Livio Loi won Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Race 2 of the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic, lapping Brno over a second quicker than anyone else in the field. The 15 year old Belgian won by almost 6 seconds and it would have been more had the race not been red flagged with 10 of the 14 laps complete. Heading the fierce pack behind, American 15 year old Joe Roberts took 2nd just ahead of Italian 13 year old Stefano Manzi.
It was a dramatic event from the beginning, Cup leader Florian Alt did not get a great start from the middle of the front row and it was the 14 year old Spaniards Jorge Martin and Marcos Ramirez who had qualified 3rd and 4th who got the jump.
Saturday's winner Karel Hanika, the 16 year old Czech, crashed out on the 1st lap when he got onto the astroturf edging the track in the stadium section, it was wet from rain early in the day and offered no grip. He crashed hard but got up and remounted to finish 16th.
From there it was the usual intense Rookies Cup battle, very different to Saturday's race where Loi and Alt had opened up an early advantage. This time it was 3 or 4 abreast for much of the lap and no one could get clear. Loi was in the midst of it but looking very cool while those around him thrashed it out.
Alt hit the front but could not get away from the pack, as far as Cup points are concerned a crucial fact was that Philipp Oettl did not make the start. The 16 year old German, 3rd in the points coming into the weekend, finished Race 1 exhausted and was running a high temperature through into Sunday, he was advised not to race.
Scott Deroue, 2nd in the points chase, had only finished 9th in Race 1 but was optimistic of better after raising the rear of the bike in the hope that it would stop the bike running wide, his major problem from Saturday. It seemed to be working as he was right in the midst of the lead pack but on lap 9 he crashed out in spectacular style and looked fortunate to walk away unscathed.
So Alt was gifted a further points advantage as long as he crossed the finish line. He did not know that Deroue had fallen behind him so he pressed on. Loi had taken the lead on lap 6 and did so at such a pace that no one had any kind of response. He romped away in a most un-Rookies Cup like fashion.
“I didn't make a great start,” explained Loi who set off from 6th on the grid. “I felt good though, I was confident from yesterday and I just had to work my way up to the front. I knew I could go faster than the pack. I got in front and just kept pushing, it didn't seem too hard and I wanted to make sure it didn't happen like yesterday. It's brilliant to win, I'm so happy.”
The race was red flagged when Jorge Martin and Willi Albert crashed as Albert needed attention at the track side. Roberts had been 2nd across the line on the previous lap and took that place on the podium. “I think that was the most intense race I've ever been in,” he said. “We were rubbing elbows everywhere, it was incredible, so much fun. This year has been tough but we've been working at getting the bike sorted and that paid off today,” concluded the lap record holder who's time was not quite matched by Loi.
Manzi was equally thrilled with his 3rd. “It was a great race, absolutely fantastic. I got a good start and was 7th into the 1st corner, I was in the pack and fighting with everyone else, we were having a great time and I am so happy to be on the podium again,” said the tiny Italian who was 2nd in Race 2 at the Sachsenring.
Jorge Martin broke his left collarbone and bones in his right hand in the crash that brought out the red flag. Willi Albert was concussed in the same incident and complained of pain in his right shoulder so has been taken to hospital for further checks.
Simon Danilo, the 15 year old Frenchman who crashed on the last lap of Saturday's race was air lifted to the Brno Hospital where he underwent an operation that evening to stabilise vertebra 8 and 9. He had broken his leg and arm and these were also operated on. He has neurological injuries and the prognosis is not immediately clear. The thoughts of everyone in the Rookies Cup, his friends, fellow racers and fans are with him.