Jun 16, 2008
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Into the 2nd half with back to back rounds in Donington and Assen, June 21st & 28th.
Two great venues, Donington and Assen open the second half of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season. With 5 races remaining there is nothing comfortable about the 13 point lead that Spaniard Luis Salom has over American JD Beach. The two 16 year olds will not just be fighting each other anyway as Sturla Fagerhaug, Daijiro Hiura, Mathew Scholtz, Nelson Major and others all have ideas about winning and putting themselves into the chase for the Cup.
16 year old Norwegian Fagerhaug stands out as the man who has so far failed to score the result that his clear ability and pre season testing times show he is capable of. Often it has been his bad start or slow opening laps that have proved a handicap and he knows very well that he must get over that.
Fastest starter at the last round in Mugello was Daijiro Hiura but the 13 year old Japanese lacks any track knowledge at Donington and Assen for, unlike Salom, Beach and Fagerhaug, he is a first year Rookie. The winner of the Estoril round is a fast learner though and had practice in Mugello not been wet he probably would have challenged Salom and Beach for the win there.
Scholtz and Major are also first year Rookies and while 15 year old Frenchman Major was third at his home round in Le Mans he will have to take a step forward if he is going to repeat that at Donington as he was not close to the same performance in Italy. South African 15 year old Scholtz is following Fagerhaug's example as he too has not matched his pre season promise. It is only a matter of time though and he clearly has what it takes.
Salom and Beach know very well that they are unlikely to have a private battle at either Donington or Assen but for Beach especially nothing less than a pair of wins will satisfy him as he needs an emphatic end to his run of 5 second places.
Salom is full of confidence having won 4 of the opening 5 and that will be even higher heading to Assen, scene of his first win 12 months ago. The Cup races are run on successive Saturdays, the day before the British Grand Prix at Donington and after the MotoGP race at Assen, which is traditionally a Saturday event.
With Deane Brown still out of action due to injury there are a number of guest riders for these two rounds. Ben McConnachie has his third outing and the 16 year old makes a bit of history racing at the British Grand Prix; his father Ian won the 80cc British GP at Silverstone in 1986. It was the same year that Rookies Rider Coach Gustl Auinger won the 125 event.
Miguel Oliveira, the 13 year old Portuguese who finished 8th riding as a wild card in his home race at Estoril will ride as a guest in both Donington and Assen. Joining him in Assen and racing for the rest of the year as a full time Rookie is Austrian Nico ThÃƒÂ¶ni. He missed the first half of the season as he only turns 13 on June 28th.