Red Bull Rookies: Hanika qualifies fastest in Austin

 In News, Red Bull Rookies


The first ever motorcycle pole position at the Circuit of the Americas has gone to Karel Hanika as the 17-year-old Czech qualified fastest for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup races ahead of 16-year-old Manuel Pagliani and 15-year-old Enea Bastianini. The two Italians finished just over a second slower than Hanika but are showing great form in their first Cup season as they line up for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas.

“I am very happy with that,” said Hanika. “I am starting this year where I finished last season. The bike is very good; firstly I had suspension problems but the guys from WP and Rookies Cup sorted it out for me and now it is great.”

“It is a new track for everyone and Hanika had an early disagreement with it. “Firstly I didn’t like it… mainly because I crashed in the free practice but actually I like it,” he said with a grin. “It gets better and better as it gets used more and the surface improves. The speciality of this track seems to be the sharp corners and you have to sort them out. Some are very wide going in, very different to Europe, we have to learn all sorts of corners and it makes it very interesting.”

Italians chasing

Pagliani headed the table early in the first session before Hanika took over and neither went faster in the second qualifying session as tyre wear took its toll. The Italian was not completely happy. “Not perfect, I struggled all day with the bike a little, we improved but in the end the front chattering was still a real problem. I know the WP engineer will help again and we will talk about what to do for the race. It is fantastic track though and I really like it so I am confident that I can a good race tomorrow.”

Bastianini did improve, finding almost a second in fact. “I’m very happy with that of course, in the second qualifying the bike set-up was really good and I enjoyed it. I love the track, so much fun. Towards the end of qualifying the rear tyre was very worn and I was sliding around a lot. Of course it is the same for everyone but it is something to think about for the race.”

Ray knows what is needed

He pushed back Brad Ray to 4th but the 15-year-old Briton knows what needs to be done. “We need to make some changes for the race, hopefully we can get rid of the front chatter, it is worse through turns 6 and 7, the long sweeper and then the 2nd-to-last left before the start and finish. If we could get that sorted out it would make a big difference. It’s a lot of fun, a real rider’s circuit and it is not easy to learn. You keep braking too early for the corners, I am still learning it and I am sure everyone is, it will be an interesting two races this weekend.

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