Sep 28, 2012
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Karel Hanika (98). Photo by GEPA Pictures, courtesy of Red Bull
Karel Hanika snatched pole position with a devastating final lap of a very wet qualifying at Aragon. The 16 year old Czech obliterated the time set by 14 year old Spaniard Marcos Ramirez who had only a few minutes earlier bettered the time set by Japanese 16 year old Yui Watanabe who had topped the leader-board for much of the afternoon.
With the morning's free practice session being cancelled because of delays in other classes that disrupted the schedule, the first afternoon qualifying session was changed to free practice status leaving the second session as the lone qualifier. Both were lengthened from 30 to 40 minutes and both were very wet.
"The guys did a fantastic job with the bike," said Hanika. "Both Rob, the WP engineer, and my mechanic did great work, they changed the gearing and both front and rear suspension and gave me a great bike," concluded Misano's winner.
Hanika had come in for a final stop with just 5 minutes remaining while on a quick lap but down in 5th on the timing screen. With a small change to the rear suspension he went out, got up to speed and put in that great time. "I had 3 rear slides on that final lap, I think the tyre is past its best. I am enjoying the track here, it's great but I hope it stays wet for the race because I have no idea what it is like in the dry."
The weather forecast for Saturday is not good, a little brighter for Sunday. Ramirez stands 2nd on the grid and would be happy with a dry race. "I have ridden here before and it is a great track in the dry, the last corner is fast and a lot of fun, there is a another set of corners with a great change of direction, so much fun. I was not so happy early in practice in the wet, I just took my time and step by step went quicker so now I have a good feeling for the bike in the wet and I'm happy with things."
Of course Watanabe was happy to be fast all through the 2 sessions even if she did slide off in qualifying after setting the fastest time. She was on her way to an even quicker lap when she tried too hard. "I lost the front going into the corner, just too fast," she explained. "I like riding in the wet though, I enjoyed Misano practice in the wet and I am having fun here too. It is a great track and I hope the conditions are the same for the race. That went wrong in Misano, it changed and it took me too long to get used to it."
Livio Loi, the 15 year old Belgian who stared in Brno and Misano qualified 8th and was not too upset by that. "It took me a while to get comfortable and I did not push it, close to the end I was 6th but 2 guys went quicker right at the end.
Just behind him on the list is Florian Alt, the 16 year old German who already has one hand on the Rookies Cup. "That's OK, it took me a while to feel comfortable on the bike here. I didn't push it and I didn't change anything, I knew that it had to come from me. By the end I was going quicker and quicker and I was just 4 seconds too late getting across the line for one more lap, I think that could have moved me up a bit."
For the crucial races this weekend Alt has a firm idea of what he must do. "I have to take it a bit cautiously in the first race and try and finish ahead of Scotty, (Deroue). If I can win the Cup on Saturday I will really go for the race win on Sunday. Alt has a 29 point advantage over 16 year old Dutchman Deroue and is 49 ahead of fellow German Oettl going into the final 2 races with 50 points to be won.
Deroue only qualified 18th with 16 year old German Philipp Oettl 15th. "That's not good," admitted Deroue. "I didn't have a good feeling at all, nothing. I hope it is dry for the race."
Both Rookies Cup races in Aragon can be seen live on and on TV stations around the world. Race 1 is at 16.30 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.