Jorge Martín made Mugello his own with an imperious display as he won Race 3 in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup 2014. The 16-year-old Spaniard was in a class of his own as Italians Manuel Pagliani and Stefano Manzi fought to the line for second and 17-year-old Pagliani got the verdict by 4 thousandths of a second over his 15-year-old compatriot.
After mixed conditions through the three sessions on Friday, race day was perfect, sunny racing weather and from the outside of the front row of the grid 16-year-old Australian Olly Simpson got the holeshot. From pole Martín was straight onto his tail and into the lead up the inside on the brakes into the first corner. “I knew that some of my strongest competitors were back on grid,” said Martín. “I had to go for it right from the start, I needed to get a good lead before they got into second.”
Martín kept pushing
Martín did exactly that and had a two second advantage over the pack at the end of the first of 15 laps. “I just kept pushing,” continued Martín. “It wasn't easy because the bike setting wasn't perfect, we only had the first free practice in the dry and I spent the time learning the track and only thought of some setting changes for the second session but by then it was wet and we didn't get to try it. In the race I had some front juddering going into the corners and almost crashed a couple of times. I was running wide everywhere and the juddering only stopped when I got the power on, I was really fighting it.”
The leader was hiding his problems well and the gap kept getting bigger even as Manzi and Pagliani worked their way through from 7th and 8th on the grid. They entered into a fabulous six-man battle for second with Simpson, 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray who had qualified second and Toprak Razgatlioglu and Joan Mir who came off the second row.
Tough work behind
Razgatlioglu, the 17-year-old Turk and biggest guy in the field, fought back from a distant seventh to briefly snatch second but it was hard for him and he could not keep doing that. The second place group split up as 16-year-old Mir was put out with an engine problem then Ray had the gear lever come adrift.
Ray's retirement was bad news for Simpson as the pair had been closing back in on Pagliani and Manzi after the Italians opened up a small advantage. With his slipstreaming mate gone Simpson had to settle for fourth, well clear of Razgatlioglu.
There was nothing separating Pagliani and Manzi and at times they did take chunks out of Martín's lead, a clue the he was not having an easy time out front but with 6 seconds in hand he had no need to panic and he kept his head and could re-establish his advantage almost at will. “Jorge was just too fast today,” admitted Pagliani.
Especially tough for Pagliani
“Jorge rode a great race and I was struggling with my shoulder, the broken collarbone from two weeks ago,” explained Pagliani. “I didn't have an operation and it was really hard for the last five laps, a lot of pain and changing directions was really tough, here everything is changing direction. In the last lap I just pushed as hard as I could to try and open a gap over Stefano, It was not enough and at the line he was right beside me, in the end I was lucky to hang on to second.”
“I did have a plan for that last lap,” admitted Manzi. “I wanted to be behind him and beat him out of the slipstream to the line, I thought I had done it but no. Still it was a great race, Jorge was too far in front but some more good points and I hope in Assen I can still go a bit better.”
A small consolation for Manzi was setting a new lap record on that thrilling final lap.
Rookies Cup races four and five are part of the Dutch TT at Assen on June 27 and 28.