Jake Gagne won the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup by finishing second to Danny Kent in a fantastic close to the 2010 season. Daijiro Hiura, the 16 year old Japanese finished third in both race and Cup. Californian 17 year old Gagne started from back on the 3rd row of the grid while 16 year old Briton Kent was on pole but Gagne made a nonsense of his qualifying position by jumping into 5th almost from the start and finishing the first lap in 4th place with Kent leading.
Gagne had gone into the race with an 11 point advantage over Kent and while the Briton clearly had the pace to win he soon realised that he needed to also try and influence what happened behind as Gagne moved into 3rd on lap 2 behind 17 year old Australian Josh Hook.
In a string of masterful moves Kent slowed the race down so that others could join the battle and hopefully push Gagne out of that essential third. It worked as Alessio Cappella, Kevin Calia, Daijiro Hiura, Daniel Ruiz, Brad Binder and Harry Stafford all joined the battle at the front.
“I realised what he was trying to do,” said Gagne. “He's clever and he needed to try and get the other guys between us. I gust kept my head down and knew that as long as I was close to him I had a good chance of getting the points I needed.”
Kent tried everything. “I knew that I needed to get some other guys between us, just 2 was enough so I played it every way I could but Jake was just too good today and all credit to him he rode a great race. I did everything that I could, won the race but it wasn't enough. It's been a great season with a lot of great battles.”
Hiura was a little frustrated with 3rd. “We were all so close that I didn't see my pit board and didn't realise it was the last lap. I really wanted to win the last race of the year.”
It was an incredible win after a tough weekend for Gagne who's engine stopped in the 1st qualifying session meaning that he went out on an unfamiliar spare bike for 2nd. “It just didn't feel right and I couldn't do better than 10th in the 2nd session. They put a good engine in my bike for the race and that was a lot better. I wasn't too worried I was pretty sure that if I made a good start I could run with the guys and do what I needed to take the Cup.”
It could so easily have turned out differently though if any of the top group got tangled together as was demonstrated when Hook highsided on lap 8 and 15 year old South African Binder fell swerving to avoid him. They were just behind the lead trio at the time, neither were hurt but were out of the race.
While 15 year old Italian Kevin Calia had been towards the front from the start after qualifying 3rd an impressive charge came from 18 year old Spaniard Ruiz who charged through from 15th on the grid to join the lead battle by lap 8.
Calia made great use of the slipstream through the ultra fast right handers down the back 'straight' and led 8 of the 17 laps across the line. “I enjoyed the race and did everything I could. It really was a great race, slipstreaming and everything but in the last lap Hiura and I just touched a bit and I was 4th, that's racing.”
Ruiz made it all the way to lead briefly and was in the hunt for the podium right up to the last lap. “In Practice there was something wrong in my head and I was just trying too hard. For the race I freed myself up and enjoyed it, it was so much fun fighting my way through. Only at the end I was a little cautious because I didn't want to bump into Jake and Danny. Then on the last lap I got pushed a bit wide but 5th is not a bad end to the weekend and it's been a great year.”
Stepping down from the podium with his FIM Cup medal Gagne spoke of what the Rookies Cup has meant to him. “Just about all my roadracing experience has been in the Rookies Cup,” explained the ex motocrosser. “I started with the Rookies Cup in the US 3 years ago and then with these 2 years in the Rookies Cup in Europe I have learnt so much, not just the great GP tracks I've ridden on but so much about riding from the great coaches, Gustl (Auinger), Kevin (Schwantz) and Raul (Jara) and talking to the media, just everything to help me with my career.”
1. Danny Kent (GBR) 30 minutes 59.551 seconds (139.082)
2. Jacob Gagne (USA) +0.060
3. Daijiro Hiura (JPN) +0.401
4. Kevin Calia (ITA) +0.577
5. Daniel Ruiz (ESP) +1.006
6. Harry Stafford (GBR) +1.055
7. Alessio Cappella (ITA) +1.363
8. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) +2.189
9. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +2.258
10. Alan Techer (FRA) +2.753
Final Cup Standings
1. Jacob Gagne (USA) 170 points
2. Danny Kent (GBR) 164
3. Daijiro Hiura (JPN) 125
4. Daniel Ruiz (ESP) 115
5. Brad Binder (RSA) 109
6. Kevin Calia (ITA) 97
7. Harry Stafford (GBR) 79
8. Niccolo Antonelli (ITA) 56
9. Alessio Cappella (ITA) 53
10. Alexander Kristiansson (SWE) 52