Two points - all that separates Ayumu Sasaki from the 2016 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The 15-year-old Japanese crossed the line fourth after 15 thrilling laps of Motorland Aragon while his rival Aleix Viu took second behind Kaito Toba and ahead of Rory Skinner.
It was a fabulous six rider battle to the line and Sasaki thought he had the title. "I knew I just had to follow Aleix, I was third into the last corner and that would give me the Cup. Then Rory got inside me, I still thought it was OK as I could drive past on the exit but Rory wobbled, I thought he might hit me and I just rolled off a fraction."
"The race pace really was too slow," explained Sasaki. "Because of the slipstream you can't get away and we were stuck together but we should have gone quicker. Rory caught us and then on the last lap Fernández almost did the same. Now I just need one more point tomorrow, I just have to keep calm and concentrate."
In fact he needs two points as Viu would have to win on Sunday to match his total. They would then have three wins each but Viu has more second places so would take the Cup in the event of a points tie
Raúl Fernández, the 15-year-old Spaniard who started the race from the front row with a very outside chance of winning the Cup, was brought down on the first lap and had to race through from last to seventh. "I enjoyed it," he grinned even though he cannot now be champion. "The bike was good and I really had a good time. I have another chance tomorrow and I will go for the win."
Man of the race could be Skinner after the 14-year-old Scot ran off on the first lap. "We changed the setting for the race and the front wasn't quite right, I ran off and was then right at the back. I thought the race was over honestly. But I stuck my head down and just did what I could. Once I got through the big pack I could see the lead group ahead and just concentrated on them."
"The front still wasn't right and we will probably change it for tomorrow but I was happy with the podium, I didn't think that was possible after the first lap," concluded Skinner who had a double third last year.
"Yes Im very happy with second," exclaimed 15-year-old Spaniard Viu. "It keeps the championship battle going and I had just about a perfect race. I crashed yesterday but I knew I had good race pace and we had a great battle, fighting all the way with Toba, Sasaki and the other guys, a lot of fun."
"The last laps were crazy and the last corner even more," he enthused. "I thought I could win it but at the last corner realised that second was better than a crash. I will go for the win tomorrow, that is all I can do. I know I can only win the Cup if Ayumu falls but there is nothing I can do about that, I just have to race to win."
Toba had made his race tactics clear. "I knew I needed to be second onto the back straight onto the last lap," explained the 16-year-old Japanese. "That is what I did and it worked perfectly. I know I will have to think of something different tomorrow as the others will be expecting it."
A great ride from Filip Salač, the 14-year-old Czech who only lost fourth to Sasaki in a photo finish ahead of Marc Garcia. "I'm happy with that, fifth is my best result," enthused the first year Rookie. "I was happy in the group and didn't want to do too much overtaking until the end. Then on the last lap Sasaki got out of shape in front of me and I was in the wrong gear coming onto the back straight. I still tried for the podium though."
The final race of the season is at 15.30 CET on Sunday. It can be seen live on TV channels around the globe and on www.redbull.tv with the show starting 10 minutes before the race.