2011 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup
The Tuscan hills above Florence are the dramatic backdrop to the ninth race in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The Italian Grand Prix at Mugello this weekend sees another chapter in the thrilling battle between 16-year-old Australian Arthur Sissis and 14-year-old Italian Lorenzo Baldassarri.
Sissis leads the MotoGP Rookies Cup table by just five points after the pair shared the honours in Assen with a win and a second each. There is little doubt that the single race at Mugello will be different as the weather forecast is far better than the wet and miserable weekends at Silverstone and Assen that impacted the last four races.
On a dry track it is likely that others will join in the battle for the lead, most notably Brad Binder, the 15-year-old South African who was on pole at the first two rounds in Jerez and Estoril, scored a win in Portugal but struggled on the wet tracks of more recent weekends.
Binder has fought for the lead at Mugello before and is determined to get back into the fight at the front. He is likely to be joined by Philipp Oettl and Florian Alt, the 15 year old Germans both getting back to form after their earlier injuries, Alt in spectacular style at Assen by leading the 2nd race briefly before finishing 3rd.
Others like Xavier Pinsach, the 15 year old Spaniard and Tomáš Vavrouš, the Czech who has just turned 18, have featured in races this year but neither has quite achieved what they have threatened. They and many of the other front runners have a significant advantage over Baldassarri as they know the track well from previous years. Though it is a home race for Baldassarri and the other Italians, age restrictions mean that there is very little opportunity for them to practice or race at Mugello. Baldassarri has done a single test day on a Metrakit PreGP.
So when practice starts on Friday Baldassarri will have to learn. It doesn’t seem to take him long as he showed at Assen when he missed most of the first 20 minute session with a technical problem but was still one of the quickest in the very brief 20 minute qualifying. The weather is unlikely to disrupt practice in Mugello so the Rookies should have their usual 25 minutes free training on Friday morning with the two 30 minute qualifying sessions late in the afternoon.
The single race is on Saturday at 16.30 CET. Watch the races on TV around the world or on www.redbull.tv with the show beginning 10 minutes before race start.