News 30 May 2009

MotoGP: Hook top Aussie Rookie in Mugello qualifying

Red Bull PR:

A sweltering day in Mugello ended with the two qualifying sessions for the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. Sturla Fagerhaug put one hand on the winner’s trophy with a superb demonstration of speed in the first session and while the others scrambled to catch up the 17 year old Norwegian concentrated in the second session on bike set-up and getting ready to race.

French 16 year old Nelson Major put in a blinding lap towards the end of the first session to place himself second on the grid just one 10th of a second slower than Fagerhaug but in doing so used the best of his rear tyre so could not come close to matching it in the second 30 minute session. That second period gave fellow Frenchman, 15 year old Florian Marino, the opportunity to move into 3rd, just 6 10ths away from pole.

The front row is completed by Daijiro Hiura, the 14 year old Japanese, who was frustrated not to be able to improve on his 1st session time. He was almost bettered by Kevin Calia, the 14 year old Italian, who heads up the second row in front of Danny Kent, Jakub Kornfeil and Jake Gagne.

Naturally Fagerhaug was quite content with his day’s work. “I was happy with the first session, we made some changes to the bike after the free practice this morning which really helped the bike over the bumps, plus I tried some different lines so that I missed the worst of them where I could. We then made some more changes for the second session but I was not so comfortable on the bike and stopped during the session to change it back. Plus some of the guys just wanted to follow me all the time so that was a bit frustrating. I was happy that I put together some consistent quick times and in the end I did a good practice start so I am looking forward to the race – you never know with my starts but I hope it will be better than Jerez.”

Major explained why his second session time was 3 quarters of a second slower than the first. “The rear tyre was finished and that made the bike move around a lot. I didn’t want to push it too hard. I am happy though, I took it easy early in the first session. I just got my confidence back after crashing last weekend on my 600 when I had an engine problem and then I felt good so I could go fast. I think the race will be fun.”

Marino was equally pleased with his 3rd. “I worked hard for that, we changed the bike through the day and I pushed and pushed. I think it will be a great race,” concluded the on-form Frenchman who won on his 600 last weekend in France. Hiura was also quite happy with 4th. “I was not as fast in the second session because I was alone the whole time and without a slipstream it is hard to really do a good lap time but I think it will be OK for the race, I think I can run at the front.”

The best of the local heroes was Calia and he was in the hunt all through practice, improving by a second between the 2 sessions. “I like the track here, I am happy to be racing at home and I feel confident now that my wrist is 100%.” He broke his left wrist in the pre season Estoril test back in late March.

Danny Kent, the 15 year old Englishman, put himself in 6th place just 0.7 sec behind pole and was happy with that. “The second session was a lot better than the first, I concentrated on learning the track and I think I got going better, found some better lines and could carry more corner speed.”

The 15 year old Czech Jakub Kornfeil, fresh from his Alpe Adria Cup win in Brno last weekend was not really thrilled with 7th. “I want to be quicker but I seemed to be on my own all the time. I feel good on the bike though and I think I can make a good race.” Similarly Jake Gagne, the 15 year old Californian is looking for good things from 8th place. “We improved the bike through the day so things are pretty good, it was moving around a bit at the rear in the end but for me that is a whole lot better than not having a good feeling in the front which is where we started the day.”

The race starts at 16.20 CET on Saturday and can be watched live on the Rookies Website

Click here for detailed results