dominated the race, holding the lead right up to the checkered flag where he had a one and a half second advantage over second-placed Japanese rider Daijiro Hiura. Danny Kent of Britain was third. It was a particularly large winning margin in a competition that usually sees these riders going for the flag in a pack of upwards of five riders, all hungry for the podium places.
Kevin had already showed he was fast in practice on the Brno circuit that offers wide sweeping curves and plenty of room to move. He started his race from third in the gird and said even when he woke up this morning he felt he could win the race. “I kept thinking that they would catch me,” he said. “That is what normally happens in our races, I just kept pushing as hard as I could.”
While Calia was out in front, Hiura and Kent traded the minor places in the final stages of the race but it was the Japanese who slipped into second going into the final corner. “It just wasn’t possible to catch Kevin today, we tried but he was too fast. I enjoyed the race, we had another great battle,” Hiura said.
Kent’s third place took on more value as it allowed him to close down on championship leader American Jake Gagne as the cup competition goes into the final stages. Gagne had to settle for eighth place over the line and while he still leads the standings, Kent is now just six points behind. With another 25 up for grabs tomorrow in Brno and a further 25 in the final race of the competition, six riders are still in with a mathematical chance to take the title.
Race 1 Results
1 Kevin Calia, Italy, 31 minutes 24.166 seconds (144.526 kph)
2. Daijiro Hiura, Japan, +1.537
3. Danny Kent, Britain, +1.599
4. Harry Stafford, Britain, +1.626
5. Daniel Ruiz, Spain, +1.679
6. Alessio Cappella, Italy, +2.076
7. Brad Binder, South Africa, +2.523
8. Jacob Gagne, USA, +2.894
9. Florian Alt, Germany, +2.951
10. Xavier Figueras, Spain, +3.024
American Jake Gagne played the waiting game in a pack of eight hungry young Red Bull Rookies Riders on the Brno circuit on Sunday making his charge for the front in the second last corner of the 14-lap race to take victory and advance on his position as title leader as the competition goes down to the wire.
Now with still one race to go at Misano and only a slender 11-point gap in the points standings Gagne must battle it out in Italy with Danny Kent of Britain who was second in Brno to keep his title hopes alive.
Gagne had a mixed weekend. He qualified 16 after crashing early in qualifying and missed the second session. But he redeemed himself on race day with an excellent start.
Jake Gagne says: “I think I was about 5th going into the first corner and just raced from there. There was more wind than yesterday. That was moving us around a bit but it was more to do with all the guys passing and re-passing. I tried to break away but it wasn’t possible so I just had to try and position myself on the last lap, I got into second for the slipstream up the hill and passed Danny (Kent) into the last corner.”
The race on the broad, sweeping and very undulating Brno circuit in the Czech Republic offered plenty of opportunities to overtake, but in typical Rookies style it could have gone any way heading into the second last corner. As they approached the final corners there was less than half a second between the pack of eight riders all going for the podium.
Gagne prevailed but he will take no peace from the fact that his arch rival Kent of Britain was a close second while fellow Briton Harry Stafford picked up the minor podium place. Kent admitted he had been outfoxed by the Californian in the last stages of the race:
Danny Kent says: “That’s one of my favorite moves and he played it on me, there was nothing I could do. It was a great race, very fair and we all enjoyed it. I wish I hadn’t given Jake the points going into the last race in Misano but I’m just going to have to do better there.”
While Italian Kevin Calia, the winner of Saturday’s race was right up with the leaders at the half way mark, his chances were gone when he slid off the bike and into the gravel in a series of incidents that also took out Daijiro Hiura of Japan and the two Italians Alejandro Pardu and Alessio Capella.
Misano, the final stop on the racing calendar for 2010 is new to the Red Bull Rookies so this will add yet another dimension to what is surely going to be a very exciting finish. All Red Bull Rookies race on identical KTM RC125 bikes.
Race 2 Results:
1 Jacob Gagne, USA, 31 minutes 39.860 seconds (143.332 kph)
2. Danny Kent, Britain, +0.045
3. Harry Stafford, Britain, +0.089
4. Brad Binder, South Africa, +0.151
5. Taylor Mackenzie, Britain, +0.267
6. Joshua Hook, Australia, +0.530
7. Niccolo Antonelli, Italy, +0.664
8. Florian Alt, Germany, +0.739
9. Xavier Pinsach, Spain, +10.996
10. Antonio Chiari, Brazil, +11.015
Standings after penultimate race:
1 Jake Gagne, USA 150
2. Danny Kent, Britain, 139
3. Daijiro Hiura, Japan, 109
4. Brad Binder, South Africa, 109
5. Daniel Ruiz, Spain, 104.