Rookies Cup | Baldassarri bounces back to win in Jerez
Lorenzo Baldassarri, the reigning Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup champion, stormed back to form with a brilliant victory in race 2 at Jerez. The 15 year old Italian stole the win at the Spanish Grand Prix right on the line from 15 year old Portuguese Ivo Lopes, with 14 year old Spaniard Diego Perez taking 3rd just as he did in race one on Saturday.
“It was a fantastic race,” said Baldassarri. “I was right in the middle of a very big group and we were all fighting so hard. What was great for me is that I found the rhythm with the KTM again and was comfortable on it. I managed to work my way to the front. In the last laps I knew it would be difficult and at the last corner I just tried to get the perfect drive and hoped.”
“At the start of the year I had some much difficulty adapting from the 4-stroke to the 2-stroke at our Estoril test that I thought that it might be impossible. At least now I know it is possible,” said the tall, curly haired teenager with his infectious smile. “I am going to Estoril next weekend with a lot more confidence.”
Of course Lopes was less thrilled with the result but he saw the positives. “It was just an incredible race. I think we were 20 guys all in one pack, unbelievable. It was so tough, I just kept pushing, pushing, pushing until I could work my way to the front. Then I went for the win, I thought I had it as I crossed the line.... then I saw Baldassarri. At least I go to my home track knowing I can do it. Only winning will be OK there.”
For Perez his 2nd trip to the podium was just as enjoyable as the 1st. “Of course after yesterday I knew I could do a good race but this time there were so many riders. I just worked as hard as I could and stayed out of trouble. Again it was all about the last corner and who got out of the group the best.”
Florian Alt, winner of the first race was forced into retirement with an electrical problem after fighting his way through from mid pack to the lead. He wasn't the only leader not to finish the race, Kyle Ryde and Scott Deroue had both been at the front only to be skittled by Aaron Espana on lap 10 of the 16 as the 14 year old Spaniard was forced off line under braking by the pack at the end of the back straight.
Bradley Ray, the 14 year old Briton who slid out of the lead of Saturday's race was once again one of the leaders and looked just as smooth as he did in race 1 but was again denied. He was caught up in the 3 bike incident on lap 10. “Espana went down in front of me and I jumped his bike, I was thrown off but was so lucky as I landed back on the bike and managed to stay on the track. I lost a lot of ground to the leaders but I fought back and got with them just on the last lap,” concluded the 5th place finisher.
Espana explained the crash. “Ray moved over on me as we braked and I was forced too much to the inside, the front just folded, there was nothing I could do about it,” explained the Spaniard and with such a huge group battling for the lead such things were almost bound to happen.
A similar incident happened at the last corner on lap 13 with Karel Hanika, another of the early leaders, colliding with Lukas Trautmann, the 16 year old Austrian who had brilliantly battled through from mid pack to challenge for the lead. “We were all braking for the corner explained 16 year old Czech Hanika. “Then Alt dived across me and I had to pick the bike up a bit and then was hit by Lukas, it was just bad luck.”
When that happened they had just passed Philipp Oettl on the run to that tight left as the 15 year old German ran onto the ripple strips exiting the ultra fast rights and lost the lead. He recovered to finish 4th. “That wasn't a bad race but still not good enough,” he said seriously. “It was a huge group and I had to work hard to get to the front. By the end the rear tyre was past it's best but not as bad as yesterday, the suspension was also better but still not right so I think we can improve things for Estoril. I know that I have got to be more aggressive.”
Races 3 and 4 in the 15 race Rookies Cup season take place next weekend, May 5th and 6th at Estoril in Portugal.