Joan Mir showed perfect skill and timing to take Race 2 at Jerez and so leaves Spain with the points lead in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The 16-year-old Spaniard had been part of another superb, five way, race long battle for the lead and this time got the better of an almost equally smooth Manuel Pagliani by passing the 17-year-old Italian decisively on the last lap.
Third man home was another Spanish hero, 16-year-old Jorge Martín, who claimed his second podium of the weekend ahead of Stefan Manzi, the 15-year-old Italian who missed out again after claiming fifth yesterday.
Binder the challenger
This time the non-mediterranean in the lead battle was 16-year-old South African Darryn Binder who caught the leading quartet with a superb effort, more than matched his lap record pace from Saturday but was ultimately unlucky. He had led, was pushed back to second by Pagliani and then had a slight coming together with a marginally out of control Martín on the brakes into turn 1.
Binder explained the damage. “The brake lever was bent up, I had to let go of the throttle to push it back down and by then the others had gone. I tried hard to catch up with them again but couldn't do it a second time.” Pagliani was setting a great pace out front with Mir, Martín and Manzi also trying to get back on terms.
Pagliani leading from the front
“I just tried to lead and set the fastest pace possible,” explained Pagliani. The bike was working well and I didn't want to get caught up in a messy battle over the last few laps. I gave it everything, pushing, pushing, concentrating. When Mir came past on the last lap I had nothing left, I was exhausted.”
Mir putting it all on the line
It was only Mir who could make up the ground and he did so leaving Martín and Manzi in his wake as he claimed the lap record on the penultimate circuit. Mir explained what had made the difference after his fourth place on Saturday. “We changed the rear suspension a little from yesterday because the bike was sliding around too much. We went softer and that helped today for sure, it was still sliding but I had a better feeling and could manage it.”
He admitted that the last lap was on the limit. “No I didn't have a plan, I just went for it, full gass and grrrrrrrr,” he exclaimed, bearing his teeth in an expression of the aggression and determination he had put into the final circuit and then collapsing into a broad grin of pleasure over the result. He was 9th in the Cup last season with a second place at Silverstone and an impressive improvement through the year that is obviously continuing.
No excuses from Martín
Martín, winner of Race 1 last year in Jerez and second yesterday, put a brave face on his comment after taking third. “It was another great race, we were all going fast, it was a very hot pace and a great race. I just couldn't stay with Pagliani and Mir at the end but two podiums is not too bad. Mugello is another race and I will improve there.”
While Mir had changed the bike overnight Martín had not. “The bike was good, no need to change anything, they were just two very hard and fast races.” On the other hand Manzi had made changes as he explained. “Yesterday the front was too soft and it was collapsing on the brakes so we swapped to a harder spring and it was much better today.”
“It was another very fast race and I got in front which I couldn't manage yesterday,” continued Manzi. “The trouble was that I ran off onto the green plastic twice towards the end, two little mistakes but I couldn't catch back up. I now have too look forward to my home race in Mugello, I really want to win there.” he concluded, obviously hoping for his first Cup victory in season three after four second places last year.
Good effort from the new kids
The sensation of Friday and Saturday, at least for a couple of laps, was 14-year-old Spaniard Oscar Gutierrez who had qualified second and then shot into the lead before sliding off. “I knew that I needed points from the second race, I was not going to do anything silly, the pace was very fast and I soon realised that I could not run with Martín and Pagliani and it was better not to try,” he explained after finishing seventh behind Bo Bendsneyder, making the 15-year-old Netherlander the best of the first year Rookies.
Saturday's winner Mihara was 9th and at a loss to explain why. A sorry shake of the head was all he could offer. He has the chance to answer in Race 3 of the season at Mugello on May 31st.