Aleix Viu won the opening racing of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season, holding off Ayumu Sasaki and Raúl Fernández in the dash to the line. The Spaniard rode with perfect judgement even under intense pressure from the fellow 15-year-olds behind.
"I knew that they were right there," explained Viu. "I knew they would try and pass into the last corner so I braked very very late and hung on. Fantastic, unbelievable to start the season like this, winning my home GP."
Third fastest in practice, he had been confident that he could run a hard pace on the KTM even on worn tyres and that is exactly what he did, taking the lead in the later stages and running a pace that the others struggled to match, particularly through the ultra fast right handers leading to the last corner.
"I struggled there early in practice but made some changes and then the bike felt really good. I felt comfortable in the race, didn't have to take chances and really enjoyed it. I am not planning to change anything on the bike, I want to do the same tomorrow."
Japan splits the Spanish
Sasaki was happy enough with second. "Viu was very quick. I could match his pace when I was behind him but any time someone passed me he would get away and I had to fight hard to catch him again," explained the Japanese.
"My bike's great," continued Sasaki. "But I just struggled a little through practice with the way it handled the heavy braking so we changed something slightly for the race. It still isn't right so I guess we are not going to fix it, probably leave it the same tomorrow."
Fernández to improve
"That race was a lot of fun," enthused the Spaniard. "I just didn't quite have the feeling I needed on the front through the fast corners. It made it hard to race with the guys, I just couldn't risk it and there was nothing I could do. Strange because we didn't have that trouble in practice."
"I will talk to the engineers because it would be great to fix it and race for the win tomorrow. Still, as I said, it was a lot of fun," concluded Fernández.
Unlucky for some
Two of the fancied runners did not complete the first lap. Pole man Kaito Toba was leading but slid off his KTM through the fast right hander leading back to the finish on lap one, the front end tucked and down he went, unhurt but unable to continue.
Sixth place qualifying Marc Garcia did not even make the start after a sighting lap incident with another rider left his KTM too damaged to use.
Plenty of KTM action
Even with Toba and Garcia gone it was still a typical 6 and even 8 rider lead battle on the KTMs. Ai Ogura was unlucky to be flicked off on the 11th of 16 laps. Rufino Florido was an excellent fourth ahead of Makar Yurchenko who rode a great race to take fifth ahead of Walid Soppe who actually crossed the line ahead of him but was penalised 5 seconds for repeatedly exceeding track limits.
Jerez Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30 CET and can be seen live on TV channels around the world and on redbull.tv with the show staring 10 minutes earlier.