American Rocco Landers says his results during the first two weekends of Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup racing exceeded his expectations
“I did better than I expected to do. I expected to be last,” 15-year-old Landers told Roadracingworld.com in the paddock at Ridge Motorsports Park.
During the first two races, August 15-16 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, Landers finished 16th in Race One and 23rd in Race Two in a field of 25 riders.
During the second doubleheader August 22-23 at the same track, Landers suffered a mechanical DNF in Race One and got 17th in Race Two.
“My goals were in the first race was to not get last (and) in the second race to get in the top 20,” said Landers. “My goal in the third race was to get top 15. I had pace to get top 15, but I had a mechanical DNF. Then in the fourth race I got 17th, after I did a long-lap penalty.”
It’s not that Landers, the defending MotoAmerica Junior Cup Champion, doubted his abilities, but he was keenly aware of the uphill battle he faced at the event.
For starters, Landers was unable to attend the two-day Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup test held at Red Bull Ring two weeks before the first races, putting him at a disadvantage in track knowledge to the other Rookies, especially riders returning to the series for a second or third season.
This left Landers with 20 minutes of practice and two 20-minute qualifying sessions on Friday to learn his KTM RC250 R and the track before lining up to race on Saturday and Sunday.
“I’d like to see them come over and get on a Kawasaki 400 and ride Ridge Motorsports Park for three sessions and then race. I think things might be different then,” said Landers.
Then there’s Landers’ size, which isn’t extreme at 5-foot-9 and 145 pounds, but he is the largest rider in the field in height and weight and as much as 28 pounds heavier than the lightest riders.
“I’m four pounds heavier than the second-heaviest rider and one-inch taller than the next tallest guy, but he’s like freakishly skinny. You can see the ribs in his chest,” said Landers.
In spite of all this, Landers says he’s excited to go back to Europe for the next Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup round, October 16-18 at Motorland Aragon, because he has ridden at that track before.