Jake Gagne turned his weekend around with a brilliant victory in the second Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the Cardion AB Grand Prix of the Czech Republic and extends his Cup lead to 11 points with just the single Misano race remaining. The 16 year old Californian stole the lead from arch Cup rival Danny Kent going into the final 'S' bends and left the 16 year old Briton to fend off fellow countryman Harry Stafford for the rostrum places.
Saturday's winner Kevin Calia headed a 16 man battle for the lead on lap 4 but had slipped back a few places when he crashed on lap 5. The 15 year old Italian remounted to finish 16th. Falling at the same corner on the same lap but in separate incidents were pole man Alejandro Pardo and 15 year old Italian Alessio Cappella who knocked off luckless 16 year old Japanese Daijiro Hiura.
Gagne had only qualified 16 after crashing early in qualifying and missing the second session but from the 4th row he made an incredible start. “I think I was about 5th going into the first corner and just raced from there. Yesterday the bike was tough to ride but we made some changes overnight and it was a whole lot better, the front wasn't bottoming everywhere.”
He escaped a nasty looking collision with Kent early on but for the most part the fighting at the front was very well played. It was still typical Rookies action with at least one overtaking move at every corner and that took its toll on the lap times which were mostly a second or so off Saturday's record pace. Lap record holder Daniel Ruiz was out of luck when the bike stopped with an electrical fault on lap 5.
“There was more wind than yesterday,” explained Gagne. “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.”
“I just didn't know he was there,” explained Kent. “That's one of my favourite 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.” Kent trails Gagne by 11 points but as he is another 30 clear of Binder and Hiura only Kent and Gagne can now win the Cup.
Stafford's 3rd completed a fine weekend for the 16 year old after 4th on Saturday. “That was a great race, I really tried to win it but just wasn't in the right place coming up the hill. Then into the last corners I thought about trying to take second but just couldn't get past and then even with a good run onto the straight there wasn't enough room before the line. Still there's Misano to come.”
Another with the 'still Misano to come', feeling is 15 year old South African Brad Binder who was 4th. “I enjoyed the race, the bike was perfect, I just couldn't get to the front at the right time.”
“Scottish 17 year old Taylor Mackenzie had a fine ride and made a play for the rostrum through the 'S' at the bottom of the final climb. “I tried, but then Harry spoilt my drive up the hill and Brad came past, Josh (Hook) got alongside but I managed to hold him off.” he concluded after crossing the line 5th.
Hook's 6th seemed scant reward for the 17 year old Australian who came off the second row of the grid and led superbly for the first 2 laps. “I had a great start, that was the main thing. I got in front and tried to get away but it was so windy, such a head wind that it wasn't possible. You needed the slipstream to do anything, that's why no one got away. In the end I just wasn't in the right place but it was a lot of fun.”
Niccolo Antonelli, the 14 year old Italian, had another fine ride. When the 7 man group separated he was left to make up a gap of well over a second on his own and he did so superbly, joining them for the closing stages. He got as high as 5th before finally crossing the line 7th which matches his performances in the first 3 races of this, his first Rookies season. Another first year Rookie, 14 year old German, Florian Alt was 8th after holding on to the lead group for the entire race.
Official Race 2 Classification
1. Jacob Gagne (USA) 31 minutes 39.860 seconds (143.332 kph)
2. Danny Kent (GBR) +0.045
3. Harry Stafford (GBR) +0.089
4. Brad Binder (RSA) +0.151
5. Taylor Mackenzie (GBR) +0.267
6. Joshua Hook (AUS) +0.530
7. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) +0.664
8. Florian Alt (GER) +0.739
9. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +10.996
10. Antonio Chiari (BRA) +11.015