Estoril : Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup
Three riders crossed the line together with 13 year old Japanese Daijiro Hiura getting the verdict over JD Beach and Sturla Fagerhaug.
It was the two more experienced 16 year olds, American Beach and Norwegian Fagerhaug, who
had done most of the battling for the lead but on the last lap Hiura dived past on the brakes at the chicane and held on to win in only his 4th Rookies Cup race.
“I am so so happy”, said the Japanese with his classic, broad smile. “The bike was great and I was able to win but I know I made some mistakes. I took the lead a few times but I was not perfect and I was passed again. Even half way round the last lap I made a mistake but I pushed and pushed and went up the inside on the brakes. I just made it.”
Cup leader Luis Salom did a fantastic job of cutting through the field on the opening lap from 19th place on the 5th row of the grid to be sixth going onto lap two. On the next lap he passed 15 year old German Daniel Kartheininger and when 16 year old South African Mathew Scholtz slid out of 5th place at the chicane on lap 4 the 16 year old Spaniard was promoted to 4th.
Beach and Fagerhaug did look the more controlled as they swapped places for the lead but even though they tried to work together and build an advantage it they could not shake off Hiura.
“It all happened on the last lap”, said Beach. “We came down to the right hander before the chicane with Sturla leading and I'd passed him there the lap before. I tried it again but I didn't do it clean enough this time so I didn't get the drive.”
“Yeah, I just got pushed off line a bit”, agreed Fagerhaug with grin. “Then Daijiro passed JD on the brakes into the chicane. I got in there a bit fast and wide so I didn't get the drive I wanted coming out and we just couldn't get him before the line. At least this race was a lot better than Jerez as I got a good start and got on the podium.”
“Three second places”, said Beach. “That's OK but but I'm going wide open at Le Mans”, he concluded more than matching Fagerhaug's grin. The American remains 2nd in the Cup standings but closed the gap from Salom to just 3 points after 3 of the 10 races.
Salom was not happy with his weekend.
“I did so few laps in practice because the bike broke. I knew I would have to go for it from the start. It was pretty crazy in the first lap and I did manage to catch up the places. I did what I could then but the engine seemed to lose power and though I could catch up on the brakes and do OK in the first couple of sections it wasn't enough.
It wasn't any good in the last section and the guys just pulled away from me, I couldn't even hold their slipstream.”
Mathew Scholtz was looking so good in the leading group until his fall. “I just touched the white line on the inside going into the chicane and the front washed out. I got back on but had to ride the rest of the race with the handlebars bent completely”, said the 11th place finisher who was also unlucky at the first race in Spain when Australian Dylan Mavin fell in front of him. Mavin practised in Estoril but could not ride because of the very painful left elbow, fractured in the Jerez crash.
Portuguese Wild Card rider 13 year old Miguel Oliveira did well to finish 8th in his first Rookie outing but was frustrated. “I had such a terrible start. I was last at the first corner. I tried very hard and managed to catch up a bit but then I was alone for the second half of the race and couldn't make up any more places.”
French regulations do not allow riders under 14 to compete so 13 year olds Daijiro Hiura, Kevin Calia and Niklas Ajo cannot compete in the the next race at Le Mans. Alessio Cappella and Nico Thoni start their Cup seasons in Mugello and Assen respectively when they turn 13. Hiura, Calia and Ajo will be granted Cup points for Le Mans calculated as an average of the points they score in the race before and the race after the French round.