Florian Alt overcame vicious blustery wind, shredding rain tyres and some very determined opposition to win the opening Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup race of the British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone. The 16 year old German was chased home by 15 year old Briton Bradley Ray and fellow countryman, 14 year old Kyle Ryde.
Ryde had shot away from the initial start but a sudden rain shower dampened the final corner and he and more than half the field fell bringing the race to a halt before the end of lap 1. It was restarted with the bikes swapped to rain tyres even though the track was dry but with black clouds still threatening.
This time it was Alt who gained the early advantage but he wasn't able to break clear and it soon became a 6 man battle for the lead that included pole man Karel Hanika, the 16 year old Czech, points leader Scott Deroue the 16 year old Dutchman, 13 year old Italian Stefano Manzi as well as Ryde and Ray.
Those six traded the advantage between them with Manzi adding shock value as he had never featured in the lead group in the earlier rounds of his 1st Rookies season. The rest of the field was left well behind apart from Philipp Oettl who managed to bridge the gap and join them for the second half of the race.
Alt had seen his early advantage disappear and was often shuffled to the back of the 7 man lead group but then made sure he pushed his way to the front before the start of the last lap. “The race was a lot of fun, of course the rain tyres were destroyed on the dry track but it was the same for everyone. I tried to get away early but it wasn't possible and I just knew that I had to be in the right place going onto the last lap. We had had a great race and I am so happy to win it. I feel so good with the bike and the track here, I really think it is possible to do the same tomorrow, at least I'll try.”
Terrible luck for Hanika because as the pack braked for at the 2nd to last corner Manzi fell and slid across in front of him, the Czech clipped the Italian and fell fortunately without injury to either of them. Hanika remounted to finish 10th while Manzi was a non finisher, hardly a just reward for a wonderful ride. “I never expected to be running at the front,” admitted Manzi frankly. “I just feel so good on the KTM with the Dunlop tyres that I was happy to go that speed, it didn't seem to be too hard. Then at the last corners we were all braking together and I lost the front,” he explained after having made the same move cleanly and effectively on many previous laps.
Hanika certainly didn't hold a grudge, “That's racing, I'm just glad he's OK. It was very different with the wet tyres in the dry, it was working out and I thought I would pick up some good points but then he fell, nothing I could do.”
Ray was of course thrilled with 2nd and admitted there was no plan. “I just rode as hard as I could and on the last lap tried to get to the front, there was no chance to plan anything, just brake as late as possible into the last corners and it worked out.”
Ryde agreed that it was not a tactical race. “At the first start I knew what I wanted to do, get ahead and get clear. After the restart that wasn't possible, I could run with the others no problem but there was no chance to get away. Then on the last lap, coming into the last section we were all on the brakes, Scott was later than anyone but went wide, I got clipped by Manzi's bike and just had to get round the corner. A great race though and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.”
With the race win Alt has taken the points lead from Deroue with 70 points to 67. Oettl is 3rd on 64 after crossing the line 4th ahead of Deroue.
The second race of the Silverstone weekend starts at 17.00 CET on Sunday and can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world