Images by Gold & Goose/Samo Vidic/Red Bull Content Pool
Australia’s Billy Van Eerde has taken a 2-3 result at the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Round 5 at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, with the two podium results boosting him to 11th in the standings, now on 47-points.
Pedro Acosta claimed the Race 1 win from Van Eerde and Noguchi, with standings leader Carlos Tatay way back in 14th. Race 2 saw Noguchi win, with Tatay back in the fight and on the podium in second, ahead of Van Eerde. Race 1 winner Acosta was back in fifth behind Huertas.
Spaniards were in control all the way through Free Practice and Qualifying with 15-year-old Alex Escrig finally grabbing pole ahead of 14-year-old Marcos Uriarte after the pair worked together at the end of Qualifying. Fellow countryman and Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup leader, 16-year-old Carlos Tatay was all on his own for third.
The Escrig/Uriarte plan also included another Spielberg first timer, 15-year-old Pedro Acosta but the 15-year-old Spaniard missed out and was only ninth fastest. Also missing out was Japanese 18-year-old Haruki Noguchi who topped the timing screen only to have that best lap cancelled because he exceeded track limits.
Tatay has already won five races and scored two second places this year. With rival Yuki Kunii missing the Austrian round after injuring his right hand again in his wild card GP debut in Brno last weekend the 16-year-old Spaniard could well clinch the Cup this weekend.
He could even do it on Saturday if Acosta, David Salvador and Jason Dupasquier do not score a few points. Most likely the Cup will still be in play on Sunday. Yet another Spaniard, 15-year-old David Salvador, starts fifth.
A photo finish gave Pedro Acosta victory over Billy van Eerde and Haruki Noguchi in an incredible Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup Race 1 in Austria.
Sensation from start to finish with run-away points leader Carlos Tatay given a ride-through penalty for a jump start along with fellow front row sitter Marcos Uriarte who was rolling while the crowd were still taking their seats.
Tatay and Uriarte recovered to score two and one-points respectively but it very much keeps the Cup alive as Acosta has slashed Tatay’s advantage to 54-points. Yuki Kunii is only 49 behind Tatay but the Japanese 16-year-old misses both races this weekend through injury.
It was at least a lead battle of twelve KTM RC 250 Rs and no one even looked like breaking away. In the closing stages it was Acosta, van Eerde and Noguchi who seemed strongest but the result was still wide open and the win only decided on the dash from the last corner to the flag.
“An incredible feeling, I won that when the race was red flagged so this is much better. I had a good feeling going into the race because in FP1 and FP2 my times were good. I made a bit of a mess of Qualifying so only started ninth but I managed to get to the front quickly. At the end I didn’t want to lead, there are so many places to pass here, straights to slipstream, I just wanted to be third or second and I managed that. Then the last corners just worked perfectly but it was so close. It was so close, Noguchi touched me coming through the last turn but it was really such a nice fight, great fun.”
Van Eerde had lost a podium in Race 2 at the Sachsenring because of exceeding track limits but not this time and was ecstatic to finish on the podium.
Billy Van Eerde
“Finally, it was such a great race, I just kept pushing and never gave up. I wasn’t so happy with the bike in Qualifying and was only 11th on the grid. It was a bit unstable but I talked to Santi (Suspension engineer Santiago Morralla) and he had it sorted for the race. In the last corner Noguchi came across and I lost my drive just a bit but I’m so happy to get on the podium.”
Noguchi picked up his third third-place of his first Rookies Cup season.
“Not perfect, I had two or three plans for the end of the race but they didn’t quite work on the last lap, I still had a plan for the last corner as I’d watched the videos from the last few years, it almost worked but not quite. Tomorrow I will try again. I did change the bike after qualifying but for tomorrow we will go back a bit and I hope that can make the difference, I want to win.”
A very close fourth was French 14-year-old Gabin Planques whose previous best was 11th in Race 2 at the Sachsenring. Pole man Alex Escrig was in the lead group but ran off the track with a few laps to go, so none of the front row featured in the final podium contest.
Any one of sixteen could have won the second intense seventeen lap race but it was Japanese 18-year-old Haruki Noguchi who put together two perfect corners to complete his first Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup victory. Cup leader Carlos Tatay almost stole the win by passing him into the penultimate corner but the 16-year-old Spaniard drifted a fraction wide and Noguchi was back ahead.
Billy van Eerde, the 17-year-old Australian picked up his second podium of the weekend with a fine third ahead of Adrián Huertas, Pedro Acosta and Zonta van den Goorbergh. Two seconds covered the top 14 KTM RC 250 Rs at the finish.
“Finally a win and I am very happy with that. It was half full gas and half a bit of planning. It was such a tight bunch that I though it best to keep in the top three or four to keep out of trouble. On the last lap I wanted to take the lead and hold it but Tatay managed to get ahead and I had to repass him, then I went for maximum corner speed and using all the track at the last corner so I could not be passed. It worked. I want to thank everyone who supports me including the technical staff, we swapped back to the settings I used for Qualifying and that worked well today.”
With a hand already on the Cup title Tatay might have cruised a bit and picked up useful points but the racer never thought of that.
“I’m not thinking about the championship. I wanted to win. I went for the inside line at the end but just could not hold on. Still, second is good and I am very happy after yesterday’s mistake at the start. I really want to thank my manager and my mechanic, they know exactly how to give me a boost when I need it.”
Wearing the same brilliant smile he carried after yesterday’s second place, Aussie Billy van Eerde was happy with third.
Billy van Eerde
“It was a different race to yesterday, I was stuck more in the pack. Things were so close this time that I couldn’t find the line I needed and it was very hard to make progress. I just kept pushing though and made it work at the end.”
Like van Eerde, Huertas has had a torrid second Rookies Cup season but the 15-year-old Spaniard put that behind him with a fine fourth. The same plan didn’t work so well for Saturday’s winner Acosta.
So rapid were the changes of fortune through the entire race that David Salvador, the 15-year-old Spaniard who had the lead with a couple of laps to go ended up 16th after colliding with Marcos Uriarte on the final lap. Uriarte rolled home 20th, completing a frustrating weekend that had looked so promising when he qualified second.
Pole sitter Alex Escrig was even more unlucky. He ended up stuck in the gravel trap on Saturday and didn’t even make the start on Sunday after a collision with van den Goorbergh on the warm up lap. Escrig fell and his bike was damaged so the 15-year-old Spaniard could not start.
Van den Goorbergh did not fall, started as normal but was quickly awarded a long lap penalty for the incident with Escrig. He served the penalty and then managed to get back in the pack.
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