Soushi Mihara won the opening Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of 2014 after a fabulous five man battle for the lead and a slipstream run from third out of the last corner. That left Jorge Martín second ahead of Manuel Pagliani.
The 14-year-old Japanese had fought his way through from twelfth place on the grid to catch the Mediterranean group fighting for first. Italian 17-year-old Pagliani did much of the leading, trading places with Martín, the 16-year-old Spaniard who won the race last year. Spanish 16-year-old Joan Mir and 15-year-old Italian Stefano Manzi looked every bit as much potential winners as they all passed and re-passed in the lead group, pulling well away from the rest.
Mihara catching up
Coming into the race Mihara had not looked a potential victor. "I didn't have such a good qualifying on Friday and was back on the fourth row," explained the Kiryu-City resident. "I got a good start though and soon settled in to feel OK. I found I could catch and pass Brad Ray and that encouraged me. Then I caught and past Darryn Binder and I realised that the bike was working well and I really started to have confidence."
Mihara finished 12th in last year's Cup, his best result being 5th in Brno so challenging for the front was something new. "I could push harder and harder as the race went on. I was asking more of the bike and it answered, today it was my friend and lap by lap I could close in on the leading group."
"I knew it would all come down to the last lap and the last corner. I was chasing Martín and Pagliani and I knew they would be battling hard between them. So I hung back just a little bit and as they battled coming out I could pick up the slipstream and get past," he explained.
"The bike was working perfectly today so we will touch nothing and I expect to have another exciting race tomorrow," concluded a sweat soaked Mihara who starts his second Cup season as points leader.
He should not have been there - Martín
Martín was philosophical about second. "I did a lot of leading, I thought I could win. I did everything to win. I thought I had it and then on the run into the line Soushi was there, he shouldn't have been there but he was."
"Still second is OK but tomorrow I can't let that happen again. The bike was great, at the beginning it was sliding around a bit," he explained after a first lap slide had threatened to throw him off the bike completely. "It was so hot but it seemed to work better as the race went on," reflected Martín who set his personal best time on the penultimate lap.
Pagliani and Mir - better on Sunday
Pagliani was not thrilled with third. "It is OK but it should have been better, I pushed and pushed, it was just the last corner which didn't go right. Tomorrow will be different." Mir crossed the line fourth and also must look forward. "The race was OK, I was happy with the way it went until the last lap and the last corner. You know how it goes in Rookies Cup, it was so intense and as I tried to get the good line and a perfect drive out I was pushed wide and the chance of getting on the podium was over."
"Still the bike was good, we will talk about maybe trying the rear suspension a little softer because it was sliding a lot and I didn't get traction but really I was happy to race with the guys and we can do the same thing tomorrow," concluded Mir.
Rookie mistake - Gutierrez
It all might have been different had 14-year-old Spaniard Oscar Gutierrez not made a mistake in his first ever Rookies Cup race as he led the pack onto lap three by well over a second. "It was just me, the back slid, I was pushing too hard. I was happy in front, I wasn't nervous, I was enjoying it. I just wanted to get away from the others and pushed too hard. It was quit a vicious fall but I'm OK, no problem to race tomorrow."
Another with speed was Darryn Binder who crossed the line sixth but had the consolation of a new lap record. "It was going OK at the start and I caught the lead group but couldn't stay with them, made a couple of small mistakes and when I lost touch that was it really, there was no way to get back with them. We are not going to change anything on the bike, I know I've just got to get with them and stay there tomorrow for Race 2," concluded the 16-year-old South African.
Tomorrow's Rookies Cup race can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world at 15.30 CET, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.