Back to Mugello for another open contest
The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup returns to Mugello this coming weekend after a two year absence for Race 3 of the season. The hiatus means that non of the Rookies have campaigned their Cup KTMs at the classic venue, adding to the drama and uncertainty.
Mugello always seems to provide super close racing and unpredictability goes along with the Cup. With just six points separating the top four in the championship table after Jerez it is obvious that no one has so far demonstrated the slightest edge over the opposition.
Spain versus Italy
It is two 16-year-old Spaniards, Joan Mir and Jorge Martín, that head the table with 38 and 36 points respectively but the first of the Italians, 17-year-old Manuel Pagliani also has 36. Pagliani matched Martín's score of a second and a third in Jerez and might have been favourite to cap that with victory at home but for the fact that he crashed at an Italian championship round on May 16th and broke his right collarbone so is struggling to be fit.
Unfortunately he is not the only Rookie to have suffered injury at an event outside the Cup. The same weekend, Makar Yurchenko was involved in a nasty start line accident in the CEV round at Le Mans and is now recovering from two broken arms.
The rest of the world
Fourth in the points table is Japanese 14-year-old Soushi Mihara, winner of Race 1 in Spain. Thrilled as he was with that superb performance he was just as down and mystified when he could only manage ninth in Race 2.
With 4th and 1st in Jerez, Mir tops the table but a certain threat in Mugello will be Italian 15-year-old Stefano Manzi who was 5th and 4th after being in the lead pack on both days. He admitted that he just didn't push hard enough when it counted and is determined to do so at home this coming weekend. In his third Cup season he has yet to take a victory and he could chose no better place to do it.
Mihara was the shock of Race 1 in Spain and it was Darryn Binder who shook up the Spanish/Italian quartet at the front in Race 2. The 16-year-old South African is looking stronger than he did in his first year and after 6th in Jerez 1, led Race 2 before finishing 5th. He still needs to raise his game slightly to be a consistent threat but could well do just that and improve on his 6th in the title chase.
Behind Binder is the first of the debut season Rookies; 15-year-old Netherlander Bo Bendsneyder. He impressed with his smooth speed in Spain and that should make him a contender in Mugello. Toprak Razgatlioglu, the 17-year-old Turk and 17-year-old Briton Brad Ray are 8th and 9th in the points, both were close in Jerez but needed to find something extra. Razgatlioglu said he had to be more assertive and Ray find a better bike setting.
Matching Ray on 12 points are 13-year-old Spaniard Jaume Masiá and 16-year-old Australian Olly Simpson, they will be thinking of podium placing in Mugello but so are their competitors, there is only a singe race, on Saturday May 31st, so that dream will only become reality for three teenagers.
Saturday's race at Mugello can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world at 16.30 CET, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.