Mihara wins wet Assen 1 thriller
Soushi Mihara scored his second Rookies Cup victory with a masterful display of wet weather riding to take Race 1 at the Dutch TT at Assen. After what was a thrilling and incident strewn race the 14-year-old Japanese finally had an almost ten second advantage over Cup points leader Jorge Martín, the 16-year-old Spaniard, at the flag with 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray further back in third.
Mihara was not one of the pre race favourites, coming off the third row of the grid after qualifying seventh, but he was soon in the frame as he picked off riders at every corner on lap one to chase Stefano Manzi across the line at the end of the first of fourteen laps. When the 15-year-old Italian crashed out exiting the Strubben early in lap two Mihara had the lead.
Simpson and Pagliani chasing
It was a healthy advantage at the end of that lap as 16-year-old Australian Olly Simpson and 17-year-old Italian Manuel Pagliani tucked into second. It was an advantage that varied with every corner, it grew as large as almost three second but was often down to much less than two as the three leaders tested the limits of grip on various lines going quicker and quicker in the very tricky conditions.
With nine laps to go Pagliani pushed even harder and got the gap down to a second, Simpson tried to go with him but crashed. “I just got into the corner a bit hard, over some ripples on the brakes and the front tyre came off the ground and washed out, that was it,” explained the South Australian.
Pagliani continued to close on Mihara and as soon as he got onto his tail, swept past as they started lap 10. It had all the makings of a great battle as Mihara responded immediately by going with him. They were both pushing the limit and once Mihara ran wide as he almost lost the front but three corners later was right on Pagliani's tail again.
Lap 12 saw Mihara back in front and he really charged, Pagliani responded but made a small error that cost him time then crashed on the penultimate lap trying to make it up. “I was really determined to push at the end, I knew I was going to have to ride very hard to get away, I just pushed and pushed. Then on the last lap I looked behind and couldn't believe it, there was no-one there,” he added with a slight grin and a twinkle in his eye. “I went into the race with the goal of winning it and now that has moved me from third to second in the points table.”
Points advantage to Martin
Even though only 4 of the 14 races have been run the riders are obviously think of the Cup positions. “That was a great result for me,” confirmed Martín. “I was pushing as hard as I could and was catching Pagliani and Simpson to try and get on the podium but I didn't want to take too many chances. When they both crashed I just took it very easy as I was very happy with the points for second. I hope Race 2 is dry though, last night we found the problem I was having in qualifying with the front and the bike should be good for a dry race, it is more fun and less dangerous.”
Third man home Ray is also hoping for a dry Race 2. “I was just too cautious on the opening lap, they were all coming past me. Then I got going, felt more confident and started to pass people. OK I was lucky in the end that a couple of guys in front fell off and I got on the podium but that's racing. A wet race tomorrow would be OK but it is a lot more fun in the dry when you can be more aggressive.”
Home hero comeback
It was a very similar experience for pole man Bo Bendsneyder, the 15-year-old Netherlander. “The first corner was a disaster, I just couldn't feel the front and went backwards, it was a while before I got confident in the front but when I did I started pushing and just went faster and faster. I could see Joan Mir and Brad Ray ahead and I knew that was the battle for the podium. I managed to get Joan on the last lap but just couldn't get Brad coming out of the last corner,” he concluded after claiming the fast lap of the race on the final tour.
Race 2 can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world on Saturday at 15.30, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.