Red Bull Rookies: Yuki Kunii snatches Mugello thriller
Just 1.5 seconds separated the top 13 at the end of 16 incredible laps as Japanese 15-year-old Yuki Kunii flashed across the Mugello finish line ahead of Can Öncü and Adrián Carrasco. Turkish 14-year-old Can Öncü now leads the points table by seven from fellow Jerez winner Carlos Tatay, the 15-year-old Spaniard, was on the fourth KTM RC 205 R across the line.
“Safety racing,” said Kunii with an easy smile. “I was happy to be in the first group, I knew that I could get to the front but there was no way to get clear so I just waited. I really pushed only on the last lap. I knew that Can was the fastest rider but I was lucky, he made a mistake and that was perfect for me.”
“Once I got in front I knew I could win it, just kept my head down and concentrated. The bike was great it was such a fun race,” concluded Kunii.
“Yes I made a mistake,” admitted Can. “There was no way to get away in front, this track is slipstreaming everywhere. I tried but I couldn’t get away. I knew that I had to be in the right position on the last lap so I did, I got in front but then just made a small mistake changing down two gears, the wheel stepped out and I went wide. I fought back to still try and win and almost did it.”
“I’m OK with the result, happy now to be ahead in the points and I will work hard before Assen to do a better job there. Thanks to everyone around me for the great bike and the great race,” added the cheerful teen who had got Kunii by the line and only lost by 0.031 seconds.
“Wow, what a race,” gasped the exhausted Carrasco. The 15-year-old Spaniard admitted that he didn’t believe he would be on the podium. “It was such a fantastic race, so many riders. With five or six laps to go I understood that I really had to push to get a result. I was right in the middle of the group and I didn’t think I could get on the podium but I tried. I am so happy with that.”
Tatay was not too upset with fourth. “It’s only my first year so it’s not bad, some good points. The bike was good, not quite perfect but I enjoyed the battle. I got to the front but with everyone slipstreaming and that crazy last lap I just couldn’t get on the podium. That’s OK, there are more races.”
Pole man Meikon Kawakami finished eighth and the 16-year-old Brazilian was naturally a little disappointed but is already looking forward to Assen. “My size and weight doesn’t help,” he said with his big smile. “I will work on losing some weight for the next race. It was still a lot of fun and I was fighting at the front but the last lap was just crazy and in the end I wasn’t in the right place but now I know I can race at the front and I will do it again.”
Kawakami has four weeks to trim down as Race 1 in the Netherlands is on June 30th.