Karel Hanika sits on pole position for this weekend's Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup races at the British Grand Prix after a superb display on a windswept Silverstone throughout Friday's practice sessions. The 16 year old Czech had an advantage of almost half a second over the rest of the field for much of the 2nd qualifying session but towed Joe Roberts round on his final lap to lift the 14 year old American onto the front row beside him and nudge 16 year old German Florian Alt into 3rd.
After a terribly frustrating Estoril, where he failed to score a point through no fault of his own, French 15 year old Simon Danilo is thrilled to be heading the 2nd row just ahead of the Cup leader, 16 year old Dutchman, Scott Deroue.
The wind actually subsided a little for the 2nd qualifying session of the afternoon so most riders improved on their times, 2 notable exceptions were frequent front runners Kyle Ryde and Lorenzo Baldassarri, the 14 year old Briton and the 15 year old Italian qualified 6th and 7th from their times in the 1st qualifying.
Ryde had an engine problem early in the 2nd qualifying that forced him to switch to one of the spare machines and it just did not work well enough for him to improve his lap time. “The guys did their best to set up the suspension the same as my bike in the pit lane but the front suspension wasn't right plus all the little things like handlebar grips and lever positions meant that I just couldn't ride it the way I should. Still I am sure they will give me a good engine to put in my bike and I am happy with the set-up on that so it shouldn't be a problem for the race.”
For Baldassarri there was no technical problem and he was not that upset with the session. “It was mainly because I was riding alone and didn't have a slipstream. Then towards the end I got the chance to put in some good laps but the tyres were worn, I had a nasty slide with the front and then the next lap with the rear so I knew that I should not push it any more. The bike set up is good though so I am looking forward to the race.”
Naturally Hanika also has his eyes on the race. “I can't wait, I really love the track, it is so fast and open that I enjoyed it from the first lap this morning. I am new to the track but Gustl Auinger, our rider coach, helped me so much and the WP guys worked on the settings and really sorted things out. It was windy in the first qualifying and that made things very difficult but better in the final session. The bike is working very well now so I have no problems at all.”
Roberts explained that Hanika just appeared at the right moment. “He came past and I realised that if I was going to get on the front row, this was my chance. I tucked in and just told myself not to crash. I learnt a few things from him so I am looking forward to using them in the race. The bike is working well and it is my first time on the front row,” said Roberts who turns 15 on Saturday.
A few riders lost quick laps when they were cancelled by race direction because the rider strayed over the curbing. Those effected included Danilo and Alt. “It was a bit frustrating in the first qualifying,' said Alt. “I was only onto the green edging by about 20cm but now I know and it is the same for everyone. The 2nd session was good and I think I am in a good way for the race, we will look at perhaps changing the rear suspension a little but basically the bike is great.”
Danilo was just happy to have put Estoril behind him. “I am really enjoying this track and the bike is working well, we just changed the pre load on the rear a little this afternoon and I am very happy with things. Deroue was just as content, “I am moving up the grid, 7th in Jerez, 6th Estoril and 5th here, the bike is great and I am having fun.”
Last year's Saturday winner in the wet, Lukas Trautmann the 16 year old Austrian, fell off in the 1st qualifying, breaking a bone in his right foot. He missed the 2nd session but hopes to race and hopes that it rains. Yui Watanabe fell in the 2nd qualifying and the 16 Japanese girl was taken to the medical centre to check a previously broken collarbone.
Race 1 on Saturday starts at 17.30 CET and Sunday's race is at 17.00. Both races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.