Deniz Öncü put in a perfect performance to win Race 1 of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup weekend at the Sachsenring. The 14-year-old Turk bested his twin brother Can by 4.455 seconds after 19 laps. Cup leader Can had to battle all race just to make the podium and was chased over the line by Ryusei Yamanaka, Filip Salač, Adrián Carrasco and Steward Garcia, all covered by half a second after a thriller.
The Turks had qualified first and second but Can did not make the best start from pole and it was 15-year-old Spaniard Carrasco who took the early lead. He soon came under pressure from Deniz Öncü though. “Yes I didn’t make a very good start,” explained Deniz. “I was back in fourth or fifth I think but I soon found myself and went after the lead.”
“I pushed hard to get in front and just kept pushing. Normally I would expect Can to come to me but I guess he made a mistake or something because my board showed me that I was getting away. It was also showing me the laps and I was watching, 16, 15, 14, it was such a long race, I thought it would never end,” he laughed.
“It did finish and now Can must give me 10 euro so that’s really good. It is also good to have the points and my first win for a while,” concluded the happy character who won the same race last year in the pouring rain and grabbed a second 2017 victory in Race 2 in Brno.
“Yes I have to give my brother 10 euro,” grinned Can. “It was wonderful to be on the podium with him, great for our family. I had a small problem from the start and I tried to solve it a little bit but it was difficult and couldn’t catch him today. I think that tomorrow will be better and I think that we can have a great race. I am looking forward to tomorrow and still happy to be leading the championship and be on the podium again today, thanks to everyone.”
Yamanaka was thrilled with his second third place of the season especially after a couple of close moments. “I got a good start but on the first lap I was almost on the gravel and I lost a lot of places. I got back on track and I went very hard to catch the group,” explained the 16-year-old Japanese who set the fastest lap of the race.
“I battled all the way but with a few laps to go Can and I touched, also with Filip and I broke my clutch lever. From there it was very hard to control the braking but I went as fast as I could and I am very happy to be on the podium again,” concluded Yamanaka who was third in Race 1 at Assen but slid off in Race 2.
Just 0.019 seconds or a tyre’s width behind and off the podium came Salač and the 16-year-old Czech was philosophical about that. “It was very close after a very hard race. The rear tyre was past its best after about 4 laps so we had to manage that. Perhaps I am lucky to finish at all because when Can and Yamanaka went wide then came back across I hit Yamanaka and broke his fairing with my arm, that was painful. Then I made a small mistake at the last corner and lost third.”
“I know I have to do things a little differently tomorrow, I have to pass them and get away because when I race with them they slow me down. It will be different in Race 2,” added Salač.
Carrasco was not thrilled with fifth. “It should have been better,” mused the 15-year-old Spaniard. “I got to the front at the start but then when Yamanaka came past and Deniz it messed me up a bit. Yamanaka slowed the group and Deniz got away. Towards the end, the rear was sliding a lot and I didn’t push so hard. I will manage things differently tomorrow.”
Garcia was a lot happier with sixth. “I am very happy with my progress,” beamed the 18-year-old Colombian. “I got going in the race and found a good pace and rhythm. It was a very hard race but great fun and I am enjoying the bike. Tomorrow I think I will manage even more and the race will be even more wonderful,” he laughed.
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