Two record-breaking days of testing in perfect conditions at Portimão have prepared 26 of the world’s fastest teenagers for the 17th season of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup.
Aerodynamic updates on the KTM RC 250 Rs, taking details pioneered in the KTM MotoGP program and developed for the Moto3 World Championship bikes, perhaps helped the fastest of the Rookies break the lap record.
Màximo Quiles was 3rd in last year’s Cup and the highest-placed rider to return. “It’s great to be back on the KTM, I really enjoy it. You can feel that the bike is a little stronger than last year, the way it pulls over the hills here and wheelies out of the corners. I took it easy at the start yesterday, got used to the bike again and pushed a bit harder today with new tyres. There are a lot of fast riders, it’s always the same in Rookies Cup.”
It was not just the returning gladiators who were on the pace, scotching any notion that there is any predictability about who will be battling for this year’s Cup. That will be decided over 14 races, starting at the Portuguese Grand Prix on March 25th.
“I must be getting old,” laughed rider coach Gustl Auinger. “I am just so impressed with these guys. It was wonderful to have a Selection Event again last year after we missed a couple of years. I was hopeful that we had seen some fast riders but I was sure it would take a few races before they got up to speed. “In the first session yesterday you could pick out the newcomers but by the second session, they were right there, looking as strong and running as fast as the second and third-year Rookies. Then at the end of the day, they are kicking a soccer ball around together and you know we’ve got another cool group of kids.”
“I’m very pleased with the test,” stated rider coach Dani Ribalta. “Firstly I am impressed that we got here, the technical staff did an amazing job preparing all the bikes, completely overhauled, refreshed engines, new mapping with a stronger bottom-end and the riders can feel the improvement. Several are under the lap record and some of the new guys are already very fast. We have been a lot luckier than we were last year with the dry weather and lack of wind. It gives us a great start to the season.”
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