Manuel Pagliani stole victory from fellow Italian Stefano Manzi on the run into the line at Misano to take his first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup victory. The 17-year-old has ridden superbly since the beginning of this, his first Cup season and had already been second three times. It looked to be going that way again as Manzi took the lead with just a few corners to go, only to run fractionally wide on the exit of the final turn allowing Pagliani victory.
Marcos Ramirez, the 15-year-old Spaniard, shadowed the pair of them to third but Karel Hanika fans were already celebrating the 17-year-old Czech's Cup victory even though he didn't finish. He suffered an engine problem while leading on lap 12 of 17. The only rider who had any chance of wresting the title from him going into the race was Jorge Martín but the 15-year-old Spaniard crossed the line ninth with handling problems and Hanika has an unassailable points lead even with the two race at Aragon to go.
Last lap plans
Manzi had chased Ramirez and Pagliani onto the last lap and looked to be in the perfect slipstreaming position, especially being the smallest of them. Tucked away down the back straight he moved cleverly into the lead. “It was a great race, a lot of fun,” said Manzi. “I had to work hard from the start but then Hanika and I could break away. When he stopped there was no more slipstream and the others could catch up. My last lap was good, nearly good enough but I just couldn't get across the line first.”
It was clear that Manzi had a last lap plan. Pagliani admitted otherwise. “No, no plan at all, it wasn't possible I just went as hard as I could. Out of the last corner I just tucked everything in and made myself as small as possible,” he said glowing with enthusiasm even though he hasn't the biggest smile in the world. He admitted that the race had not been easy. “Strange, the bike in qualifying was good even though not perfect. Something changed for the race though, the temperature or something because in the middle of the corners as I tried to open the throttle the front wanted to break away, I really struggled with that quite a bit and had to ride round it.”
Ramirez took the last step of the podium for the third time in succession. “That's OK, another great race, really tough all the way but in Aragon I have to do better than third. It might have happened today but on the last lap it just didn't work out, I could find a way past in the last two corners.”
Hanika looked distraught after his engine stopped when he had pulled Manzi clear of the pack but by the time the race finished he was back in the pit lane and almost managed a smile. “Of course I wanted to win this race, I would always like to win but these things happen in racing and it is great to have the Cup. It has been a wonderful season, the high point winning my home race in Brno, that will stay with me all my life. I am also looking forward to Aragon and having another two good races.”
Martín is also looking forward to Spain. “This just hasn't been a good weekend, I fought the bike through practice and with a change of temperature or something I had to fight even harder through the race. I am sure it will be better in Aragon and yes, if you push me I'll say it, I will win both races there,” he concluded with his cool smile.
Intense all the way
It was yet another thrilling race from first lap to last and in the early stages 11 riders looked potential winners as the advantage swung back and forth dramatically. Finally it was pole man Enea Bastianini, the 15-year-old Italian, who finally took fourth after the Ramirez and Pagliani had chased down Manzi following Hanika's stoppage. Fifth man home was South African Darryn Binder. The 15-year-old had his best ride of the season, his KTM bearing witness to the closeness of the action with a tyre mark across it's nose from the rear of Scott Deroue, the Silverstone winner, who finished eighth.
The final two Rookies Cup races of the season take place in Aragon, Spain on September 28th and 29th.