Australian Billy van Eerde kicked off his 2020 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup campaign over the weekend with Round 1 held alongside the Grand Prix von Österreich, in Spielberg, as riders took to the track for the first time in anger.
Friday’s qualifying saw less than 1.5 seconds separate the top 20 riders, with van Eerde qualifying 20th, 1.289s off leading pace, with Daniel Munoz claiming top honours, ahead of Alex Escrig and Pedro Acosta.
Saturday saw the first race of the season commence, with Pedro Acosta moving into contention from third on the grid, to fight to keep his KTM RC 250 R on track ahead of countrymen David Muñoz and Daniel Holgado, with the top 15 all in with a chance in the early stages of the race.
As the 17 lap race came to a close, Acosta had managed to take the lead on numerous occasions but could never get clear away, with it all coming down to the final two corners of the Red Bull Ring. Last year’s Race 1 winner Acosta knew what he had to do, managing the last lap perfectly with a ten-man lead battle becoming just three with a chance of victory.
Acosta held the tiniest advantage over Muñoz, with Holgado hoping they would make a mistake. It almost happened but at the last corner Acosta wrestled his bike off the green and stayed in front of Muñoz for the win. Daniel Holgado completed the top three, while David Alonso and David Salvador were fourth and fifth.
Billy van Eerde improved on his qualifying result to bring home fifteen, earning a valuable championship point, and finishing 8.844 seconds off the race winner. The race saw him battling Collin Veijer for fourteenth with just 0.08s separating them at the finish line.
“It was an incredible race, I was so thrilled to feel how much better the bike was than in Qualifying, the guys did a brilliant job. I must say I was worried before the race when we couldn’t get the bike started, that was tense but my mechanic got it going and it was fantastic. I enjoyed the race so much, a great pleasure after the frustrations of yesterday.”
Sunday’s Race 2 proved similar to the opening race of the season as Acosta, Munoz, Holgado and Alonso fought it out for the top positions. Billy van Eerde was well in the mix as well, this time just 1.724s off leading pace, in the secondary group just off the top five.
It was a huge lead group for much of the race, just three-seconds covering the top 16 even into the second half of the 17 laps. No one came close to breaking away, while Acosta ran in the top handful the entire time and put in the perfect last lap.
The all-Spanish podium was repeated and 16-year-old Acosta drew on his season of Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup experience to hold the narrowest advantage over five newbies finishing behind him.
Alcosta took the win from David Munoz, with Holgado completing the podium, while Alonso and Daniel Munoz were fourth and fifth. Ivan Ortolo was just 0.112 ahead of Billy Van Eerde to the line, while Zonta Van Den Goorb and Matteo Bertelle were all in the battle for sixth through ninth.
Van Eerde finished seventh to claim nine championship points, for 10-total for the weekend, leaving him places 12th in the standings on equal points to Ivan Ortola. Just five-points separate fifth from 12th.
Billy Van Eerde
“This weekend was not what I expected it to be. In the qualifying on the Friday it was a disaster for me and I ended up way down towards the back of the grid.
“Race 1 I got an Ok start but nearly crashed in turn 1 which put me around last position. Was coming back through and got to P11 just off the front group when unfortunately I got a long lap penalty which wrecked my race and I ended up P15.
“Race 2 I got a good start and made up about 9 positions in 2 laps. Hovered around mid pack and then with 2 laps to go when I was pushing towards the front I went off track on the back straight which ruined my chances to battle for the top 5. Ended up P7.
“Anyway the bike was good and I felt good in the race so luckily we have another round here at the same track this weekend which should be a lot better.”
Pedro Acosta holds the current championship lead on 50-points, from David Munoz (40), Daniel Holgado (32), David Alonso (26) and Zonta Van Den Goorb (15).
“I said to myself as I took the lead that I had to make the perfect lap under control. But you know in this level of racing nothing is completely under control. I had to push it to the maximum, push it 100% and I did that. It is a great feeling to do the double here especially as the level of the Cup is so high this year.”
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