Red Bull Rookies #AustrianGP preview
The sound of 26 perfectly tuned KTMs will bless the beautiful hills at the Austrian Grand Prix and produce more on-track thrills in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup than anyone is capable of taking in. As rider coach Gustl Auinger says, Spielberg has a deceptively simple layout but it is an extremely demanding venue.
The sweeping curves hide the fact that it is hard to find a good rhythm, a fact that is acerbated by the chicane that was new last year. Even before that change, there were sharp turns to be perfected and the contrasting last two sweeping downhill right-handers that demand a perfect balance of bravery and skill. The last pair has such a huge effect both on the lap time and so often the race result.
Time to star
It is the penultimate Rookies Cup weekend, races 11 and 12 of the 14. No stress then for the fastest teens but reputations will be made as the 17th Cup season concludes. Angel Piqueras has already clinched the Cup and the 16-year-old Spaniard did so brilliantly with a double victory last time out in Assen.
Only 17 points separate the next 4 in the points table as they battle it out and only two of them have so far topped the podium. Spanish 15-year-olds Max Quiles (3rd on 110 points) with 2 wins and Alberto Ferrandez with 1 victory (4th on 103). Álvaro Carpe, the 16-year-old Spaniard (2nd on 117) and Jacob Roulstone the 18-year-old Australian (5th on 100) have both been as high as 2nd.
So far it is the lowest number of race winners ever, 3. There are plenty of candidates to add to that number. Rico Salmela, the 15-year-old Finn and Irish 16-year-old Casey O’Gorman have both also taken a second place and sit 6th and 7th in the points table, still with thoughts of 2nd at the end of the season. Salmela won a race last year but O’Gorman is still looking for his first.
A special place
The Red Bull Ring is unlike any other circuit on the calendar so form so far this year can be a poor predictor of who will be ahead but who would bet against the usual front runners and the fact that Piqueras has the incredible ability to cross the line first.
He has done that 7 times already this year, only Bo Bendsneyder has won more in a season, 8 in 2015. Adding the 2 victories from 2022, Piqueras has 9 Rookies career wins, only Karel Hanika has more, 10 in 2012 & 13. So records may well be broken. Piqueras did win Race 1 last year in Spielberg.
The ultimate goal
Keep an eye on the other GP classes where ex-Cup winner and ex-Moto3 World Champion Jorge Martín stands 2nd in the MotoGP title chase. Pedro Acosta, also a Cup winner and ex-Moto3 World Champion heads the Moto2 points table. In the Moto3 class, ex-Rookies fill the top 9 places. David Alonso won last time out in Silverstone, he was Cup winner in 2021. Dani Holgado leads the world championship, he was 3rd in the Cup that year.
This weekend’s Rookies Cup races can be seen live on www.redbull.tv and on TV stations around the world.
Race 1 is at 17:00 CET on Saturday and Race 2 is on Sunday at 08:50, the show starts 10 minutes before the race.
Source: Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup