Can Öncü, Kazuki Masaki and Aleix Viu, the Cup challenge trio, make up the front row in Aragon for the final weekend of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup for 2017. Öncü, the 14-year-old Turk, headed the timing sheets most of Friday and lies second in the title chase behind Masaki, the 17-year-old Japanese.
Viu is right there though, sharing the front row and third in the Cup points, 27 behind Masaki who leads Öncü by 15 with 25 to be won in each of the weekend's two races. Heading the second row of the all KTM RC 250 R grid is Deniz Öncü, twin brother of Can, and that might well play a part in Cup destiny.
Too many Rookies
The podium battles in the two races will feature more than the three title contenders and so Viu has chosen short gearing even though it might have cost him the win in Misano. "I feel better with shorter gearing," he explained as he helped Can Öncü pull off the sleeve of his leathers.
"I was running good lap times at the end on my own, with just a reference ahead to chase but no slipstream. I want to try and break away in the race, I don't want a ten way battle to the finish. The bike set up is great, I feel good and I want the Cup," concluded Viu who was second last season.
Too much spring
Masaki is happy but uncertain. "I feel good because the pace is there but I am not sure about the bike, that is only 50% perfect. I changed to a harder front spring for qualifying but it is too hard, I can't turn in. So now we have to think about perhaps changing back for the race tomorrow."
"I like the track though and I feel good so I think that we can have a great race, I hope we can make the right setting for the front suspension," commented the Red Bull Ring winner who has already been on the podium 8 times in 11 races.
Too many Öncüs
"I'm happy to be on pole and I'm happy that my brother is right behind me," declared Can Öncü. "We can finish first and second."
Of course the two working together would make a big difference so does Can expect Deniz to finish second? "I don't know, you never know with Deniz, sometimes he can be crazy fast and I will not catch him, we'll see what he is like tomorrow."
Deniz had a pretty crazy qualifying, a high side that split the screen and caused a rather personal injury that necessitated a pause in pits for new perspex and recovery. He was happy with his qualifying position and the bike setting.
So the question to Deniz has to be, "Will he help Can win the Cup or go for victory himself?" Just a huge grin is the reaction and that's the response that Deniz gives to most of life's questions.
This weekend's Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world. Race 1 is at 16.30 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.
Practice Classification download
Starting Grid download