Dutch 16-year-old Bo Bendsneyder reeled off fourteen perfect laps to win the first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the Silverstone weekend, his seventh win of the season. Five competitors were determined to chase him all the way but though arch rival Fabio Di Giannantonio was second ahead of Ayumu Sasaki, the 16-year-old Italian and the 14-year-old Japanese were well astern at the finish.
Bendsneyder seized the lead early from pole but the others had his slipstream and hounded him hard. Firstly it was the two Spaniards who he had shared the front row with, 15-year-old Marc Garcia and 14-year-old Raúl Fernández who were on his tail ahead of the Japanese, 15-year-old Kaito Toba and Sasaki.
It was Di Giannantonio who had to work hardest as he came from ninth on the grid but he became part of the breakaway group at the front.
Bendsneyder was relentless. He kept opening a few bike length on the others but they would peg him back. He did it time and time again. Finally when Di Giannantonio was second he missed a gear. That broke the tow and out of slipstream range Bendsneyder continued to reel off the perfect laps that the others could no longer match.
"It was frustrating at first," admitted the Cup leader. "I just pushing and pushing and then I really gave it everything for two laps and finally got away. That was a great feeling, to finally see an advantage on the pit board. By the end the rear was sliding around quite a lot but otherwise the bike was great. I just have to try and do the same tomorrow. Rain is forecast, we'll see."
Last lap drama
The battle behind Bendsneyder went on unabated and unfortunately it boiled over a couple of corners before the finish when the five all tried for the same piece of road. Toba and Garcia came off worse, cartwheeling into the gravel trap without injury.
Fernández had been forced wide leaving Di Giannantonio to snatch second from Sasaki on the line. "It was a great race," enthused the Italian. "We changed the bike completely after qualifying and the bike was much better for the race. I had to work very hard to get to the front and I was determined to race Bo but I made one mistake, missed a gear and he was away. For Race 2 I have to try and go with him from the start."
Sasaki was pleased enough to be on the podium. "It was a hard race, I worked very hard and was waiting for the last lap. It then got very hard but I almost had second. I can do better tomorrow.
Compatriot Toba shrugged his shoulders, just a cut on his elbow to show for a nasty looking fall. "That's racing," he said. Garcia similarly accepted that it wasn't anyone's fault and is looking forward to a very different result in Race 2.
Sunday's Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world with Race 2 starting at 16.00 BST (17.00 CEST), the broadcasts begin 10 minutes before.