The Italians played their home cards well during qualifying for Saturday’s Red Bull MotoGP Cup race at Misano with 15-year-old Enea Bastianini robbing pole from 17 year old Manuel Pagliani by just two thousandths of a second. Cup leader Karel Hanika will start from fifth after sliding off early in the session but the 17-year-old Czech is well ahead of his lone points rival Jorge Martín after the 15-year-old Spaniard could only manage eighth.
It was another two Spaniards, 15-year-old Marcos Ramirez and 16-year-old Joan Mir, who qualified third and fourth and with the top 11 covered by less than a second another super-close Rookies Cup race is all but guaranteed.
Bastianini to win
To accuse the Italians of a home track advantage is rather unkind as Bastianini explained. “I’ve just done two races here, one on a Moto3 and one on a 125. Of course this is my first year in Rookies Cup and I am so happy to have my first pole. We sorted the bike out early today and now it really is perfect, so much fun to ride,” said the Jerez Race 2 winner who has a simple plan for the coming race; “I’m going to win,” he says with the fabulous grin that he also manages in much less successful circumstances.
Pagliani, also in his first Cup season, might have been annoyed at missing out by so little especially as he was fastest in both free sessions while Bastianini was fourth in each, but that isn’t him. “That’s OK, there is still the race,” he says with a shrug and his usual deadpan expression. “The bike is pretty good but not perfect, a little trouble with the front, I am not sure if we should change anything though because it is not too bad.”
Changes needed – Ramirez
Ramirez, fresh from two third places at Silverstone, is likely to have made changes before he joins them on the front row on Saturday afternoon. “When I am braking the rear is way off the ground so I would like to do something about that before the race. The rest is not bad and I am certainly enjoying the track much more than last year when I hated the rain. I think it should be a great race.”
Hanika lost the chance to leave Silverstone as the Cup holder when Diego Perez almost crashed beside him on the final lap and the pair collided, leaving Hanika on the floor while the 15 year-old-Spaniard finished seventh. Qualifying saw Hanika in the dirt again but this was all his fault as he slid off on lap four while looking a good bet for pole. “The front just folded as I flicked it left into the second corner, it is a bit bumpy there, my mistake.”
The mechanics did a fantastic job of repairing the bike after it was returned to the pit lane. With less than six minutes remaining he was off again but did not improve. “The bike wasn’t perfect and neither was I,” he said simply. “I think we are both good enough to win the race though,” he added with his great smile.
Martín, who trails by 72 points with 75 on offer from the remaining three races, has to string the victories together and is not optimistic. “I am just not happy with the bike, the front isn’t working right and we haven’t been able to sort it out today. It is my first time here as I missed last year’s race with the broken collarbone and I am struggling.”
There is just a single Cup race at Misano, it starts at 16.30 CET on Saturday. It can be seen on TV stations around the world and on www.redbull.tv with the show starting 10 minutes earlier.
Source: Red Bull Rookies
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