Nicolo Castellini sits on pole position for this weekend's 2 Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup races at the Sachsenring after a superb display in wet and slippery conditions during the 1st qualifying session. The 13 year old Italian's inspired performance was rewarded when the 2nd session was cancelled due to track conditions and the times from the 1st session became the grid.
Sitting in the middle of the front row will be one of the home country heroes; Willi Albert with another 14 year old is alongside him, Spaniard Jorge Martin. Martin was the star of the show heading the table for much of the 2nd half of the 30 minute session. “It was a lot of fun,” said Martin who was 9th fastest in the dry Free Practice. “The track was very wet but then about half way through it stopped raining and I realised that the conditions were getting better, It wasn't too hard to go faster and faster, I just went a bit too fast at the end and slid off, not a big crash, no damage to the bike but I didn't do my last lap and Nico and Willi did better times right at the end.
It was a case of whose confidence improved quickest as the track was never dry, just the standing water drained away. Castellini, 17th fastest in the dry Free Practice, was naturally thrilled with his pole and was carrying a huge grin around the Rookies Garage. “It wasn't easy, but it wasn't that hard either. I like the track and enjoyed it from my first laps in the free practice this morning. I felt good in the rain but the bike was OK in the dry as well so I don't mind what happens in the races, wet or dry I am feeling confident.”
Albert is also not concerned about the weather for the 2 race days. “I have to be fast wet or dry,” he said. “I had a good feeling in the wet, I felt very comfortable and I was enjoying it. We have a good set-up for the dry also. The bike was good in the dry free practice and I was 7th fastest and felt good with the old rear tyre so I am happy whatever the conditions are for the races.”
Heading the 2nd row is 14 year old Aaron Espana and the Spaniard was honest about what got him up to speed. “I was following Lorenzo (Baldassarri) and realised that we were doing good times and it was not too hard. So then I pushed harder and it was also OK too.” Baldassarri was not so lucky himself, sliding off right at the end with the 8th fastest time.
Kyle Ryde, the 14 year old Briton is 5th fastest and happy with the feeling he got in the wet. “It was good to feel the bike moving around and it gave me confidence, I could understand what the bike and the tyres were doing. I didn't have a good feeling in the dry free practice (14th fastest), the rear was just sliding too much through the left handers. We've got an idea what we needed to change to make it better but of course no chance to try it. At least I'm in a good position if it is dry, to get away with the front guys.”
Karel Hanika is the fastest qualifier of the usual 'fast guys' and the 16 year old Czech is 6th (19th in Free Practice with an out of date tyre) just ahead of 16 year old Dutchman Scott Deroue (5th in the dry).
Cup points leader Florian Alt stands 15th on the grid and is quite happy to be there at all. “I had a huge highsider in the middle of practice, I did everything but crash. I recovered but I had no feeling for the bike after that. Still in the dry I was fastest so things should be OK for the race.”
His fellow 16 year old German and arch rival Philipp Oettl is 9th on the grid after being 3rd quickest in the dry. “It is a shame we did not get to do the 2nd qualifying because I was not really on the limit in the 1st session but that's OK. The bike was working well in Free Practice and I just have to get away well and finish in front of Florian so I can get the points lead back. That is the important thing at the moment.”
It was Austrian 16 year old Lukas Trautmann who split the 2 Germans in the dry but he was 13th in the wet and will have to wait and see what the weather brings for the weekend.
Race 1 starts at 16.30 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 15.50. Both can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world with the show beginning 10 minutes before the races get underway.