The Aragon grid for the final Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup races of the season was decided under threatening skies with Kaito Toba taking pole ahead of Cup leader Ayumu Sasaki and Raúl Fernández.
Sasaki has a handsome 31 point lead and was in great form on the KTM RC 250 R throughout Friday. "Yes, that's OK," admitted the 15-year-old Japanese. "We made some changes to the bike for FP2 and then I was happy with the bike and made no more changes for qualifying. I thought I could get pole but then the other Japanese guy was faster. But anywhere on the front row is OK for the championship."
Sasaki to win if he can
"For the race I will not be happy just to ride round, everyone will want to pass me and that can be risky. I need to be towards the front, with just a few guys I hope. Then at the end if I can win without taking any chances I will. But If it is too risky I will be happy just to be on the podium," concluded Sasaki who already has three races wins this year and has only been off the podium once.
While Fernández is 46 points adrift in third and could possible take the Cup with the 50 points he would get for a double victory as he managed in Assen, the closer threat is Aleix Viu. The 15-year-old Spaniard qualified seventh and was clearly disappointed. "I started qualifying with the idea that I would be on pole but I was followed by a big group and four of them got better times than me," explained Viu.
"Then I crashed and had to come into the pits to fix the bike. It's not where I wanted to be on the grid but the race will be different, I know I have a good rhythm, the bike setting is good and I can fight for the win. I think it will be quite a fight, I am geared for the slipstream so I don't think I can get away," concluded Viu who has to close the 31 point advantage that Sasaki holds.
Toba tries to get clear
Toba stands fifth in the title chase, too far off to challenge for the Cup but he can certainly affect the result. "I will try from the start to get a gap, if I am very efficient I might be able to get away. It will not be easy because the slipstream makes a lot of difference here and that helped me to pole. If I don't get away it will be a question of getting in the right position for the slipstream down the back straight on the last lap."
"The bike is great, we didn't change it all day and I am finally getting to understand the KTM better," concluded Toba who claimed his single win so far in Sachsenring Race 2. Rory Skinner is still looking for his first victory and last year's pole man qualified eighth fastest after lapping with Sasaki for much of the session. Sasaki later suggested that the 14-year-old Scot's bike balance was not helping his lap time.
Trying for second
Fernández says he is not thinking of winning the Cup. "No but I want that second place," he asserted with his usual big smile. "The bike wasn't perfect at the start of the day but we only needed to make small changes to the suspension. Now it is really good and I think we will have two really good races."
Race 1 is at 16.30 CET on Saturday with Race 2 on Sunday at 15.30. The races can be seen live on TV channels around the globe and on www.redbull.tv with the show starting 10 minutes before the race.