Misano is the venue for the Grand Prix of San Marino and the Rimini Riviera, a title that shouts holiday but a race that will be anything but for the teenagers of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. For the only time this year there is a just a single Rookies race this GP weekend and Saturday's contest has the makings of another classic.
Brno demonstrated how impossible it is to predict any results with 2 new winners and very unusual races. Livio Loi, the 15 year old Belgian, had only twice been in the top 10 in his 1st season with his best finish a 7th before he got to the Czech Republic. He had taken the trouble to go there before to learn the track though and it paid off with a 2nd and a win.
He has done the same at Misano so there is no real reason why he cannot repeat the victory he claimed in Brno. Of course 16 year old Karel Hanika would like to stop him, the Czech won his home race on Saturday then fell of on the 1st lap in Race 2. He has been a fast learner all year and is both unlikely to repeat the error and likely to quickly find his way round Misano.
Another error that will not be repeated is Philipp Oettl's early ease-off at the end of last year's race that gave the win to fellow 16 year old German Florian Alt. That was Alt's 1st Cup victory, this year he has 4 wins already and his wonderful consistency has netted him a handsome points lead with just 3 races remaining. He stands on 186, Scott Deroue on 155 and Oettl on 140.
It makes Alt arguably one of the least likely to win in Misano. All he needs to do now is stay out of trouble and get mid pack points. Of course he is a racer though and that probably is not the way he will be thinking when he goes to the line in Italy. Keeping out of trouble would have served 16 year old Dutchman Deroue well in Brno, his fall in race 2 cost him dear.
Oettl did not even make the start in Brno Race 2, he was running such a fever that trying to get on the bike made no sense. So with neither of his rival's scoring even 4th for Alt in Race 2 was plenty, especially as it backed up 3rd in Race 1, well ahead of Deroue and Oettl who were 9th and 10th.
There are still 75 points at stake for the last 3 races so things can certainly turn around but Deroue knows that he has to recover the form that made him a double winner in Portugal if he is going to tackle Alt. Similarly Oettl needs to get back to the early season form that saw him score 2nd,4th,1st, 2nd, 3rd in succession.
Things have changed since those experienced Rookies were having things their own way though. It is not just Hanika and Loi who have complicated things, fellow 1st year Rookie Stefano Manzi was 3rd in Brno. The 13 year old Italian first shot to prominence in the tricky wet/dry Race 1 in Silverstone. A real shock when he appeared at the head of the field, he fell at the 2nd to last corner while still in the lead group.
Since then he has been in the lead pack a few times but 2nd at the Sachsenring was something special. Since he was also on the podium in Brno it is a fair bet that he has thoughts of at least that in his home race at Misano. But then the rest of the talented Rookies field have similar plans.
Unfortunately there will be 3 Rookies missing from the Misano grid. German 14 year old Willi Albert is recovering at home from concussion and a trapped nerve in his arm and Spanish 14 year old Jorge Martin broke his collarbone and a bone in his hand in the same accident, both plan to race in Aragon later this month. Simon Danilo, the 15 year old Frenchman is in hospital near his home in Lille. News of his encouraging recovery from spinal injury is posted on his website www.simondanilo.com and messages for him can be left there.
The Rookies Cup race at Misano can be seen live on TV stations around the world and on www.redbull.tv. The race starts at 16.30 CET on Saturday September 15th with the show beginning 10 minutes before race time.