The fifth win in a row for Bo Bendsneyder but the 16-year-old Dutchman had to fight all the way for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Race 1 at the Sachsenring. 14-year-old Ayumu Sasaki from Japan almost snatched victory at the last corner but took second ahead of 15-year-old Spaniard Marc Garcia.
19 dramatic laps where any of six riders could have taken the 25 points yet in the end it was the Dutch national anthem again. "It is beautiful to hear it," smiled Bendsneyder. "Not an easy race at all, I couldn't break away and the others were pushing very hard. They could catch me on the straights so easily. Sasaki was so late on the brakes at the last corner for the final time but I was determined not to let him ahead."
Twice other riders lost out hoping to use the same piece of track as Bendsneyder's identical KTM RC 250 R. Pole man Oscar Gutierrez, the 15-year-old Spaniard was in the hunt for the win all the way from a great start but as the lead pack were braking for the first corner on lap 17 he was out of luck.
"I was enjoying the race so much, the bike was good and I knew that I could fight for the win but then on the brakes I was on the outside and there wasn't enough room for Bo and I. I ended up over the kerb and onto the pit lane exit, still braking," explained Gutierrez.
He went way wide and from the front to a distant sixth. "I had to get past Viu to fifth but then the others were too far ahead and there was nothing I could do. Still there is the race tomorrow and I can race for the win again," concluded the irrepressible teen.
Too close two
That left a four riders battling for the podium including Fabio Di Giannantonio, the 16-year-old Italian who had been trading the lead all the way with Gutierrez, Bendsneyder and Sasaki just ahead of Garcia.
Going onto the last lap Di Giannantonio and Bendsneyder contested the lead going into turn one but on the way out the Italian clipped the Dutchman's rear wheel and almost fell, he held on but was then out of touch in fourth.
"It was such a shame, the bike was working great and I had a plan for the last lap," explained Di Giannantonio. "Bo was running different gearing and I could see he was hitting the rev limiter and I could get past. A good plan but it died in a moment.... still there's Race 2."
Sasaki showed great form in only his fifth Rookies Cup race and enjoyed it. "A great fight with all the guys. I was going for the win and thought I could do it at the last corner but Bo was just too late on the brakes. I will try again tomorrow, we will change nothing on the bike, it was very good and I have to thank my mechanics for all the hard work."
Also on the podium for the first time this year, Garcia had certainly had to work for it, having lost touch with the lead group when Rufino Florido fell in front of him on lap 5. "I had to go wide to miss him and the other got way ahead. I just kept working working and eventually caught up. Then there was more drama with Fabio and Oscar so I knew I was on the podium and I'm happy with that," explained the Barcelona native who was second in the final race of last season.
Sunday's Race 2 can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world. The race starts at 15.30, with the show beginning 10 minutes earlier.