Binder takes pole for first Rookies Cup race of the season
Brad Binder sits on pole position for the first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the season on Saturday. The 15 year old South African was just 2 tenths quicker than 14 year old German Philipp Oettl with French 16 year old Alan Techer 3rd completing the front row.
Binder admitted that it had not been easy, “Man I was trying hard there but the bike is working great and I was really enjoying it. Earlier in the day I was finding the wind a bit of a problem but I got used to it and wasn’t worried in that last session. I think I can run that pace in the race, I’m going to try it, we’ll see.”
It is Binder’s third year in the Rookies Cup and on paper he is favourite but he knows there are 24 other riders out to prove the form book wrong. Looking super smooth and only a fraction slower than Binder, Oettl was happy with his day. “Yes the bike is working well, I feel very good. We worked on the set up through the day, lowered the pre-load on the rear because we had too much weight on the front and after that the bike was more stable on the brakes. It is good to be up the front of course, I’m perhaps a little surprised but the test in Estoril went well and I like the track here. I was happy at that pace and normally in the race I go a bit quicker so we’ll see.”
Techer’s third place was just what he needed on the return to the track where he badly broke his arm last year, an injury that ruined his season. “I am really enjoying it and happy with the way things are going. The bike is working well now especially after we hardened up the rear suspension. It was sitting down too much through the fast corners, now it feels great. The wind is a bit of a problem through the last section but that is the same for everyone.”
Italy heads the second row with 14 year old Baldassarri doing a fantastic job in his first Rookies event. “That was so much fun, I love the track and the bike is working well, we had to change the front suspension a bit because the rear wheel was coming up under heavy braking but that is OK now. It was tough through the last corners as the wind kept pushing us wide but still a lot of fun. I am so much looking forward to the race tomorrow I am sure that it will be a great fight and I can’t wait.”
Fifth fastest is 17 year old Tomas Vavrous from the Czech Republic. “It is great to be towards the front, just what I needed to start the year. We got the bike sorted out and I was pushing very hard to get that time. Towards the end the rear tyre was quite worn and was sliding around quite a lot. I also had a bit of a problem with my left wrist, it was like that in the Estoril test but I think it will be OK for the race.”
Out of luck today was 14 year old Italian Kevin Argino, he missed the 2nd qualifying session after being stricken with a bad bout of hay fever that could not be immediately sorted out in the medical centre. He was struggling to breathe and though his situation has improved he will stay overnight in the hospital in Jerez for observation before hopefully returning to the track for the race.
Even in the extremely blustery conditions there were few fallers. James Flitcroft, Deni Cudic and Hafiq Azmi were three who went down but there were no injuries. Malaysian 14 year old Azmi missed the 2nd timed session because his bike was damaged but still qualified 10th fastest just behind fellow newcomer Kyle Ryde, the 14 year old Briton. Saturday’s race starts at 16.30 CET and can be seen on TV in over 40 countries and via live stream both on www.redbullrookiescup.com and on www.redbull.com .
Combined Qualifying Classification
1. Brad Binder (RSA) 1 minute 54.297 seconds
2. Philipp Oettl (GER) +0.238
3. Alan Techer (FRA) +0.429
4. Lorenzo Baldassarri (ITA) +0.708
5. Tomas Vavrous (CZE) +0.820
6. Florian Alt (GER) +0.893
7. Arthur Sissis (AUS) +0.896
8. Xavier Pinsach (ESP) +0.909
9. Kyle Ryde (GBR) +1.040
10. Hafiq Azmi (MAS) +1.444
Source: Red Bull Rookies Cup