Pole man Bo Bendsneyder made a fabulous start to the ninth Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season with a hard fought victory in Jerez. The 16-year-old Dutchman held off 6 other KTM RC 250 Rs in a fight to the line with 15-year-old Spaniard Oscar Gutierrez taking second ahead of Australian 17-year-old Olly Simpson.
Bendsneyder carried his wonderful qualifying form into the race and set a fast pace from the early laps but could never break away from Simpson and Gutierrez who left the front row with him. The trio couldn't break away either and were joined by 16-year-old Italian Fabio Di Giannantonio.
4 to 5 to 7
As if that was not exciting enough Asia Talent Cup Champion Kaito Toba, the 15-year-old Japanese, caught them after making up for a couple of early mistakes. Then as the five fought it out fellow Japanese Ayumu Sasaki, the 14-year-old and 15-year-old Spaniard Rufino Florido closed in to make it a seven-way contest.
Onto the last lap anyone of them could have won but no one could out scrap Bendsneyder when it counted. "It was a great race, I tried to get away at the front but it just wasn't possible, too easy for the others to hang in my slipstream," explained the lanky Netherlander with his brilliant smile. "Even on the run in to the line I thought that Oscar might creep past."
Bendsneyder keen to do it all again
"It was a lot of fun and the bike was great, no need to change anything for tomorrow. I'm ready for another one," explained the super fit athlete." Second placed Gutierrez is also ready for Sunday. "I've got another chance to win here at home and I am sure it will be another good race. The bike was good, I have no excuses, I just made a small mistake in the last lap," explained the Spaniard who had to catch a slide as he powered onto the back straight."
Simpson has the same thought. "I'm going for the top step tomorrow," he smiled. "It was a great way to start the year a lot of fun battling with Bo and the other guys. The bike was good, it was a tough race and just didn't work out my way over the last lap. I learnt a lot and I'm going to make use of it in Race 2."
Toba to triumph
Toba also has his sights set on improvement even though he was fastest of the newcomers and finished fourth, only giving that place to Simpson at the last corner. "My start was OK but I made a mistake on the first lap and almost highsided at the end of the back straight. I had a lot of work to do then and was catching when I almost lost the front."
"Finally I got with the lead group and was looking to get on the podium but got myself on the wrong line at the last corner," he explained. "So I am happy but..... happy that there is another race tomorrow."