2021 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup
Round 1 – Portimão, Portugal
Image by Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool
Diogo Moreira overcame windy conditions in Portimão to claim pole in his debut qualifying, as the 2021 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup season truly kicked into action for Round 1, alongside MotoGP.
Alex Milan and David Munoz completed the front row, 0.185 and 0.229s off Moreira’s pace respectively. Australian Harrison Voight qualified 10th, +1.149s off pole pace. New Zealands Cormac Buchanan was 24th.
16-year-old Brazil Moreira made a perfect getaway to lead as Race 1 kicked off and he was hounded into the first corner. Alonso grabbed the lead going onto lap 2 however, chased by 15-year-old Spaniard David Muñoz.
Iván Ortolá and Àlex Millan completed the lead group of six with Uriarte working hard to catch them after a poor start. Alonso made the convincing break at half distance and the pack slowed each other with desperate infighting all the way to the finish.
David Alonso eventually took a clear win, four-seconds ahead of the chasing group, which was led by Diogo Moreira, with Marcoa Uriarte third. Daniel Holgado was also in the podium battle, as well as David Munoz, Ivan Ortola and Alex Milan, with less than 0.5-seconds separating second through seventh.
“An incredible win because before the race I tried to make this plan to escape from the group and run alone all race and finally I could do it. I think I rode well and I also had a lot of fun. At the beginning we had some fights, I did well in the fight so tomorrow if we have to fight again we are strong. I made a good start and tried to take first as soon as possible, I couldn’t get away so I had to try again and then I could make it. The bike was very good, only for tomorrow, depending on the wind we might change the gearing but the setting of the bike is perfect I really liked it. Today there was a lot of wind but I ran near the wall on the straight where there was less wind.”
It was a rough start to the weekend for Voight who finished 19th, while New Zealand’s Buchanan was 22nd.
David Alonso was the rider to beat after a massive nine man Rookies Cup battle for the win in Race 2. Alonso did most of the leading after taking over from pole man Diogo Moreira after the 16-year-old Brazilian again made a great start and headed the KTM RC 250 R horde on lap one.
Unlike Race 1, Alonso could not break away but looked cool in front while the pack on his heels fought it out with typical Rookie intensity.
15-year-old Daniel Holgado led out of the last corner but the Colombian was perfectly positioned and stole the win out of the slipstream with Spaniard Àlex Millan on their tail in third.
“It was in incredible, I made a very good race. It was different from yesterday because yesterday I won alone and today I won in a fight to the line. That is very positive for me, to win in these two ways. I made a good start, even better than yesterday. Then the same strategy, I tried to make my pace and go alone but the other riders improved, they were stronger than yesterday and I couldn’t get away. I was still pushing the group because I felt strong and I waited for the last laps. Then in the last five laps I tried to push a little bit more but it was impossible so I maintained there. In the last two laps I tried to be in a good position for the last lap. I could do it because on the last lap I was second and that was perfect. I tried to hold second through the lap and at the last corner I prepared and I passed Holgado. I am super super happy because I learned from last year how to manage the last laps, where to overtake and I felt strong with the bike also, it is an amazing feeling. Now we have to keep working hard in Jerez.”
David Muñoz just missed the podium in fourth ahead of Matteo Bertelle and Ivan Ortolá. Marcos Uriarte was challenging for the podium, slid off on the last lap but remounted to take ninth.
Race 2 saw Australia’s Harrison Voight improve to 13th despite getting long lap penalty warning, which he thought must have been for exceeding track limits and saw him do the long lap as a result.
“What a positive way to finish the final race here in Portimão. I tagged onto the second group that were battling for 9th although I got a long lap penalty warning and I thought I’ve over done the track limits so I did the long lap. Besides the silly mistake, it was a great race and I’m happy with the improvement that was made from yesterday to today. Special thank you to my family that are watching at home while I’m over here in Europe chasing my goal, Shane Stratton for being my helper and Stephanie Redman for everything she’s done to help me. Next stop is with the SIC58 Squadra Corse to start round one at Estoril.”
New Zealand’s Cormac Buchanan was happy to claim 20th as well as a PB lap time of 1.54.3.
“That’s a wrap for the adrenalin-pumping Portimao and round one of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The forward trajectory continues in the right direction and I’m stoked to secure P20. Some intense tussles out there, particularly with Northern Talent Cup champion Görbe Soma. Congrats to David Alonso, Daniel Holgado and Alex Millan on their podium finishes. The race wasn’t without drama for me with a massive moment where my leg suddenly appeared where my arms should be! Clocked up a PB lap time of 1.54.3 so I leave here smiling and satisfied with the process made as I continue to learn the dynamics of my new KTM RC250 R machine. I’m determined to make it friend, not foe! Thanks to dad Stacey Buchanan, my mechanic Aleix and the wider Rookies coaches and crew for an unforgettable debut in the MotoGP paddock. Tomorrow we head to Circuito de Jerez to reset and prepare to tackle another exciting new European circuit. The messages of support are fuelling my determination so thank you to everyone for backing me on this journey.”
David Alonso now holds the Red Bull Rookies Cup lead with 50-points after two wins, with Daniel Holgado second on 33-points and Diogo Moreira third on 28-points.
Alex Millan and David Munoz completed the top five, while Australian Harrison Voight was 14th overall. New Zealands Cormac Buchanan didn’t claim any championship points, but was positive after a 22-20 result.
Next stop is Jerez for Round 2, taking place May 1.
Earlier in the day ex Rookies Pedro Acosta and Raul Fernandez won the Moto3 and Moto2 GPs and Acosta is now the clear leader in the Moto3 World Championship after a 2nd and 2 wins from the first 3 races. Ex Rookies pack the first 5 places in the Moto3 points table.
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