Fabio Di Giannantonio won a remarkable cat and mouse game with Bo Bendsneyder to take race 7 of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup in Brno. In a sweltering Czech summer, the 16-year-old Italian stole the advantage through the final 'S' and headed the 16-year-old Dutchman across the line.
Their last two laps were so tactical that they lost almost four seconds to the pursuing pack. Spanish 14-year-old Raúl Fernández picked up his first podium, stealing third brilliantly from fellow countrymen, 15-year-old Marc Garcia and 16-year-old Oscar Gutierrez also at the last corner.
Something in hand?
Having won five of the six races so far this year Bendsneyder still went into the race as favourite even though Sachsenring winner and arch rival Di Giannantonio had pole. The Italian shot off the line while Bendsneyder gave himself a bit of work to do as Garcia cut through from the third row to take the lead.
Bendsneyder made up ground and after a couple of nasty slides, Garcia was forced to give up his challenge for the lead leaving Di Giannantonio to tow Bendsneyder away from the pack. As usual the Dutchman looked so smooth that the suspicion was he might have something in reserve.
Forcing that hand
After leading from lap 2 to 12 Di Giannantonio pulled over and tried to force Bendsneyder to show his true pace over the last two laps. Bendsneyder wasn't keen and there began the perverse dance that almost let Gutierrez drag the chasing pack into a battle for the win.
"I was confident," explained Di Giannantonio. "The bike was working well and I knew that I could do something at the last corner, I just didn't want to lead all the way and let Bo do something that I couldn't prevent right at the end. So we started a bit of a game and it did all come down to that last corner, I went for it full gas and I won, it was always going to be about the last corner."
Nothing in hand
Bendsneyder admitted that he did all he could. "Oscar was riding very well, he likes this track and he was doing a good job. I didn't have anything extra and on the last lap he just played it well, I was also thinking a little about the last corner at the Sachsenring and I didn't want a repeat," he admitted referring to the last corner fall when he was fighting for the German win with Di Giannantonio.
It certainly wasn't just a two rider race and had not Garcia's second and most dramatic slide not scattered the pack a little the race may have been very different but in the end it was Fernández who won the Iberian fight for third. "What a great race, I am so happy to make it to the podium for the first time," gasped the first year Rookie. "I dedicate this result to my dad." That's nice but his father now has to dye his hair has part of their pre-race deal.
Race 2 on Sunday is also live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world beginning at 15.30 CET, the broadcast opens 10 minutes before race start.