Lorenzo Baldassarri rode an incredible last 2 laps, taking 3 seconds out of Arthur Sissis on a drying track to win the first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the Dutch TT at Assen. The 14 year old Italian and the 16 year old Australian had fought almost the entire race distance but a mistake by Baldassarri seemed to have handed the race to Sissis until his incredible recovery.
James Flitcroft, the 15 year old Briton took 3rd after setting off from his first pole position, getting the better of a superb struggle with 14 year old Portuguese Ivo Lopes. There was great drama and battles all through the field as usual but it was the race for the win that had everyone fixated.
“At first I just wanted to feel my way around,” said Sissis, explaining the search for grip in the early laps after a storm swept across the track just before the start, soaking it completely. “Then we got going and it was just me and Lorenzo. Then I saw on my pit board that I had a 2 second lead and looking at one of the big screens I saw a replay of Lorenzo having a big moment so I knew what had happened.”
“I just kept going but I guess I wasn’t making enough use of the dry patches because the gap came down to a second and then suddenly Lorenzo was going past. I got back at him and managed to get in front but just drifted wide coming out of the fast left hander and that was it,” concluded Sissis.
Baldassarri admitted that he was right on the limit. “I didn’t make a great start but then everything was going OK until I nearly crashed coming out of the chicane. I knew then it would be very difficult but I started to close and then I just took a big risk to crash because it was the only way if I was going to win,” said Baldassarri perfectly summing up that duel for victory.
At first it had been a three way contest because Tomas Vavrous stormed off the line from his 2nd place starting position and took a lead of over a second on the first lap. He was soon hunted down though by Sissis and Baldassarri and they broke clear of the pack.
Vavrous crashed on lap 4 after being passed by Sissis for the lead. That left the pair to race each other a comfortable distance ahead of Flitcroft and Lopes. They in turn pulled each other clear of the battle for 5th that developed between Silverstone winner Lukas Trautmann the 15 year old Austrian and 14year old Italian Kevin Argino who had stood on the podium.
Trautmann took 5th at the end but only after the pair had been caught on the final lap by Philipp Oettl, the 15 year old German bouncing back from the frustrations of his broken collarbone to pick up a very close 7th.
The biggest smile on the podium was from James Flitcroft who has leapt clear of his early season frustrations to claim his first podium. “This is just fantastic, I just needed the self belief to be able to do this. This is the best thing that has happened in my career. I am looking forward to tomorrow’s race and I don’t care if it is wet or dry.”
Saturday’s 2nd race at Assen is at the unusually early time of 10.25 CET. Watch the races on TV around the world or on www.redbull.tv with the shows beginning 10 minutes before race start.
Race 1 Classification
1. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) 29 minutes 41.125 seconds
2. Arthur Sissis (AUS) +0.012
3. James Flitcroft (GBR) +16.338
4. Ivo Lopes (POR) +16.929
5. Lukas Trautmann (AUT) +26.455
6. Kevin Argino (ITA) +26.699
7. Philipp Oettl (GER) +27.065
8. Joakim Niemi (FIN) +35.144
9. Scott Deroue (NED) +39.729
10. Brad Binder (RSA) +43.014
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