Daijiro Hiura got the best of an 8 man lead battle on the desperate run in to the line to win the Mugello round of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The 15 year old Japanese bumped elbows with 17 year old South African Mathew Scholtz rushing for the last corner but got the better of the clash to win while Scholtz recovered to take 2nd ahead of fellow countryman 14 year old Brad Binder.
Any one of the leading 8 could have won the 15 lap classic and Cup leader Danny Kent was frustrated to lose his points advantage to Hiura as he crossed the line 4th with the other Jerez winner, 18 year old Daniel Ruiz, 6th from pole position. Kevin Calia, the 15 year old Italian was 5th with fellow countryman 14 year old Niccolo Antonelli 7th. Jake Gagne, the 16 year old Californian was 8th having dropped off the back of the lead pack in the closing stages.
Hiura won his first Rookies race in Portugal back in 2008 and was glad to be once more on the top step of the podium. “It has been a long wait, I am so happy to have made it. We had a great race and it was impossible to break away. Mathew and I bumped going to the last corner but I braked so so late and still managed to get round OK and in the lead. Then I just went for the line.”
Scholtz wasn't too unhappy with 2nd. “It was a great race. I wanted to be in front on the last lap not to get mixed up with the guys all trying to pass and get in the way. I got in front but then Daijiro got alongside coming to the last corner and we touched. I got round OK but he was too far ahead to pick up the slipstream and we were all in a pack so the result is OK.”
Binder's 3rd came after an incredible ride that saw him the only one of the pack to make any kind of a break. With 7 laps to go he got in front and with a superb 2 minute 3 second lap that was over a second quicker than anyone had gone to that point he opened out almost a 1 second advantage. He held it for almost a lap but the others had been forced to wake up and closed in on the South African, swiping aside his lead as they went onto lap 12.
Ruiz then bettered Binder's time but the lap recorded ended up in the hands of Calia. Fellow Italian Antonelli also had speed at the end closing back on the lead group after a mid race mistake. “I got up to 3rd or 4th but then braked too late at the end of the main straight, I went wide and lost the pack completely. I fought back, got held up a bit by Gagne and then just managed to catch them on the last lap.”
Kent was annoyed with the way the race had gone. “It was pretty rough in the pack, I got hit a few times, Binder hit my clutch lever so hard the revs just went wild. On the last lap it was Daijiro who pumped and I'm just glad I managed to get some good points and go on to the next race.”
Ruiz felt similarly. “It was very tough race, I tried to break away but it was just impossible, I'm disappointed not to get on the podium but the points are good and I'll try again in Assen, not a bad weekend at all.”
Frustrated was Jake Gagne who only qualified 14 but got a great start and was in the middle of the action for most of the race. “I was lapping about 2 seconds quicker than I had in practice so the bike felt completely different. I was making mistakes and when they upped the pace towards the end I couldn't go with them and lost the slipstream.”
The action continues with 2 races at Assen, June 25th and 26th.
1. Daijiro Hiura (JPN) 31 minutes 22.777 seconds
2. Mathew Scholtz (RSA) +0.277
3. Brad Binder (RSA) +0.280
4. Danny Kent (GBR) +0.288
5. Kevin Calia (ITA) +0.302
6. Daniel Ruiz (SPA) +0.309
7. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) +0.384
8. Jacob Gagne (USA) +11.499
9. Alessio Cappella (ITA) +24.906
10. Phillip Oettl (GER) +24.953