Red Bull Rookies, Brno: Qualifying
With his final qualifying lap, local hero, 17-year-old Karel Hanika, stole pole position from 16-year-old Turk Toprak Razgatlıoğlu for Saturday’s Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race in Brno. Completing the front row of the grid for the Czech Grand Prix is 15-year-old Italian Enea Bastianini.
A change of schedule for the rest of the season gives the riders two free practice sessions and a single qualifying session to take the pressure off newcomers who have to learn the circuits. From the start of the 25 minute qualifying period Hanika was determined, his first flying lap was over half a second quicker than the lap record and 1.2 seconds quicker than anyone else.
“I was enjoying it,” said Hanika. “I was in a big group and I then realised that the front suspension was not quite perfect so I came into the pits to make a change. I went out again and tried to improve but it still wasn’t right and I was making some mistakes so came in again.”
By then Razgatlıoğlu had taken the initiative and was looking very impressive as he reeled off the quick laps at the top of the leader board. With just a few minutes remaining Hanika came out of the pits. His first flying lap was a string of red helmets on the timing monitors but as he flashed across the line it showed he had missed pole by 0.001.
“When I came out for the last time the bike felt good and I went for a good time. I just made a small mistake in the final section but then the last lap was good, no mistakes. The bike is really working well now and I am looking forward to a good race, Toprak did a great job and I am sure it will be a close race with him and the other guys.”
Razgatlıoğlu was not too upset to have lost pole. “The main thing is that the bike is working well, I am really enjoying it. It is the first time since Austin at the beginning of the year that the bike is really right for me, we seemed to lose our way with the settings after that. This is a great track, I have raced here once on a 600 and lapped at 2m 09s so I knew my way round.”
Though Bastianini was 3rd, the Brno first timer feels there is still room for improvement. “The front isn’t quite right so that is limiting me at the moment. It is a great track though, so wide and it is not easy to learn. I am enjoying it very much, cutting the kerbs on the inside to get the fastest lines,” he said with his usual grin.
Bastianini’s feelings on bike setting were echoed by fourth placed Jorge Martín, the 15-year-old Spaniard who lies second in the title chase behind Hanika and shared the victory honours with him in the previous round at the Sachsenring. “It just makes it tough, the front isn’t right this weekend and I can’t ride the way I want to. I pushed very hard at the end to get a good time, 4th is not bad but I can’t say I’m happy with the bike.”
Source: Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Team