Ayumu Sasaki, Raúl Fernández and Aleix Viu crossed the Sachsenring stripe together chased buy another five KTMs to decide Race 1 of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup weekend at the the German Grand Prix. Just 0.678 seconds covered the top eight but it was the 15-year-old points leader who stood on the top step of the podium.
The three set off from the front row but of the 15-year-old Spaniards it was second qualifier Viu who took at early lead and third qualifier Fernández who struggled and dropped back into the nine man pack that fought over the top positions.
A game of two halves
Viu had a clear advantage in the first two sectors and was able to steal several bike lengths over the opposition. But the pack would close him down through the third and fourth sectors yet he still managed to lead 10 of the 19 laps.
"The track was more slippery than yesterday," explained Sasaki. "Especially in the first sections. So we were taking it easy there but Viu was going full speed," Sasaki grinned. "I pushed more through the second half of the lap and we could catch back up there."
The thinking game
"I had a plan for the last lap," explained Sasaki. "I was thinking of the championship. If I could win I would, if I could finish on the podium I would, I was going to be calm, I wanted points. It was all very close but I could win without a big risk, I am very happy."
Fernández also played it cool for second. "We changed the bike after qualifying and it didn't feel right, I just didn't have a good feeling and I couldn't run at the front. I tried to change the way I was riding a bit, where I put my weight on the bike and I could make it work a little better so I am very happy to pick up the points for second. It is so important for the championship."
The wrong half
Though he lead the most distance by far and more laps than anyone it was clear that Viu would have trouble winning. "I was quick in the first sectors because that is just corners but where the track got faster I was struggling for speed, the wind was up and my gearing didn't seem as good."
"It was a great race and I really thought it was possible to win but at the last corner I was just a bit wide. Frustrating to have my two rivals in the points finish in front of me but it still was a lot of fun," enthused Viu with a huge smile.
In the game
Kaito Toba and Makar Yurchenko were fourth and fifth after the 16-year-old Japanese and 17-year-old Russian both had the lead. In fact Toba led into the first corner on the last lap. "I made a mistake, got in to fast and went wide. I still thought I could win it but the last two corners were just crazy," he said with a laugh. "It was better to finish than crash."
"It was great to be in front," said Yurchenko. "I was in front a bit in Jerez but this was more like it and I felt good. I could pass the guys and get to the front but in some sections I was struggling a bit and in the last laps I just couldn't hold the lead. I'm the biggest guy so it was tough to overtake but it was a great race, I loved it."
Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30 and can be seen live on TV channels around the globe and on www.redbull.tv with the show starting 10 minutes before the race.