Kristian Daniel Jr. Takes First Moto5 Win at Motorland Aragon
The 11-year-old American from Los Angeles, California, riding in the ultra-competitive Spanish “Cuna de Campeones” Championship used MotoGP racecraft to score his first victory.
The Spanish “Cuna de Campeones” racing series is the ultimate challenge for aspiring Spanish (and visiting) riders up to the age of twelve. Riding 25-horsepower single-cylinder 250cc IMR on the full 3.15-mile Motorland Aragón Grand Prix track where the Moto5 bikes were clocking top speeds of just over 100 mph. American Kristian Daniel Jr. (a.k.a KDJR) came into Motorland confident after scoring a first podium last time out, but with no knowledge of the fast and technical circuit.
In Friday qualifying KDJR swapped the quickest times with Carlos Cano in the first session, eventually taking second by two tenths on a cold and windy morning. Hopes of improving to start on pole were dashed when the afternoon session was cancelled due to heavy rain.
RACE 1: KDJR was quickest in the Saturday morning warm-up, but still a bit nervous when he took his place in the middle of the front row with the whole FIM CEV paddock watching. Cano, Miguel Rodriguez and KDJR broke away from the pack, pulling out a three-second gap by the end of lap one. Each had a turn at the front and no one had a clear advantage over the opening laps of lead changes and slipstreaming, but going into turn 14 with four laps to go, KDJR had a problem with the shifter which caused him to run wide into the gravel and crash. It was a frustrating end to his first race at Aragon because he felt he had the pace to win. Fortunately, he only needed to wait a day to have a second chance.
RACE 2: In the morning warm up the bike was running well. Topping the timing sheets by a full second restored confidence, but he knew he would be racing again with the same two rivals and that there were only two ways to win. The first was to break the slip stream and pull a gap, but if the race was a battle between the same three who initially led race one, it would all come down to being in the right place at the right time.
From the start it quickly became clear that he, Cano and Rodriguez were going to take the race into the final lap and the final corner. His plan was to make his move at the end of the long back straight, but on lap six of seven he lost a half second at the beginning of sector four and had to push hard to improve his first sector time by seven tenths to close back up on the leaders. As he closed on Cano and Rodriguez, he recalled the final lap of the recent Grand Prix of Styria when Portuguese star Miguel Oliveira set up for a pass on the inside line on the final curve and final lap expecting his two rivals to run wide. KDJR’s rivals both got in too hot and both crashed (without contact) as he ran under them to take his all-important first Cuna de Campeones win.
It was a big step forward for the kid from LA who now lives just outside of Barcelona with his parents and younger brother. This was compensation for being forced to miss the Portuguese round earlier in the year due to Covid-19 confinement rules. Nevertheless, the object of this Cuna de Campeones season for KDJR and his team was to prove himself competitive with the best young riders in Spain and, at Motorland Aragon, he did that.
1. Carlos Cano (2:26.292)
2. Kristian Daniel (2:26.435)
3. Miguel Rodríguez (2:26.604)
4. Martim Marco Ramos (2:28.805)
Results Race 1:
1. Miguel Rodríguez
2. Adrian Covarrubias
3. Martim Marco Ramos
4. Mark Perez
Results Race 2:
1. Kristian Daniel
2. Martim Marco Ramos
3. Adrian Covarrubias
4. David Gonzáles