Deniz Öncü won his second Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the year at Motorland Aragón, as the venue proved the perfect location for the Turk to display his talent and racecraft as he flashed across the line just ahead of local hero Xavi Artigas.
A second perfectly judged victory from Deniz Öncü completed the twelfth season of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup after an incredible 15 rider battle. The 15-year-old Turk had to use every gram of his quickly accumulating skills to fend off Carlos Tatay, Ryusei Yamanaka and the rest.
Australian Billy Van Eerde was 14th in Race 1, while recording a DNF result in Race 2.
Czech 16-year-old Filip Salač had started the race tied on points with Deniz Öncü and seven ahead of 15-year-old Artigas as they all sat on the front row. Cruelly Salač was brought down when Meikon Kawakami crashed in front of him taking them both out of the intense lead battle that featured ten riders for much of the 15 laps.
It was another fabulous KTM RC 250 R contest with a whole string of different leaders including 15-year-old Spaniard Carlos Tatay who would eventually finish third. No one could get clean away until the last three laps. One of the few stars not in that lead battle was Cup winner Can Öncü who languished in tenth, where he qualified.
“It was a shame not to have him with me on the podium. But I am incredibly happy with the win. It was a very hard race, it was hot and I was thirsty. I was fighting at the front all the way but it was impossible to break away. I decided to play it cool until five or six laps to go and then pushed. Artigas was in front by a second or two and I went after him. We got away from the other riders and I passed him. Then I just concentrated on really making a perfect last lap so he couldn’t get me. It was a great race, the bike was fantastic and such a close battle, you can see the marks on my leathers.”
“I’m happy with that, yes I really am. Happy to be second at my home race and it was a great race. It was very hot, the bike was sliding a lot but I was able to battle. Then I had a strange problem with the front brake being unpredictable, it was good then not, then it was good again. That is where I lost the edge and couldn’t challenge Denis at the last few corners. Still there is another race tomorrow and another chance to win,” he concluded, now standing 12 points behind Deniz Öncü in the race for second in the Cup and 13 ahead of Salač with 25 on offer from Sunday’s final race.
Tatay was back on the podium where he started the season, with second and first in Jerez.
“Yes it’s great to be back, it was a super hard race, fighting all the way, swapping places every corner, so many riders. I kept cool and just pushed at the end. Xavi and Deniz had got way, there was nothing we could do about that but I wanted third. I knew I should not lead onto the back straight on the last lap and I put myself in the right position for the slipstream,” explained Tatay. “It was still hard at the end of the straight, I was waiting, waiting to brake, was in so deep but managed to turn and get through. Such a good feeling to be third and I hope for another great race tomorrow.”
Happy Colombian 18-year-old Steward Garcia was fourth.
“Wow that was an exciting race, fighting, fighting. So many guys together. I didn’t qualify well, just 13th but I pushed hard and got through to the front. Fourth is good, but I so want to be on the podium in my last Rookies race tomorrow. I will be on the podium tomorrow,” asserted the sweaty teen.”
Can Öncü already has the Cup title, but he didn’t think much of tenth.
“I got onto the back straight on the first lap in the position to pick up the slipstream but the bike just didn’t have it. I don’t know, the guys had swapped bikes for me in qualifying but it wasn’t working. Sure I am not feeling 100%, I’m a bit sick but that isn’t all of it. I hope everything can be better in Race 2. It was great to see my brother win and I want him to have another great race tomorrow.”
Red Bull Rookies Race 1
Deniz ÖNCÜ TUR 30’45.838
Xavier ARTIGAS SPA +0.548
Carlos TATAY SPA +4.736
Steward GARCIA COL +5.108
Adrian CARRASCO SPA +5.271
Yuki KUNII JPN +5.335
Dan JONES GBR +5.361
Ryusei YAMANAKA JPN +6.471
Sean KELLY USA +6.614
Can ÖNCÜ TUR +15.448
Barry BALTUS BEL +6.761
Max COOK GBR +15.493
Simon JESPERSENz +15.497
Billy VAN EERDE AUS +15.603
A single second covered the first seven at the line and there were at least that many leaders through the 15 laps in Race 2, with Deniz Oncu once again claiming victory, to make it two for two over the weekend, ending the weekend on a high, with second overall in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. It was a very happy young man who sang along with his national anthem on the podium.
“It was another great race and I am so happy to win it and have second in the Cup behind my brother. It was hot and we were fighting all the way. I tried to get away but it was crazy overtaking all the time. The Spanish tried to block me but I just thought; that’s OK I am Turkish I will win.”
Spanish 15-year-old Tatay was almost as pleased with second, having been third on Saturday.
“I was thinking, thinking about the last lap and where I had to be. I really worked at it from when I saw three laps to go on my board. I managed to put myself second coming down the back straight on the last lap and tried to slipstream past Deniz but couldn’t do it. It’s been a great season, I learnt so much, I already can’t wait for next year.”
For Yamanaka, the 16-year-old Japanese, third was less than perfect.
“I wanted to win, I did everything possible. It was a very hard race, everyone was pushing so hard in the last race, very hard riding, very hard overtaking. Then there was a crash going onto the back straight on the last lap and I just wasn’t in the right place to try and win.”
Yuki Kunii was a fine fourth, the 15-year-old Japanese backing up his sixth from Saturday.
“I got a good start from 15th and I worked hard. Mid race I was fourth or fifth but it was hard to get further forward. I could not overtake Deniz who was in front and someone else then passed me and I got pushed back to seventh or eighth so I had to work my way forward again. I tried to pass Yamanaka at the end but the tyre was sliding a lot and I couldn’t.”
Red Bull Rookies Race 2
Deniz ÖNCÜ TUR 30’47.814
Carlos TATAY SPA +0.249
Ryusei YAMANAKA JPN +0.784
Yuki KUNII JPN +0.853
Xavier ARTIGAS SPA +0.903
Steward GARCIA COL +1.049
Filip SALAC CZE +1.098
Can ÖNCÜ TUR +3.661
Sean KELLY USA +3.662
Peetu PAAVILAINEN FIN +3.696
…DNF. Billy VAN EERDE
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