"Ten or twelve riders battling for the lead tomorrow," predicts fifth place qualifier Raúl Fernández while second fastest Marc Garcia says; "Anyone can win it." On pole though for the first ever Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race at the Red Bull Ring is Aleix Viu and he has a different idea; "I think I can go away, I've got a good rhythm going."
Viu, the 15-year-old Spaniard, headed both free practice sessions as well as qualifying and is confident of the settings on his KTM RC 250 R. "The bike was perfect from the first lap of practice, I have a great feeling and I just love the track, it is absolutely beautiful."
Interestingly Viu's pole time was a fraction off what he achieved in FP2. "Yes I had a good run to catch someone in FP2 and that is always a good incentive. In qualifying I set the times on my own so I know that I can do it both ways."
No easy ride
Garcia does not think he will get away with it that easy. "For a really quick lap here you need a slipstream and I think there will be a very big lead group in the race," explained the 16-year-old Spaniard. "I am really happy because I normally qualify on the second or third row so to be second quickest is very different for me."
"We changed the strategy, normally I practice alone but we knew you had to have a slipstream here so I went with the other guys and it worked out well. The bike is good so I am looking forward to a great race. It is so tight with a lot of riders in the same second."
Typically the Cup leader, Ayumu Sasaki, was not thrilled to be 'only' third fastest. "So so," was the usual comment from the 15-year-old Japanese. "You do need a good slipstream here and I was looking for the right chance but just couldn't find it. In the end I saw that there was just a minute to go so I had to find my own space and do it by myself."
"The bike is good though and I like the track, it's new, it's different and I think it will give us a good race," he concluded.
Man of the moment is Filip Salač, the first year Rookie who took fourth place. "That's so great," enthused the 14-year-old Czech who headed the timing table towards the end of FP1. "In the first free practice I was already enjoying the new track, mainly right handers but a lot of fun."
"Then we changed the bike a bit for the second session and I wasn't so happy with it. The guys sorted it out for qualifying though and in the second half of the session I really got going. For the race... I have no idea, I have never qualified so high up before!" he concluded with his sparkling smile.
"That wasn't really perfect," admitted Raúl Fernández who lies second in the points table, 17 behind Sasaki and 15 ahead of Viu. "We spent a lot of time trying to get the bike right," explained the 15-year-old Spaniard. "I still have to work on improving it but it will be like the Sachsenring with a lot of riders up front, in fact there will be even more than at the Sachsenring."
"It is a beautiful track and a lot of fun, it will be a great race and you just have to work out how to be in front at the end!" exclaimed the Dutch TT double winner with his great smile.
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.