Carlos Tatay sits in pole position for his first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race after a brilliant 25 minutes of qualifying on his Moto3 Spec KTM. The 14-year-old Spaniard bettered Cup favourite, 14-year-old Turk Can Öncü, by 0.132 seconds, with 16-year-old Japanese Ryusei Yamanaka completing the front row.
"I never thought I would be on pole," laughed Tatay. "I hoped for top eight or ten. But this is great, we did a bit of work on the bike through free practice, just making small changes and now I think it is perfect. This is one of my favourite tracks from riding here in PreMoto3," he admitted with a broad grin.
And for the race?
"Well of course I will push and try and get away, try to break the group," enthused Tatay. "But I know it will be hard. Gelling pole was hard, I had to push, I really did."
"The race will be different, asserted Can Öncü. "The guys were following me and that is OK, if it makes them fast that is good, no problem for me. What I am happy about is that now my bike is working well, I wasn't so happy with it this morning."
"Also I am happy because I can do consistent 49s and I can do those on my own so I think that will make the race different, we'll see," concluded last year's Cup number three.
"I wanted pole," admitted Yamanaka with a grin. "This morning I didn't have a good feeling, that was me. Then we improved the bike a bit, put on a different sprocket, the bike got better and so did I. I thought I could get pole, but still, third is OK and I will go for the win tomorrow."
"I will go for the win and ride for the championship," enthused Deniz Öncü, the 14-year-old twin of Can. "I am not so happy with fourth, I should have done better but it was more or less OK," he smiled. "Racing for the win and racing for the championship, it's the same thing. We improved the bike and I am looking forward to it."
Fast Finn, fit finger
Peetu Paavilainen, the 16-year-old Finn, shrugged off his injured right thumb from the preseason test and put himself in fifth. "Yes it's about 90% OK now, I forget about it when I get on the bike. I have a really good feeling now with the KTM, the suspension is sorted and I am really enjoying it."
With just two seconds covering the field except for 15-year-old Colombian who upset his elbow in an FP2 fall, it is almost certain to be a tight battle as usual when the grid lines up to start season 12 on Saturday.
Those who want to join season 13 can now apply online.