Rookies Cup | Alt claims thrilling season opener
Florian Alt won a 5 man battle for victory at the final corner to claim the first race in the 2012 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The 15 year old German stole the advantage from Pole man Marcos Ramirez and fellow 14 year old Spaniard Diego Perez to stand on top of the podium in Jerez and open the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.
It was a fantastic fight from first corner to last and no criticism of Kyle Ryde the 14 year old Briton and 15 year old Portuguese Ivo Lopes who crossed the line 4th and 5th but had led the race and could so easily have been on the podium.
Alt won the last race of 2011 and started his 3rd season of Rookies Cup brilliantly even though he came off the the 3rd row of the grid after qualifying 8th. “It wasn't a great start, I struggled a bit in the opening laps being in a big group and I knew I would have to get going before the leaders opened a gap,” said Alt.
“From then it was a great battle, a lot of fun and though I was passed on the last lap I knew what I had to do at the last corner and it worked out. The bike was good after we raised the rear suspension following practice but it wasn't perfect. I think will change it a little more before tomorrow's race because I am aiming to do the same again.”
Ramirez had made a great start from pole but then it seemed to go wrong. “I had a great start but then there were so many riders with us at the front that I kept getting bumped off line and I lost the front runners. Then I really had to calm down and work hard to get back with them,” explained Ramirez who was 2.5 seconds adrift of the lead group with 5 laps to go.
He closed the gap and caught them with a lap and a half remaining. Cutting through the lead group and into the lead half way round the final lap he charged to the line with the other 4 all on his tail. As it so often does at Jerez it all came down to the last 180 degree left hander. “I got into the corner OK but just couldn't find the drive coming out and that was it. Still the 2nd race is tomorrow. We changed the bike a little after practice but it still wasn't right, the rear was wallowing and sliding through the fast rights so I hope we can get it working better tomorrow.”
Perez had no such complaints. “I was happy with the bike and the race was a lot of fun, I think it just depended how things worked out at the last corner. Tomorrow I will be aiming for the podium again,” said the 3rd place man.
Ryde was philosophical about 4th. “It was a good race, I could have tried something desperate at the last corner but this is the first race and it's a long season.” As for changes to the bike for race 2? “More speed!', said the British 125 championship with a grin. Lopes said that 5th was his mistake. “I thought there was still another lap to go,” he admitted with a shrug.
There were 2 race leaders who didn't make it to the flag. Karel Hanika, the 16 year old Czech crashed out of the lead on lap 2 when he hit a damp patch after seeing it too late. “I saw it, I thought, 'this isn't going to be good.'” Fortunately he was unhurt as was 14 year old Briton Bradley Ray who did much of the lead running until the front slid away through the fast rights leading back to the start on lap 11 of 16. “I'd just got the lead from Lopes and I thought I'd try and gap him, I guess I pushed it too hard.”
Last year's Cup champion Lorenzo Baldassarri was not too disappointed with 8th after starting 11th on the grid. “I am now feeling better on the bike so that is really positive. We were battling in a big group and as always happens in Rookies Cup the guys brake very late, get in front, but are then very slow through the corners so that messed things up for me. I was I a good position going into the last corner but did not have the drive coming out,” admitted the now tall 15 year old Italian.
Philipp Oettl, winner of the opening race last year and winner of the opening round of this year's Spanish Moto3 championship is, like Baldassarri, finding switching back to the 2-stroke 125 KTM not easy. “I think we made progress,” explained the 15 year old German after finishing 6th. “I know more what I need from the bike every time, we changed it after practice but it wasn't right for the race so we will change it again for tomorrow. The Championship is not won or lost at the first race.”
Race 2 at Jerez is on Sunday at 15.30 CET and can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on television stations around the world and you can watch the races again on demand at the following links: -