Le Mans Rookies Cup Race 1 and Race 2
Piqueras robs Salmela in Le Mans Rookies Cup Race 1
Rising Finnish star Rico Salmela rode a perfect race ahead of the KTM pack and so nearly scored his 2nd Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup victory. But the 15-year-old was passed at the penultimate corner complex by Angel Piqueras.
So the 16-year-old points leader stood for the Spanish National Anthem for the 4th time this season with Ruche Moodley, the 16-year-old South African, joining them on the podium. It was yet another fabulous race and while Salmela looked cool and confident in front the battle behind was incredibly intense, anyone of 8 or 10 riders could have made the podium and even the win as Piqueras demonstrated.
Piqueras sent it: “It’s true, I didn’t know how I managed to win. I just pushed very hard at the end, the last two laps, pushed at every corner. I felt good at the end of the race, I was confident and I decided to take a chance. I pushed very hard, right on the limit and I almost crashed, I could have crashed, that was a real possibility but I didn’t. Maybe I will crash tomorrow, we’ll see. It was a really hard race all the way, we were all pushing hard and it was only at the end that I felt that I could go and try and win, I felt really strong and felt I could try to catch Rico. I won’t change anything on the bike for tomorrow, It is great. I felt I lacked a bit on the straight but maybe just because I am a bit bigger.”
Salmela so smooth: “Yes, It was a really good race, I was having some fun in the front. I think that I was doing quite a good pace in the lead. In the last lap, I left a little gap and Piqueras took it. I tried to close it a bit but went too late on the brakes and went a little bit wide and Piqueras got the inside line. I’m still quite happy with the work that I did today but I know that there are still some places that I can improve on for tomorrow. I like the bike, no need to change it at all but I think that one of the things I can do is probably push harder from the beginning and maybe make the last laps a bit better.”
Moodley made up places:“It was a really good race, quite difficult coming from 13th. I pushed really hard from the start and I knew I could get a good position. In the end, it was a podium so I am so happy. Brad (Binder) was a big help, on Thursday he was showing me some lines. In practice though I still wasn’t feeling that confident until the end of Qualifying. Then today, I don’t know what happened,” he laughed. The bike felt good so I am not going to change anything, I hope for another good race tomorrow.”
Quiles 4th and cries foul : “It’s not fair,” stated the 15-year-old Spaniard after the race, visibly distressed. “Other riders in Jerez touch the green in Jerez many times and me, I touch it 3 and they give me a long lap and again here. It’s not correct but I am happy with the bike and the way I rode the race.”
Guido Pini not thrilled with 5th: “I’m not really happy because I was all the race in the lead group, 3rd or 4th position,” explained the 15-year-old Italian. “On the last lap I tried to do my best, but Piqueras passed me, I didn’t crash but almost high sided and Moodley passed me. Also, Maximo, I passed him but he passed me again so 5th position,I’m not really happy but tomorrow I think I can do better.”
Hakim Danish lost out after charge to the front: “I’m not happy because I made a lot of mistakes” explained the 15-year-old Malaysian frankly after finishing 9th. “I slid off in the warm-up lap, luckily I could get up and still get in the race. I had a good start in the race, I tried to follow the front group, I managed to do that. Then in the middle of the race I tried to pass one rider but I made a little mistake in Turn 7 and I almost hit the rider in front because I braked so late. So then I had to catch the group again and I made another mistake in Turn 9, I braked too late and went straight. So a difficult race but I will improve for tomorrow.”
Marco Morelli frustrated with 13th from Pole: “A little bit of a bad race, I think.” said the 15-year-old Argentine. “I don’t know what to say but I am disappointed, I started from the pole and I finish 13, that’s not a great result. But, I will learn from that, I need to close the door more, today I let too many riders through, gave them too much room. I have one more opportunity to start from Pole and this is great. I am happy with the bike so it is just up to me.”
Angel Piqueras wins stunning Rookies Le Mans Race 2
Too much drama in Race 2 of the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup at Le Mans but it didn’t prevent Angel Piqueras taking his 5th win of the season and the 16-year-old Spaniard brilliantly held off Italian 15-year-old Guido Pini.
Spaniard Alberto Ferrández took 3rd from Argentina’s Marco Morelli as the 15-year-olds battled to the line for the final podium spot.
Piqueras did it again: “I really didn’t have a plan for the race today, I knew that the track would be different to yesterday and it was, it was a bit cold and without the same grip. In the early laps and all the way through the race, it was a big battle at the front, all the riders were pushing very hard but on the last two laps I decided to push and to see what I could do. It worked and am very happy to win again, of course, this is very good for the championship and it has been a great weekend. Two wins, it might not have been like that but it was.”
Pini improved last lap effort: “I am very happy with that, it’s my first podium in Rookies Cup. It was a very hard race, a lot of fighting at the front. We had to be a bit careful in the beginning because the track was cold but that was OK. I was confident going into the race today as I was yesterday. Yesterday I made mistakes on the last lap and that cost me the podium but not today. I battled with Piqueras for the win but I couldn’t do it this time. I am enjoying the bike and really looking forward to my home race in Mugello.”
Ferrández gave it all: “I am very happy with that, I pushed all the way, from the first lap to the last I was always on the limit. Finally on the last lap, so many riders crashed and finally I could overtake Morelli in the last corners and got on the podium. I have practised a lot, worked very hard for this but that is normal and I will try and do it again in Mugello.”
Morelli makes better use of Pole: “I am happy with the result, better than yesterday but very lucky because some riders crashed. I am happy though because today I could stay in the front group, I didn’t do that yesterday. I still need to improve I need to be able to overtake more. I have scored some points which is good for the championship but that is not so important this year. I tried for the podium, I overtook Ferrández but he overtook me, I was close to the podium and try again in Mugello.”
Cormac Buchanan 5th: “Well, very lucky, I was P11 going into the second to last lap and finished P5 so it is the first top 5. Lucky but then to finish first, first you have to finish so I’ll take it,” explained the 16-year-old New Zealander referring to the 5 riders who fell off at the end of the race.
“The starts this weekend have been really good, I am finally getting back to the way I felt at the end of last year so I’m really pleased with that but I just need to work on staying a bit more calm because when I get in that front group it gets a bit hectic and I kind of make a lot of mistakes. Then start losing the group.There is still plenty to work on and I am going to train hard for Mugello and get P5 with more merit shall we say.”
Màximo Quiles falls on the final lap: “At the beginning of the race I was quite strong, I pushed and caught the front and we battled all the race, I could lead for some laps. But then towards the end, I dropped back a bit to get recharged so that I could push again for the finish. Then on the last lap I was P4 and preparing the overtake and in the 2nd corner I braked straight and I crashed, I think I crashed with 2 more and I am very sorry for them. I hope Hakim (Danish) is OK.”
Hakim Danish brought down: “I was feeling good with the bike,” explained the 15-year-old Malaysian.” I was in the front group, I did a better job than yesterday, today I didn’t make the same mistakes as yesterday. I had a good start and managed to get quickly into the front group, then run in the top 5 and I could get up to 2nd. In the last lap, two riders crashed and hit me hard, I could do nothing about that. I am OK and let’s see the next race.”
Álvaro Carpe taken out. “I’m not so happy because I was in 3rd on the last lap and a rider hit me and I crashed.” stated the 15-year-old Spaniard. “I went to the bike but the engine had stopped and I could not restart it to get any points.Yesterday I was 6th but it is not so good for the championship, I think I am still second but Piqueras has such a big lead.We have to wait for Mugello and see what we can do there. I will do my best.”
Rico Salmela falls on last lap:”I’m OK after the crash. It was quite a good race before the crash. I was top 3 most of the race. Then close to the end I made a small mistake, I got neutral and I dropped to the back of the group. Then I pushed to catch up, I gained some positions and on the last lap I was P3 and I thought I could try to catch the riders in front. And then I had a small accident, I tried to save it but it was too much.We’ll see what we can do in Mugello if we can still beat Piqueras.”
Ruche Moodley misses matching Race 1. “In the first laps I took it a bit carefully, just to check the track, because in Portimão I didn’t do that,” said the 16-year-old South African referring to his early race crash on a cold track in Portugal. “Then I felt confident, even though I was 13th at one stage, that I could catch the group. The track was good and got better, on the 2nd to last lap I tried to get in a better position so that I could attack on the last lap and I just tucked the front.”
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